Updated, April 5th, 2011: Comprehensive Spreadsheets Below
The tablet space is heating up in a big way. At CES, we witnessed the unveiling of over 70 different tablets. Mobile World Congress demonstrated that Manufacturers, like HTC, Samsung and LG, all of whom have significant clout in the marketplace, are putting their money where their mouth is too, and we now have some serious Xoom contenders. We have compiled a list of the best Android Tablets in 2011. Most of these won’t be available for a few months, but we wanted to ignite your techno lust prematurely so you know where to throw your hard earned dollars. Good news for Qwerty lovers everywhere too, as some unique designs are coming your way. Read on below and let us know which one you like best! 2011 is looking to be the year when some excellent Tablet offerings will be available for all to enjoy.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1-inch
Unlike its seven-inch predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will run the true Honeycomb OS with no overlaying customization or TouchWiz UI. This particular tablet will feature a 10.1-inch TFT display with a 1280 x 800 resolution and 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor. Furthermore, it will come in 16GB and 32GB varieties, and feature a front-facing two-megapixel camera and eight-megapixel rear.Unfortunately, it’s looking like this tablet won’t have HDMI – which is definitely not a good thing.
All the usual connectivity stuff is there, like b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. With Nividia Tegra 2 Dual Core under the hood, this tablet should have no problems supporting 1080p video playback at 30 frames per second and, thanks to its massive battery, will easily achieve 10 hours of heavy usage. Additional goodies on board include a gyroscope, accelerometer, digital compass, and proximity sensor. Finally, the 10.1 Tab will measure .4-inches thick and weighs just 599 grams.
Samsung claims it will launch in Europe in June, coming to Vodafone first. Samsung did not say when it will be available in the United States, or which carriers will support it. Samsung has also also finally offered us details into pricing, with the 16GB Wifi-only 10.1 Inch Samsung Galaxy Tab going for $499. Being that it’s a full-fledged Google Experience device with no custom skin means you can anticipate much faster updates than what Samsung has become (in)famous for. You can expect a full review once we get our hands on the device.
Motorola Xoom: This 10.1-inch Android 3.0, or Honeycomb, tablet sports an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, uses a laptop-like 1280 x 800 resolution, and has two cameras: a 2-megapixel sensor in the front for video chat over Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G and a 5-megapixel rear camera for stills and 720p video recording. It will initially work on Verizon’s 3G network but will be upgradeable to 4G / LTE soon after launch. The Xoom is expected to be available in the first quarter, although no pricing has been announced. Most analysts and tech bloggers are saying this is the one to watch, and we are inclined to agree with them. Finally a manufacturer has realized that consumers want a quality, performance tablet with a high resolution screen, and a relatively thin bezel. We will keep you posted and offer you a hands-on as soon as we can. You can find our in-depth analysis and review on the Motorola Xoom here.
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer: The 10.1-inch Android 3.0 tablet runs for 8 hours and can mate with a keyboard dock, providing a laptop-style configuration while boosting battery life up to 16 hours. The slate runs on the dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and features two cameras. It will sell for $399 to $699 and be available in April. While different than the Slider, it offers a significantly better keyboard to use, but also a bigger footprint, so its QWERTY magic comes at a price. The 10.1-inch tablet will both be fully functional as a keyboard free device, and be even further functional once it’s docked into the external keyboard.
ASUS Eee Pad Slider: The smartbook-like 10.1-inch Slider is similar to the Transformer, but features an always-attached, slide-out keyboard and weighs in at 2.2 pounds. It features Android 3.0, a Tegra 2 processor and two cameras. It will sell for $499 to $799 and be available in May. We like the form factor here, and while it feels a bit like there’s wasted space on the keyboard base because of the screen tilt, this is one is compact and light. For those wanting something neater and better looking than a netbook, this is a good one to keep an eye on. People still love having the convenience of a full QWERTY. We can see a clear use for the Asus Eee Pad Slider for many people out there. Many tablets are striving to be just tablets, and it’s good to see a few unique designs being proposed.
Acer Iconia Tab A500: Iconia is another thin Android tablet, but Acer added a custom UI to the device, which could make future updates a challenge. The lack of hardware buttons on the display bezel required Acer to create gestures from the bezel; sliding a finger from the right edge towards the screen brings up software buttons to go back or home, for example. The 13.3 millimeter thick Iconia runs on a Tegra 2 and will follow the Xoom as an LTE-enabled tablet on Verizon’s network later this year. Judging from what we are hearing regarding the phasing out of physical buttons in favor of gesture based commands and an active taskbar, it seems like the Iconia Tab is going to keep pace with the most recent developments of Android 3.0. The Acer Iconia Tab A500 comes with fabulous features such as a 10-inch touchscreen display, built-in gyroscope, etc. It will be powered by dual core 1 GHz NVidia Tegra 2 chipset processor and bundled with Verizon 4G wireless data plan and 4G LTE connectivity. It will be able to play full HD 1080p video through its built-in HDMI.
Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid. This true hybrid of tablet and laptop and is actually two devices in one. Lenovo showed the U1 last year, but retooled the software: Gone is the custom Linux tablet UI in favor of the more popular and recognizable Google Android platform for the detachable screen. The screen detaches for tablet use and can be purchased alone as the $530 LeTab with either 32GB or 64GB of storage. When attached to a keyboard, the device becomes a laptop running Windows 7 with 320GB of storage, 2GB of RAM and Intel 1.2 GHz CPU. All together, it’s $1,300 and is reportedly available in China first. While pricey, some users will prefer to have access to both Windows and Android. This will surely be a niche device, but it does demonstrate that Lenovo is committed to staying on top of the latest trends.
Toshiba Tablet. Toshiba hasn’t named its 10.1-inch tablet, but like most others, it has outfitted its tablet with Nvidia’s Tegra 2 dual-core processor, a 1280 × 800 touchscreen, two cameras and Android 3.0. Unique to the devices is a nice rubberized back, making the tablet easier to handle. It should be available in the second quarter with Honeycomb, although Toshiba was showing it off with Android 2.2 at CES.
Notion Ink Adam. Adam features the unique 10.1-inch, 1024 × 600, transreflective, PixelQi display that has an eInk mode to save battery life. Nvidia’s dual-core 1 GHz processor will power Android 2.3 with Notion Ink’s custom Eden interface. Instead of separate front and rear cameras, Adam sports a 3.2 inch swivel camera. The tablet will boast battery life of 16 hours, or 160 hours with the backlight off and costs between $375 and $549, depending connectivity and screen configurations. Tegra 2 is based on a low power ARM processor and high performance NVIDIA graphics that allow tablets like the Adam to handle 1080p HD video playback without breaking a sweat. The chipset can also handle games that will be able to reach up to 1080p resolution.
Also, if you’re not convinced on how great this latest iteration of Tablets are – check out this lengthy video detailing a day with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
The comparison charts above come from our article Tablet comparison posted on April 5th 2011.
We’d love to hear your thoughts – as always.
Here’s the download links for high quality versions of the spreadsheets – just right click and save away.