Last Saturday, one of our lucky staff members won the prize of coming in to the office to pick up our new toy: Apple’s® new iPad™. We opted for all the bells and whistles, so that we can use it for testing and developing applications.
We are pretty excited, and have been working on app development for the iPad since the developer kit was released. The media is abuzz about the new device and next few weeks will be an iPad frenzy as they begin to arrive.
The iPad is a great new device that takes mobile computing and application development to a whole new level by being ultra portable, mobile and convenient. However, there are many other tablet devices set to come out this year that are really amazing as well, and definitely deserve some attention.
For this week’s column, we’ve decided to tell you about some of the other tablet options and why we are pretty excited about them too.
German Company Neofonie™ announced a new entry to the the tablet market: the WePad™. Not to be confused with the iPad, the WePad has a very impressive arsenal of features and hardware. Based around Google’s open Android operating system, the WePad boasts a 11. 6″ display, a 1. 66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor, a webcam, USB sockets, a flash card reader, and many other impressive features.
With the Android operating system, it will be able to download and run apps from the Android Marketplace, as well as its own WePad AppStore, which means that current android apps should be able to run fine on the WePad, or have WePad specific applications. Also, unlike the iPad, the Android OS allows multitasking which creates a much better user experience.
Even though Neofonie has a working prototype that they showcased last week, they have yet to announce a release date or purchase price. But even so, if it can do everything they say it can, it is going to be one of the most impressive tablets on the market, and it provides encouragement to those looking to build apps for android phones since they will also get to play with tablet devices.
However, the WePad isn’t the only upcoming Android-based tablet.
ARCHOS Home Tablets
Announced earlier this month by the French company Archos™, the ARCHOS 7 Home Tablet and ARCHOS 8 Home Tablet are the latest in their mobile computing options. The Archos Home Tablets are each designed for specific applications, and each targets a different market.
The Archos 7 is the smaller of the two, sporting a 7″ touch screen, but it comes packed with power, and is probably the least expensive of all the tablets listed here, at just $200. The Archos 8 Home Tablet is larger and is intended to display like a picture frame, which is meant for the home or kitchen.
For example, you could prop it up in the kitchen and use it when preparing a meal to access the Internet, pull up recipes and cooking instructions or chat with people online. Then when it’s not in use, you could it could just display pictures or video.
That’s not to diminish the power or portability of the device, however it is meant as a compact stand-alone computer that can be displayed in any room in the house. But for a more mobile and portable device, the Home 7 tablet may be a better fit.
Both of these devices run on Google’s Android™, and they each reach a very specific audience. As a software developer, we definitely see the potential for developing custom apps for these devices, especially since the apps would be available to all Android devices as well.
Archos is also expected to release yet another mobile internet tablet later this summer, called Archos 9, which will also be powered by the Android OS, be slightly larger than the Archos Home 7 and include improved web connectivity.
Notion Ink: Adam
Based out of India, Notion Ink™ was founded with the express purpose of creating tablet computers. Notion Ink has cutely called their first creation Adam™, a very impressive tablet that runs on the Android OS.
Among its features is that it runs Adobe Flash to leverage the best of rich internet applications, has a 180 degree swivel camera for video chart or taking front-facing pictures, multi-touch support and 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. In addition, Adam also features a Pixel QI transflective screen. What is that? It is a 10. 1 inch screen that can switch between backlit LCD mode like on other tablets, and a low-power electrophoretic reflective mode, which looks more or less like e-ink, making it a great solution for switching between video and ebooks and greatly extending battery life while reading.
Expected to be released this June, Adam claims to have up to 16 hours of HD video playback, supporting 1080p video, all powered by a dual-core ARM processor and an NVidia GPU.
Adam really opens up the door to future application development possibilities for mobile and portable devices. Needless to say, we can’t wait to get our hands on one.
Microsoft Courier (Rumored)
Jumping back to the US, Microsoft™ has a “secret” upcoming product called the Courier. It still has not been officially announced by Microsoft, but the web is full of demo videos and pictures all showing prototypes of the device. Does that make it true? No, not necessarily. But the rumors are so juicy and the Courier looks so good that we can hardly resist.
What makes the Courier especially unique is that it is actually not a tablet—it’s a booklet. It has dual 7-inch multi-touch screens, which means that you get a lot of screen space, but it folds down into a very compact size.
Not much is known about the exact specs on this device, but we can be pretty sure that it will involve Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 operating system, which should provide plenty of power and diversity to the device. Also, the Windows Phone OS app development uses XNA, . NET and Silverlight, which are used in the development of Windows and gaming software, which should make courier apps very powerful and versatile.
HP Slate Windows 7 Tablet
Another US contender, Hewlett Packard™ announced their Slate™ tablet set to be released as early as June. This one also comes with an estimated price of $540, which is right in line with the iPad. However, the HP slate also boasts Flash capability, a faster processor, and runs on a Windows 7 Platform, meaning that it should be able to run anything that you can run on Windows 7, including any internet browser, Photoshop and games.
However, managing traditional Windows applications with only a multi-touch screen may not be the best solution in all cases, and so it also has Bluetooth capability and USB ports for easy attachment of a keyboard or mouse.
We are slightly surprised that HP went for Windows 7 instead of the Windows 7 Phone OS, but in either case it presents some exciting capabilities and considering it comes from an already well known brand and beats the iPad on specs, it could become a very popular platform.
Dell Mini 5 Android Tablet
Unveiled at CES earlier this year, Dell® announced a concept 5″ tablet that runs on the Anroid OS. It also comes with 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and is a mix between a large phone and a tablet. Or in other words, it is a really very smart phone.
Dell is also running with Android, which makes it another platform for Android apps and those that develop for them. The Dell Mini 5 also boasts a 1GHz Snapdragon processor that should give it plenty of power without sacrificing batter life.
Spring Design Alex Ebook Reader
Spring Design™ combines a traditional E-reader with a second LCD screen, based off of Android OS. This beats out other dedicated E-readers because it has a web browser and provides the best of both worlds. It also comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and Ebooks from Borders bookstore.
The combination between and E-reader and LCD provides for some cool combination applications as well as improved battery life and better readability of web page content.
Once again, the Android OS means some compatibility between other Android powered devices, which provides even better distribution for Android applications.
Singapore based company, Fusion Garage™, announced the JooJoo™ late last year. According to their website, JooJoo is based off of the African word “joujou,” meaning magical device. And this device is magical.
With a 12-inch LCD screen, the JooJoo boasts the ability to play HD videos and has Wi-Fi capability. This product is currently available for pre-order, for around $500. One thing that makes the JooJoo different is that it runs apps completely through the Web and runs on its own proprietary operating system.
Fusion Garage announced their tablet just before the iPad and so has become an underdog in the news. However, according to Fusion Garage, orders have actually increased since the iPad announcement. In either case, this probably will not become a mainstream device, but it is an alternative option that may be worth consideration.
Lenovo U1 Hybrid Notebook
Lenovo® has been working with small netbooks and tablet PCs for some time, but the U1 hybrid™ notebook represents a shift in their tablet technology.
The unique feature is that it is essentially a netbook – small portable and similar to a laptop, but then the screen can detach and function like an independent slate tablet. This literally puts two PCs into one device, and each has its own processor and operating system, but work together as a clamshell laptop or a multitouch slate tablet.
In this way, the base serves as a hop and docking station, whereas the tablet can be used in very mobile instances. The two processors also use Lenovo’s Hybrid Switch technology which allows seamless toggling between the two processors.
The U1 runs on the Skylight Linux operating system, designed specifically for small devices, and has a user-facing camera and a wealth of features, including 3G connectivity, multi-touch, and long batter life. Unfortunately all these features cost a bit more than other slate tablets, pricing it at $1000, but still within the range for new laptops. It should be available by June of this year.
Lenovo also has a few other small notebooks coming out this year, including the Skylight Smartbook. Lenovo still pairs their slate tablets with a keyboard, but that may prove to be a positive bonus to those who are dissatisfied with touch-screen typing.
As a developer, we look forward to continuing Linux-based development, and it will be exciting to see if mobile application development takes off on this type of platform.
If you noticed, there are a whole bunch of Android powered devices. Market studies show Android taking over Apple’s iPhone OS as soon as 2013, and you can see with so many devices running on Android that the market for Android application is only going to get larger.
We are currently working clients to develop applications the iPhone/iPad operating system, as well as the Android OS, and have achieved remarkable results for our clients. This market is only going to grow, and even though we are excited about our new iPad, and even our Microsoft Surface (a giant tablet?), custom software development for these new devices is something that can help businesses reach and engage users in ways that have never before been possible.
About Todd McMurtrey
The marketing team at Amadeus Consulting considers it part of their daily tasks to stay on top of what is going on in the technology marketplace. It is important to our company culture to be technology thought leaders, but we also want to share our knowledge and insights with readers excited about the latest and greatest tech news in the Tech Market Watch blog.