It was nice to see Samsung get lots of publicity after showing its Android-based Galaxy Tab tablet at the IFA 2010 trade show in Berlin. But the Tab was just the first of a string of new products as companies pile in to what they hope will become a viable new market, rather than a passing fad.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is essentially an Android 2.2 phone with a 7 inch screen. You can make phone calls with it, but you’ll probably want to use a Bluetooth headset, or use it as a speakerphone. (It has cameras so you can also make video calls.) The device will be sold by “major American carriers” as yet unnamed, and presumably some European ones too.
Toshiba’s Folio 100 is another Android tablet with a 10.1 inch capacitive touchscreen and a 1.3MP front-facing camera for video calls. In this case, Wi-Fi is standard and a 3G connection optional. At 760g, it weighs slightly more than an Apple iPad and about twice as much as the Galaxy Tab. In the UK, it’s expected to retail for £329 including VAT.
ViewSonic’s ViewPad comes in two sizes with 7 inch and 10 inch screens. The ViewPad 7 runs Android 2.2 and doubles as a phone, with both 3G and Wi-Fi networking. Again it has two cameras, with one front-facing for video calls. The ViewPad 100 is a different sort of beast, and uses a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N455 processor to dual-boot either Android 1.6 or Microsoft Windows 7. In the press release, Derek Wright, European Product Marketing Manager, says:
“The ViewPad 100 is aimed at those who want the speed and portability of Android without losing the advantages of having a Windows-based system. We recognise many users may be transitioning from a netbook but will possibly struggle with the learning curve of a new OS, even for simple tasks [such] as uploading photos or using a VPN. Eventually they may choose to favour one over the other, but they will always have the choice.”
Archos is due to show off five Android tablets on Friday, starting with a £99 Archos 28 with a 2.8 inch screen. At the top end of the range are two models with capacitive multi-touch screens: the £229 Archos 70 Internet Tablet, which has a 7 inch screen, and the £269 Archos 101 with a 10.1 inch screen.
More tablets are expected, and since you can easily buy tablets from a range of Chinese manufacturers, there is plenty of scope for badge-engineering. However, according to DigiTimes of Taiwan:
“Compal Electronics president Ray Chen at a company investors conference on September 1, commented that he expects shipments of non-Apple tablet PCs to not exceed 15 million units in 2011 and players will quickly quit after finding out the market is not as easy as they expect.”
I’m not at IFA myself so don’t expect any hands-on reports, but I’ll be watching the news over the weekend to see if anything interesting turns up.
AndroidCentral.com’s Galaxy Tab Hands On http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP7bqMuqiN8