New tablet devices emerge as Apple looms

Call it a "slate" or call it a "tablet," the technology world is suddenly awash with a novel category of mobile devices seeking to grab the spotlight from a hugely anticipated product launch by Apple later this month.

Hewlett-Packard Co, Microsoft Corp, Dell Inc, Motorola Inc and Lenovo Group Ltd are among a barrage of companies showing off thin, touchscreen, multimedia devices at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.



The sprawling show floor was flooded with prototype and concept devices in an array of sizes, as vendors test the waters of an as yet unproven market. These wireless gadgets can stream video, download music, surf the Web and play games, aiming to win over consumers by bridging the gap between smartphones and laptops.



They are jockeying for attention ahead of Apple's widely expected announcement of a 10- to 11-inch tablet computer in late January, which could redefine the category much as the iPhone did for phones.



But some analysts doubted if consumers would take to tablets or slates, which join a market crowded with netbooks, e-readers, smartphones and laptops of all configurations.



Gartner analyst Van Baker is skeptical of the category as a whole, saying he doesn't understand what functionality tablets offer that would compel consumers to shell out hundreds of dollars for them.



"Apple could pull it off," Baker said, however, noting that the iPhone, iPod and Macbook maker already charges premium prices for its products so it may be able to persuade consumers to buy a tablet priced in the $500 to $800 range.



Most of the tech vendors that showcased prototypes at CES were coy about pricing or potential launch dates. Apple itself has yet to publicly discuss any tablet.



But HP, the world's largest PC maker, did confirm on Thursday that it would roll out a slate computer this year that will have multitouch capability, runs Windows 7, and has WiFi and 3G wireless connections. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had demonstrated the device at a keynote speech on Wednesday.



"We've been looking at this space for quite some time," Phil McKinney, chief technology officer of HP's computer division, told Reuters. "The difference between a good idea and great idea is timing. We think 2010 is the right timing."



Citing one potential use of what he called a rich media device, McKinney said HP has been working with magazine and newspaper publishers in connection with the slate.



The distinction between a slate and tablet at this point seems semantic.



Motorola Co-CEO Sanjay Jha said the company was considering making a tablet. Another Motorola executive, Don Schoch, showed a prototype "media tablet" with a 7-inch screen running Google's Android operating system, a modem by Motorola and a chip from Nvidia Corp.



Schoch said the tablet could sell for around $300 (£187) and be ready commercially by the fourth quarter, but whether it actually comes to market would depend on factors including the successful deployment of an advanced mobile network by Verizon Wireless.



Dell said it could bring a 5-inch slate, which resembled a large smartphone, to market this year, and that it was studying a number of different screen sizes.



"There's going to be tablets of every form and kind coming," said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of Nvidia, whose graphics chips are found in many multimedia gadgets.



Huang said a number of new devices based on Nvidia's Tegra chip are forthcoming and called 2010 the beginning of a "tablet revolution."



Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Doug Reid estimated the overall tablet hardware market in 2010 at $3.5 billion (£2.19 billion) to $5.3 billion (£3.3 billion), rising to $30 billion (£18 billion) by 2014, driven by Apple. But he said tablets could cannibalize sales of netbooks and laptops, estimating average tablet selling prices at $700 (£437).



"We view the re-invigoration of tablet product development now underway and related growth opportunity in 2010 as a near term positive for the PC industry," he wrote in a note issued on Thursday.



Tablets have been tried a number of times over the years by various companies, without much success.



For now, tablets appear to be distinct from electronic readers such as Amazon.com Inc's Kindle, which are best used for books and periodicals and have little multimedia functionality. E-readers are also growing in popularity, with a stack of new models hitting the CES show floor.



"The tablet phenomenon is an opportunity," said Robbie Bach, head of Microsoft's entertainment and devices unit.



"The truth is those (different types of screens) are all going to blend at one level. Over time, the distinction between screens from the user perspective, that's going to blur a little bit. The service delivery is going to be critical."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Web Developer/Designer - WordPress, PHP, HTML, CSS, Adobe

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Web Developer/Designer - WordPress, PHP, HTML...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global 3D visualisation compa...

    Ashdown Group: SQL Developer - Derbyshire - £30,000 + £5,000 Car allowance

    £28000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer - Derbyshire, commutab...

    Ashdown Group: SQL Developer - 12 Month Fixed Term Contract - Shrewsbury

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer - 12 Month Fixed Term ...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum