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CES 2011: Wow, tablets! ... meh ...

If you have read any of my posts over the last 6 months, I have waxed philosophic about tablet trends.  I have been looking for the mighty tablet vendor to stand up to Apple.  In 2010, nobody was able to challenge Apple.

CES (Consumer Electronics Show for you newbies) is the annual international conference where all the vendors come together to showcase whats new in techno geek must-haves.  This year's show delivers all improved devices from all the expected vendors, but underwhelms from a 'new' technology perspective.

So what was the 'hot' item (from vendors' perspective!) ?  tablets of course.  I've been controlling myself to not just say 'so what!' but the truth is that everybody is trying to play catch up.

Not only that, but many tablet manufacturers tried and kind of flopped with using Android 2.x OS on tablet devices.  Even Google says that Android isn't designed for tablets, but nobody listened.  Now Android 3.x is on its way, and has some features incorporated that will help make it more of a tablet OS.  Still, innovation is lagging behind the leader: Apple.

Rumors are about that say that that iPad 2 may have 2 cameras like the iPhone 4, as well as a new higher resolution screen.  Apple recently bought a huge stockpile of touchscreens for new iPad devices, and along with recent EU standards for mobile device charging which imply that new Apple devices will have some form of USB connector, there is reason for consumers to be excited about the changes that we may see in a few months.
ASUS Transformer Convertible Tablet

A couple noteworthy tablet devices did come out of CES 2011:  The Motorola Xoom has Wifi and mobile broadband through Verizon, runs Android 3.x, and has a 10.1 inch HD screen.  It has a dual core processor, an HDMI video output and generally has all top of the line specs as far as tablets are concerned.  It took the "best of show" prize, so that means a lot of people appreciated the attention to detail.

RIM's Blackberry PlayBook is looking very interesting, and has the potential to boost the Blackberry brand out of its 'utilitarian' reputation.

ASUS is apparently attempting to claim title from Archos in the "how many devices can we announce at once" game...  ASUS announced 4 mobile devices at CES.  Their most interesting model is their Transformer which has looks like an ultraportable notebook, but the screen detaches becoming a tablet device.

So are any of these devices iPad contenders ?  Hard to say.  I think the hardware is just barely starting to catch up to Apple, but the software is still lagging far behind.  What I've seen of Android 3.x, it is better, but still not improving at a pace to catch up to Apple.  Any way you look at it, the facts and rumors of Apple's new lineup put a damper on everybody else's tablet announcements, and Apple is still the standard to which everything else is measured.

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