Tablet Wars of 2011: The Battle Looms

The iPad rules the tablet world right now, but an Android army has begun its attack. Soon to join the fray are even more tablets, equipped with the Windows, WebOS, and Sugar operating systems. Here's what to expect in the year ahead.

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It has been nearly a year since the iPad launched, and manufacturers have been hard at work trying to catch up and compete with Apple's popular tablet device. The closest competitor so far is Samsung's Galaxy Tab--the company recently announced it had sold 1 million Tabs in less than two months.

The future is looking bright for tablets, with major players such as Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, and Research In Motion set to release devices in the coming months. Smaller manufacturers such as the India-based startup Notion Ink are also trying to bring tablets to market. Here's a look at some of the tablets available today, as well as some of the anticipated slates set to debut next year.

Tablet Wars: 3 Reasons Why iPad Will Prevail

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Apple iPad

Price: $500 to $830

Specs: 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display, 1024-by-768-pixel resolution, 1GHz Apple A4 processor, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 3G (optional), iOS 4.2, AirTunes, 30-pin dock connector; 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB storage options

Status: Available

Details: Rumors abound that a second version of the iPad is due in January. The new version may make up for some of the current model's shortcomings by introducing a camera, improved display resolution, and a USB port.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab

Price: $600 to $900

Specs: 7-inch (diagonal) TFT display, 1024-by-600-pixel resolution, 3.2-megapixel rear-facing camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera (for video chat), 1GHz processor, Swype touchscreen keyboard, 2GB on-board memory, SD expansion slot (32GB maximum), Android OS 2.2 (Froyo), Adobe Flash 10.1, 3G, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, DLNA

Status: Available

Details: Despite the fact that Samsung doesn't yet offer a Wi-Fi-only version, the Samsung Galaxy Tab has already exceeded the company's projection of selling 1 million devices worldwide by the end of 2010. The Tab isn't selling nearly as fast as the iPad is, but it has clearly carved out its own niche within the tablet market.

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RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

Price: Unknown

Specs: 7-inch (diagonal) LCD screen, 1024-by-600-pixel WSVGA resolution, 1GB RAM, 1GHz Dual Core processor, Adobe Flash 10.1, micro-USB, micro-HDMI, 3-megapixel front-facing camera, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi

Status: Expected 2011

Details: Research In Motion says this device is coming in early 2011, but nobody has seen a working prototype. Until details become concrete, this device remains in the vaporware category. The initial PlayBook will reportedly lack 3G connectivity and will have to tether with a BlackBerry smartphone to get Internet access when the user is out of Wi-Fi range, but RIM has said that later versions of the tablet will feature 3G/4G connectivity.

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Fusion Garage JooJoo

Price: Not available

Specs (first-generation device): 12.1-inch (diagonal) display, 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, 1GB RAM, 4GB solid-state drive, 1.6GHz Atom processor, one USB 2.0 port, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, Adobe Flash 10.1, Linux-based browser operating system

Status: Expected 2011

Details: Fusion Garage has promised a next-generation, Android-based JooJoo with multiple screen sizes, to come out in the first half of 2011. But considering how young this startup is, it's not clear whether the company will be able to produce new devices as quickly as it claims. Fusion Garage says that it's well funded, but it is also burdened with a very public lawsuit from TechCrunch. The JooJoo has moved back into the vaporware column--and will stay there until Fusion Garage starts shipping again.

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HP Slate 500

Price: $800

Specs: 8.9-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display, 1024-by-600-pixel WSVGA resolution (limited 1024-by-768 support), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, 64GB solid-state drive, SD expansion slot, front-facing camera, 3-megapixel rear-facing camera, Windows 7 Professional (32-bit), 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540 processor, 2GB DDR2 RAM

Status: Enterprise sales only

Details: HP decided to develop its initial Slate 500 exclusively for business customers, but the WebOS-based consumer version (see the next slide) is expected in early 2011.

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HP WebOS Tablet

Price: Not available

Specs: Not available

Status: Coming early 2011

Details: You could argue that HP's WebOS tablet is just as likely to be vaporware as RIM's PlayBook is, except HP has already demonstrated its ability to build a tablet with the Slate 500 (see the previous slide). Also, company executives have confirmed that this device will be available in early 2011.

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Kno

Price: $599 (single screen) or $899 (dual screen)

Specs: 14.1-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display, 1440-by-900-pixel WXGA resolution, 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor, 512MB RAM, Ubuntu 9.10, 16GB or 32GB flash storage, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, one micro-USB port

Status: Available

Details: Designed specifically for students and educational institutions, the Kno is a whopper of a tablet. The single-panel slate weighs 2.6 pounds, while the dual-screen device tips the scales at 5.6 pounds. The company claims that the Kno will pay for itself after three terms of college.

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Notion Ink Adam

Price: $500

Specs: 10.1-inch (diagonal) display, 1024-by-600-pixel WSVGA resolution, dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 1GB DDR2 RAM, 8GB flash storage, expandable MicroSD card slot, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 3G HSPA, two USB 2.0 ports, GPS, 1080p HDMI out, swivel Webcam

Status: Expected 2011

Details: Notion Ink's Adam tablet enjoyed a lot of attention back in January at CES 2010, and was due to appear in the summer--but so far, it has failed to materialize. The company recently announced that it will start accepting preorders, but so far it still hasn't divulged a release date.

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Motorola's Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) Tablet

Price: Not available

Specs: Nvidia 3D dual-core processor, Webcam, 7-to-10-inch screen

Status: Sometime in 2011

Details: Google recently demonstrated Motorola's Honeycomb-based tablet during a mobile-focused conference in San Francisco. Little is known about Honeycomb--Google's Android 3.0, optimized for tablets and phones--or the device (nicknamed the "MotoPad"), but you can check out a video on AllThingsD to see the tablet in action.

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Acer Android Tablets

Price: Not available

Specs, 7-inch version: 1280-by-800-pixel resolution, front-facing camera for video chat, dual-core processor, Adobe Flash 10.1 support, DLNA

Specs, 10.1-inch version: 1080p, HDMI out, 0.52 inches thick, ten-point multitouch system, gyroscope for gaming

Status: Coming April 2011

Details: It's not yet clear if Acer intends to add features such as a dual-core processor, a Webcam, and DLNA support to both of its tablets or just the 7-inch version. More details should come out about Acer's tablet plans at CES 2011.

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Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid

Price: Not available

Specs: 11.6-inch (diagonal) detachable LED-backlit multitouch display, 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (tablet mode), 1.3GHz Core 2 Duo SU1400 processor (laptop mode), 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity

Status: Unknown

Details: Although the IdeaPad U1 is featured in Lenovo's online store, it isn't available for purchase just yet. The U1 was supposed to hit shelves in June, but the 11.6-inch netbook with a removable touchscreen tablet still isn't on the market.

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Archos 101 Tablet

Price: $300 to $350

Specs: 10.1-inch (diagonal) TFT LCD screen, 1024-by-600-pixel WXVGA resolution, 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, 8GB or 16GB flash storage, MicroSD/SDHC card slot, USB 2.0, mini-HDMI out, front-facing camera, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Android 2.2 (Froyo)

Status: Unknown

Details: Archos was shipping the Archos 101 in November, according to Engadget, but the device is currently unavailable. However, you can try out its 2.8-inch and 3.2-inch cousins, the Archos 28 and Archos 32 Internet Tablets.

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Dell Streak

Price: $300

Specs: 5-inch (diagonal) TFT LCD screen, 800-by-480-pixel WVGA resolution, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, VGA front-facing camera, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, 2GB on-board storage, 16GB preinstalled removable SD Card, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, USB 2.0, Android 1.6 (Donut)

Status: Available

Details: The debate continues over whether Dell's "pocket tablet" is a true tablet or just an oversize smartphone. Regardless, if you want a cheap pocket touchscreen computer that is bigger than the iPod Touch, the Dell Streak just might be for you.

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One Laptop Per Child XO-3

Price: Less than $100

Specs: 8.5-by-11-inch screen, virtual keyboard, 0.24 inches thick, durable and waterproof

Status: Debut delayed to February 2011

Details: First OLPC said that it would have the XO-3 tablet ready in time for CES 2011. Then in November OLPC chairman Nicholas Negroponte pushed the XO-'s debut to February. The group has lofty goals for this device, and is hoping to make something that is as thin and light as a Kindle but powerful enough to run iPad-style apps. But it's not clear whether this device will be for sale in the United States or only through special promotions similar to OLPC's give-one, get-one laptop scheme from 2008.