Tablet Computers - Reviews
In Direct Competition with Apple?
The TouchPad was the first tablet to be offered by HP which ran on its highly touted webOS platform designed by Palm, the company HP acquired. This was the tablet that HP hoped would be a strong competitor in the tablet wars of 2011. In the fall of 2010, HP introduced an Android based tablet bundled with a printer. Earlier, HP introduced the HP Slate 500, a Windows 7 tablet PC. Of course, it would seem obvious that naming the new device a "pad" rather than some variation of "tablet" would give the impression that this new TouchPad is meant to be in direct competition with the Apple iPad.
Similarities of TouchPad to Apple's iPad
The HP TouchPad is 13.7mm thick (the iPad is 13.4mm) and weighs 1.6 lbs. It shares the specs of the Apple iPad with its 9.7" capacitive multitouch screen with a resolution of 1024x768. Since neither the TouchPad nor the iPad come in the preferred 16:9 aspect ratio of most Android tablets, experiencing high definition widescreen movies may be disappointing in comparison. However the screen resolution of the TouchPad and the iPad are much better suited for reading documents and digital publications.
There is also a similarity between the TouchPad and the iPad in regard to wireless connectivity and internal stereo speakers. The HP speakers (Beats by Dre) have already been in use on HP's Envy laptops and produce a superior audio output experience. The TouchPad also comes with the option of either 16GB or 32GB and it too has a Wi-Fi-only or a 3G-enabled option which includes a GPS and a mobile broadband radio. 4G is expected to come at a later time. At this point in time there is no memory card reader available to expand the memory.
Differences Between TouchPad and iPad
The big differences between the HP and the Apple device are, of course, the operating systems and the Touchpad's CPU, microUSB charger port, LED alert light and gyroscope, as well as its wireless charging system, dubbed Touchstone. Of course, unlike the iPad, the HP device supports Adobe Flash.
The TouchPad also avoids Apple's multiple-layered onscreen keyboard, includes a row of numbers with its touch keys for easier text entry and can be resized on-the-fly. And, not to be undone by Apple and its accessories for the iPad, there are a number of these available for the TouchPad as well, which include a specially designed HP case, the TouchStone charger and stand system and an "ultraslim wireless keyboard" for easier text entry.
The HP TouchPad has a 1.3 megapixel webcam in the front which supports video calling. It does not possess a camera in the back, a feature that HP feels is not usually utilized fully by tablet users anyway since most have their smartphones handy for that purpose. The TouchPad also includes an accelerometer and a compass. It runs Qualcomm's extremely fast processor, the Snapdragon dual-core APQ8060 at 1.2GHz. It belongs to the third generation Snapdragon processors and allows for high-definition 3D video and multi-tasking abilities.
Users are also be able to access and edit Microsoft Office documents and the platform also supports VPN (virtual private networking for secure remote access). Applications such as the email and Internet browser programs have been optimized for the larger screen using panes and collapsible menus. The way in which several applications can be active on the screen at one time is also unique. These are "cards", not icons, and they are able to be swiped off the homescreen or stacked on top of each other for related tasks.
Probably the biggest difference that sets Apple and HP apart in regard to Tablet PC manufacture is that Apple sees the iPad as the all-in-one portable device that can fulfill most of the needs of the customer and HP sees the Tablet as having more of a complementary function sitting somewhere in between the smartphone and the PC.
The acquisition of Palm and the resulting webOS platform it designed is part of HP's overall plan for an entire "ecosystem" of connected devices for the consumer. At the same time that TouchPad was introduced, HP also delivered 2 new webOS smartphones, the credit-card sized Veer and the Pre3, a full-sized smartphone primarily aimed at business users. HP is planning on carrying over the webOS platform to its PCs and printers as well.
As one example of this webOS integration, The TouchPad also offers a new photo gallery feature called Exhibition. This feature allows the device to print wirelessly to HP printers. This feature works from inside an e-mail application as well and will work with most of HP's printers released in the past few years and is another step forward in HP's all-over plan for connected devices on the webOS platform.
webOS and Touch-to-Share Technology
The webOS system enables touch-to-share technology so that can web addresses can be shared between a TouchPad and compatible Palm smartphones just by "bumping" them together.
In essence, one can start reading a blog on a TouchPad and then tap a smartphone to take it somewhere else. Text messages can be received on the phone and phone calls can be answered on the TouchPad and vice-versa. Though this feature may not yet have the ability to start a program or game on one device and then continue on another, it is definitely a step in the right direction.
The webOS system also possesses a feature called Synergy where users can sign into their Facebook, Google, Microsoft Exchange, LinkedIn and Yahoo accounts from a webOS device and download contacts, calendar entries and emails from those accounts to the webOS device.
Since HP is far behind Apple and Android in app development, it has partnered with Amazon on its Kindle software for reading books and with Time-Life and its digital magazine publications as well as with Last.fm, Rovio (Angry Birds), and the NBA. HP plans on enticing app developers by making it easy for them to make money developing apps for its platform. The company is counting on the fact that webOS will be an attractive target for developers simply because of the huge volume of pcs and printers it is planning to offer with webOS as the platform.
UPDATE: HP TOUCHPAD FAILURE
Unfortunately, a bizarre situation occurred with the launch of the HP Touchpad. The excitement it stirred in February of 2011 was palpable and the launch of this very innovative product was eagerly awaited. But, for some reason, HP kept working on it and did not launch the Touchpad until August of 2011 and by then, the excitement had evaporated into thin air. Then, in November of 2011, HP announced that not only was it cancelling the manufacture of HP Touchpads but it was also dropping the WebOS platform on its phones.
The HP Touchpad and the WebOS system held such promise. For whatever reason, they were doomed by HP, which emptied its stock by dropping the price of Touchpads down to just $99 each. In just one week, HP sold over one million tablets!
The HTC Flyer, was launched in the 2nd quarter of 2011, and is different in many ways from the majority of other tablets that have entered or will enter the marketplace.
First of all, its size is 7". The majority of the first tablets were 10" and large. The 7" size seems now to be the most favored by consumers. This has even prompted Apple to start looking at a "mini iPad" with a 7" screen. The size of a tablet may come down to personal preference but one thing is certain, the 7" size does make it easier to fit the HTC Flyer into a purse or a jacket pocket!
The smaller size may be one reason why the Taiwanese company has opted to run Android 2.3/2.4, Google's Gingerbread operating system, rather than the Honeycomb(Android 3.0), which has been designed for the larger tablets.
The company has insisted that its HTC Sense User Interface is much more important than the underlying Android OS powering the device. HTC has optimized the Sense UI for the tablet PC experience. The Sense UI delivers a 3D home screen with a carousel of widgets which puts the user's most important information right at the visual center of the user's experience.
The biggest feature difference between the HTC Flyer and most of the other tablets is that it is designed to be used with a stylus. It will similar to that of the Asus MeMO. However, the Asus MeMO has a pressure-sensitive screen and the HTC Flyer has a pressure-sensitive pen.
HTC's Scribe note-taking technology drives the pen and enables writing as well as doodling. It is able to synchronize with Evernote software as well. Through the HTC Time Mark feature, users are able to record audio and video while taking notes for playback through the Flyer. This feature would be extremely helpful if one has forgotten what the note's original meaning was when it was recorded.
The stylus itself features N-trig pen technology (combines pen and multi-touch capabilities). The Flyer also has palm rejection technology built in. With this feature the tablet has the ability to distinguish between intentional and false touch and allows users to rest their palms on the display while writing. This can give the user the feeling of writing on paper. One other helpful feature is that every time an application can make use of the new stylus, a small icon will pop up in the bottom right hand side of the screen so the user can edit the brush types and use case.
The Flyer weighs just under a pound and is constructed with an aluminum unibody build. The standard Menu, Back, Search and Home functions can be found at the bottom of the body. These glow when in use. There is a volume toggler on the right hand side. The Notifications bar has been combined with a Quick Settings bar, which is popular on the HTC smartphone, Desire S.
It will feature a single-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor, a 7-inch capacitive TFT LCD display with a 1024 x 600 screen resolution and 1GB of RAM. It will come with 32GB of internal storage that is Micro SD expandable. It supports b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP for wireless headsets and includes a 3.5mm audio jack.
The HTC Flyer has 2 cameras, a 5 megapixel on the back and a 1.3 megapixel for video chats on the front. Also included is an internal GPS, an ambient light sensor, a g-sensor, and a digital compass. Flash 10 and HTML5 is supported as well. The battery life of 4 hours when viewing video is not very impressive but will at least allow the user to watch a video straight through.
Two popular HTC services will be available on the HTC Flyer, HTC Watch, the company's on-demand HD video download service and OnLine, a cloud-based gaming service that allows users to either play games from the service on the tablet or on HDTVs.
A 10-inch version of the HTC Flyer, which specifically targets the iPad for competition, is also available and features LTE 4G.
This company has released a tablet designed for kids. It is a 7" tablet called the Fable. The Fable has the Android mobile operating system and for the first time children can have their own device with their own account which enables them to access apps for sharing photos as well as for reading, drawing and playing games.
This company has released both a tablet for commercial use and one for the consumer.
The first quarter of 2011 saw the launch of the much-awaited Motorola Xoom. The Xoom pairs with Verizon on its 3G network and offers compatibility for 4G networking where it is available.
The Motorola Xoom has been hyped as the direct competitor with Apple's iPad for several reasons:
First, it was the first to run on Honeycomb, Google's operating system, Android 3.0, developed for use by tablets. The 10.1" full HD widescreen touchscreen device with 1280x800 (16:10) screen resolution is a perfect size to run Honeycomb which has been optimized for larger screen Tablets.
Second, the Xoom is driven by a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor with two 1GHz chips for excellent multi-tasking, a 600MHz system bus and 1MB L2 cache with a 1GB DDR2 memory. The device can stream 700p video to its screen and also comes with full 1080p HD support with an HDMI outport to a TV.
Third, there is a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with a dual-LED flash for picture-taking and recording 720p videos as well as a 2 megapixel front facing webcam for video chats.
Fourth, the Xoom comes with a choice of embedded 3G or Wi-Fi capability and will be able to use 4G LTE (Verizon) compatibility with an external modem attachment. A Wi-Fi-only model is also available.
It is important to note that connection will require a mandatory Verizon activation. Four data plans will be available. These will be month-to-month agreements but the tablet will need to be activated for at least one month even to just use the Motorola Xoom's Wi-Fi connection.
Fifth, the Xoom supports HTML5 and Google Chrome. The Xoom launched without Flash support but now supports the version (Flash 10.2),which adds mobile support to the web-based content platform.
Other Motorola Xoom Features Info:
The Xoom is Bluetooth compatible and can be used with a wireless keyboard while it is on its dock. The dock is fairly typical except for the addition of a USB port to connect peripherals.
Although the Xoom comes with 32GB onboard storage, a microSD port is included for extra storage. The slot is activated with the Android 3.2 update, but beware that Android tablets can read an SD card but are not able to write to it from the tablet (although one can write to a mounted SD card through a PC using a USB connection).
There is no need for buttons on the front of the Motorola Xoom because they have been built into the Android 3.0 OS by Google. Motorola calls this feature a "persistent navigation bar" because the user does not have to constantly hit a hardware button to go back again and again through menu screens.
Additionally, if the Xoom is being used for viewing a TV program, the navigation bar will dim to be less distracting.
The Xoom can be used with just one hand, if necessary, in either landscape or portrait mode. An accelerometer and gyroscope allow for gaming by waving the device. Features also included are a compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor and a barometer. THe Motorola Xoom has 10 hours of battery life for watching videos.
Motorola has also included its Media Link function that will take free content from iTunes and load it onto the device. This is another example of the acknowledgement of a manufacturer of the power of Apple iTunes and the realization that consumers need to know that they can choose an Android or non-iOS tablet and not lose what they have invested in their iTunes music library.
It would seem from the specifications of the Motorola Xoom that it is indeed a major contender for Top Tablet. Only time will tell whether or not it can surpass the popularity of the Apple iPad, especially since an iPad 3 has finally made it's.
Google's Nexus 16GB 7" Tablet by ASUS
7" tablets are extremely popular with consumers and Google has jumped into the fray with its first offering dubbed the Nexus, which is proving to be an excellent 7" tablet.
Jelly Bean–Google Android 4.1
The Nexus from ASUS is Google's first tablet and the first tablet to use Google's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean mobile operating system. Jelly Bean offers a superior Google experience on a tablet with drag and drop controls, better and smarter notifications, home screen customization, new widgets, intuitive controls and no shortage of customizable options.
Special Features of the Nexus 7 Tablet
The Nexus Tablet can be accessed with just a smile! Inputting a password is no longer needed. In answer to the Apple's Siri, on the Nexus 7, tapping the microphone on the keyboard and just speaking will allow for email checking and typing out any text.
The Nexus 7 is lightweight (less than a pound) and slim (0.41") with a 7" IPS multi-touch capacative touch with 10 finger support. The LED backlit high resolution 16:10 screen is 1280 x800 (216 ppi), which will give deeper black levels and vibrant color for viewing high-definition videos. The screen is made by Corning of scratch-resistant glass.
The battery life of the lithium-polymer 4325mAh battery is excellent. The Nexus 7 should be able to last over 9 hours during HD video playback or 10 hours when browsing the web or e-reading and up to 300 hours when in stand-by mode.
With Google's Nexus 7, users have full access to Google Play including the following:
The world's largest collection of eBooks with all the extras of a true eBook reader.
- Movies & TV shows:
Movies and TV shows are available instantly and in full HD. No longer the need to wait for downloading, syncing or bothering with storage space.
- Gaming & Apps:
Gaming is superior with this tablet, which was designed with gaming in mind. On Google Play there are over 600,000 titles to choose from.
Single copies of new issues can be purchased or subscriptions to favorite magazines are available.
Google Play allows uploading of up to 20,000 songs for free from a computer's music library or all music can be streamed from the cloud. An entire iTunes music library can be easily imported into Google Play (except for DRM protected songs). Additionally, at play.google.com and on any other Android compatible phones or tablets, music on the web can be fully enjoyed.
- Google Now:
The Nexus can check the weather, find out the status of traffic before leaving for work, a favorite team's score while they're playing, etc., and it is all done automatically.
- Google Chrome:
Google Chrome is Google's latest browser which offers faster page loading and rendering.
- Google Gmail to Go:
Swiping back and forth between email threads enables quick responses in order to get through an inbox more quickly and more efficiently. There is also an offline mode that allows searching for emails when Wi-Fi is not available.
- Google+ Hangouts:
With the Nexus 7 Tablet, up to nine friends at once can chat through the 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera.
- You Tube in HD:
Needless to say, You Tube videos will be available in dazzling high-definition!
Additional Specs of the Google Nexus 7 by Asus:
The processor is a 1.2GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 Quad-Core CPU. Unique to the Nexus, the processor can also run at 1.3GHz using only one core. Thus, full processing power is available when needed or battery power can be conserved when it is not needed.
The Nexus 7 has 1 GB of Internal Ram and 16GB of flash storage (also comes in 8GB). Note: there is no expandable memory available (no SD slot).
Wireless is 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.
A Micro-USB port, docking port, and audio jack are included.
Sensors include a G-Sensor, Gyroscope, GPS, and Light Sensor.
The Nexus 7 has a 1.2MP Webcam for video chat only. There is no camera in the back for taking snapshots.
Miscellaneous features include Integrated Stereo Speakers, dual Microphones, 2x Integrated Microphone and a 1x 1/8" (3.5mm) Headphone/Microphone. NOTE: There is NO HDMI out.
Although the Google Nexus 7 Tablet is missing an SD slot (though media can be accessed from the "Cloud," has no back camera for taking snapshots and no HDMI out capability, its powerful specs, combined with a relatively low price, make it an excellent consumer choice.
Nexus 7 Tablet
The Galaxy Tab has a 7" AMOLED display and runs Android 2.2. It is 3G and Wi-Fi capable. It also has an A8 CPU with 1.2GHz processor and front and back cameras. It comes with 16GB of on board memory, a 4000mAh battery unit and a microSD card slot
Samsung Galaxy Tab (Verizon Wireless)
The model is the TVA 200. This model has a 7" touchscreen with an 800x480 resolution. A Freescale ARM Cortex A8 CPU runs 800MHz. It also has a front facing camera. There are 2 USB ports and an SD card reader. There is also a rechargeable 3450mAh Li-ion battery and a built-in charging dock.
The Toshiba Thrive has a high-resolution 10.1" diagonal screen sporting a wide-view LED-backlit capacitive multi-touch screen display. The display itself uses Toshiba's adaptive display technology which allows the screen to adjust brightness and contrast to the surrounding light conditions. The screen resolution is 1280x800 with an aspect ratio of 16:10.
A NVIDIA Tegra 2, 1GHz dual-core processor with NVIDIA GeForce graphics runs Android's Honeycomb (3.0) OS for easy web surfing, game-playing, book-reading, etc., with full access to Google Mobile Services and Android Market Apps. The Thrive has a memory of 1GB DDR2 RAM. It comes with 16GB of storage memory which can be upgraded through the SD card slot. The tablet also comes in a 32GB model.
The Thrive is Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth (Bluetooth Version 3.0 + HS)capable with afull-size HDMI port as well as a USB 2.0 and Mini USB. This tablet also has an SC card slot and a removable battery. The battery is a Prismatic Lithium-Ion Battery with a battery life touted to be up to 11.0 hours. It also possesses a gyroscope and accelerometer as well as an ambient light sensor.
This tablet's 2MP front webcam allows for chat, video conferencing and snapping still pictures. To capture photos and videos in high-def and to take advantage of augmented reality apps, there is a 5MP rear camera with auto-focus and 720p video capture.. Toshiba's Resolution+ Video Enhancement Technology can make regular photos, clips and movies look and feel more like high definition as it upconverts standard-def movies, improving sharpness and color in real-time.
Supported formats include: MPEG-4, WAVE, H.263, Ogg Vorbis, MP3, AAC+, AMR-NB, H.264, AAC, Adobe Flash, WMA, AMR-WB, ACC+ Enhanced, MIDI.
The stereo speakers combine with custom sound enhancement for viewing movies, listening to music and playing games. There is also a 3.5mm Stereo headphone jack
Input into the tablet is done with a virtual keyboard with Swype technology.
The comfortable to hold surface is rubberized and slip-resistant. The dimensions are as follows: 10.75" wide by 6.97" high x0.62" deep. It weights 1.6 pounds. There are 5 buttons: the back cover lock, power button, volume control button, and screen rotation lock. The Toshiba Thrive AT105-TR1016 comes out of the box as a 10.1" Android Tablet with Wi-FI and 16GB. A 30W auto-sensing, 100-240V/50-60Hz AC Adapter and a USB Cable.
- Some customers had problems with updating the operating system through the Toshiba site.
- The choice of switch technology affects key response (the positive feedback that a key has been pressed) and travel (the distance needed to push the key to enter a character reliably can be different on other keyboards).
- GPS is SLOW – often takes 21-2 minutes to initialize outside with no obstructions and won't initialize at all inside a house (even near a window) or car.
- This tablet is NOT good as a gaming device due to the bulk but is great for watching movies, reading books, surfing the web, doing email,etc.
- Doesn't charge via USB. Requires dedicated charger BUT battery life is good.
- The headset volume is sufficient if external speakers or blue tooth headphones are used. But if basic earbuds are being used, it would be advisable to purchase a headphone amp to increase the volume to a listenable level.
- Amazon will advise if apps are compatible or not and the free app of the day is a nice way to explore the capabilities of the tablet.
- The Toshiba Thrive will play video from either a USB mass-storage drive or an SD card.
- Use the Swype keyboard with a Wacom Bamboo Stylus to get really good results.
- The Thrive uses Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.
The above examples of tablets are only a representative few of the many tablets that will continue to hit the market. Please come often and/or subscribe to our blog and I will keep you up to date on all of them as they become available.
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