Is there a single large electronics company NOT announcing a Tablet at CES this year? I’ve read about 20 so far and the numbers keep growing! There’s dual screens (NEC Cloud Communicator, not good), one with a coloured e-ink display (Pocket Book Mirasol, I’m really interested in that one!), one using a LED / eInk Display (Notion Ink Adam, really neat idea, and finally announced!), plus numerous other me toos… but thankfully at least one of them doesn’t look like an iPad clone (I mean in the hardware design department, although it’s still pretty similar)… plus it’s the one that’s been eagerly awaited by the tech industry and I’ve been really interested in seeing, Blackberry’s Playbook (personally I don’t think it’s the best name for a Tablet that will be purchased predominantly within the business sector, but what do I know).
Regardless of the name, it looks like Blackberry have been working hard at creating a pretty slick Tablet, that’s feature rich, responsive, comfortable in the hand and is likely to sell very very well when it’s finally released in the coming months. It’s most similar competitor and undoubtedly main rival after the iPad, is Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, which has been out a few months already and has been selling well (thankfully that’s another manufacturer that decided to differentiate itself from the iPad a bit, by adding a white backside). I’ve played around with a Galaxy Tab and it seemed pretty nice, although I found the UI a little frustrating at times, but I’m sure after a few hours I’d get used to it.
Also Google unveiled it’s latest upcoming release, Android 3.0, Honeycomb, designed specifically for Tablets, as the review and video shows, this looks nothing like previous versions of Android for mobile phones… so I’m not sure what the UI of the next release of Android for mobile phones will look like, but keeping the Android UI consistent will be on everyones mind, let’s hope it’s on Googles too.
Neither of these would make me want to part with my iPad, I’ve invested way too many years in Apple and it’s eco-system for me to change now, but new uses without a legacy will find them worthy competitors and on a hardware only comparison, way ahead on features to the current iPad. Although Steve Jobs would disagree entirely, I feel these smaller sized Tablets are an ideal compromise of portability and function.
My iPad is great, often I’ve carried it instead of my MacBook for meetings and presentations, it’s great for recording and taking notes and the screen is an ideal size to show video and slides etc, but it’s too big to carry all the time. I didn’t bring my iPad with me on a recent backpacking trip to Cambodia, as it’s just too big and heavy (although I packed my Kindle!), plus even when I do have it with me on the underground, I don’t feel comfortable using it for reading or catching up on stuff, but with a 7″ version I would. Steve’s argument that a 7″ screen is too small for a tablet to be a useful touchscreen device is flawed, he only has to reach into his pocket and pull out his own iPhone to realise that, yes I agree the larger screen on the current iPad is great when you’re in the office, or at home, but out and about it’s a little cumbersome.
Of course Steve won’t be seen to go back on his word, sadly there won’t be a 7″ iPad anytime soon, if ever (shame as I would have bought one, another 10″ screen with a speed bump and cameras will not be enough incentive for me to purchase a new one)… although of course he never said there wouldn’t be a new 7″ iPod Touch! we live in hope