Tablet Wars Kick Into High Gear With Top Seven Devices

As I follow the Tablet Wars, I am amazed at the appeal the iPad has stimulated and the success of its first-generation product. To date, Apple is selling more than 200,000 iPads per week, outpacing the Mac in the United States and selling out inventory at most stores. In February, I wrote my first report on the Tablet Wars. This follow-up discusses the current status of seven of those devices.

At the end of this blog, take a minute to vote in our "What Tablet Will Rule The Market?" Poll and let us know your thoughts regarding this TOP SEVEN list.

1- Verizon-Google Tablet

Still kept under secrecy wraps, the joint project between Google and Verizon will feature Android as its operating system. Presently it's all speculation as to its release date, but Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam hinted in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that it would most likely make it to market in 2011 and could feature 4G connectivity with Verizon's LTE networks. McAdam also acknowledged that Verizon has some catching up to do in the field, since AT&T appears to be the telecom front runner with their current deals with Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad.

Operating System: Android
Price: Unknown

2- BlackBerry Tablet

Boy Genius Report was the first to report on Rim's BlackBerry tablet as more of a "companion device" rather than a direct competitor of the iPad. It's a tablet with an 8.9-inch touchscreen and will not feature any 3G connectivity. This means it will have to connect through WiFi or be connected through a user's existing BlackBerry device. While the launch is slated for December, BGR noted it is not sure why BlackBerry is releasing a watered-down tablet, "especially since RIM employees have privately voiced their frustration to (BGR) regarding this initiative."

Operating System: Blackberry OS
Price: Unknown

3- HP Hurricane

This device will be the first test of HP's acquisition of Palm and will affirm whether or not the webOS operating system is going to be successful in the short and long term. Nonetheless, HP is banking on its  cutting-edge technology and webOS. In addition to the HP Hurricane, the operating system will serve as the foundation of a whole range of HP-branded connected mobile devices and accompanying cloud services. This device will also have a leg-up over the iPad based on features the Apple device currently lacks, namely Adobe Flash, dual cameras and a USB port and/or SD memory card slot. No word as to the launch date on the 'Hurricane.'

Operating system: webOS
Price: Unknown

4- Lenovo IdeaPad U1

Differing from some of the other tablets listed here, the Lenovo is a hybrid tablet that can be plugged into a keyboard terminal and used as a more traditional PC. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor as the tablet and on a Intel Core 2 Duo SU4100 processor when attached to its terminal. Similar to most of the other tablets, it has both WiFi and 3G connectivity. Scheduled for a summer roll-out, Lenovo calls it the laptop "with two brains," where others have referred to it as "the mullet of notebook computers: business in the front, party in the back."

Operating System: Windows
Price: Suggested at $999

5- The Dell Mini Streak

Coming in at only 5 inches, the Mini Streak is a much smaller touchscreen tablet than the others. With resolution of 800 by 480 pixels, the device will have a Quallcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor giving it processing power equal to the iPad. Partnering with AT&T, it will most likely make it to market this summer and will support both WiFi and 3G GSM connectivity. It will also sport two cameras: a webcam in the front that could potentially be used for videoconferencing, and a 5-megapixel camera on the back.

Operating System: Android
Price: Unknown

6- Archos 7 Home Tablet

Priced a lot less than the other tablets , the Archos 7 Home Tablet feature s a 7-inch screen with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels and a flash memory  between 2GB and 8GB. The device comes with a built-in battery designed to give up to forty hours of audio playback and up to seven hours of video playback. The device is now available for pre-order on Amazon in the US, although folks in Europe have been allowed to place pre-orders as early as March. According to one report, no contracts are required with the purchase of an Archos. (See Archos Tablet)

Operating System: Android
Price: Starts at $199

7- Apple's iPad

We end with the now "grand-daddy" of tablets- the one that made it first to market - Apple's iPad. Held up as the standard, you can see where others on this list are using iPad as the jumping off point to add new features and differentiators to sell against this device. But even with Apple's continued jihad against Adobe flash and lacking a camera, today's iPad is still very impressive. The device sports 1GHz Apple A4 processor, a 9.7-inch screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels and connectivity with both WiFi and GSM-based 3G networks. Combine this with the 1000s of applications sold through the iTunes Apps Store, and you've got a tablet that is a strong competitor with the others listed here.

Operating System: iPhone OS
Price: $500 for 16GB Wi-Fi model; $629 for 16GB Wi-Fi/3G model.

For more detailed specs on these devices and others, check out my previous blog that provides you with an in-depth feature comparisons and spec charts (see "Tablet Wars: iPad vs HP Slate vs JooJoo vs Dell Mini 5 vs Archos7 vs Notion Ink Adam"). Or if you're wondering why the Joo-Joo didn't make this list, take a look at "iPad 700,000, CrunchPad 90 - JooJoo Loses Its MoJo!"

Now, let's hear from you. Is the iPad still the 'gold standard' or will some of these newer 'upstart' devices steal some of its thunder? Sometimes the first to market becomes the leader… if you can remember when iPods first came on the scene and soon became synonymous with the term "MP3 players."

Vote in our POLL and let us know which tablet you are favoring, and of course your feedback in the COMMENT section is always welcome.


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