2011 Android Tablet Review and Preview

It isn’t hard to admit that when it comes to smart phones and personal computers, Apple has been leading the way in terms of innovative, easy to use, and, for lack of a better expression, sexy new products. Part of their success results from the marketing department getting out the ad campaign and building hype around release dates for these products. The rest of the company follows suit and actually delivers working products on the release date, something that the makers of Android products, in this case, tablets running the Android OS, would do well to imitate, from a business standpoint and from a consumer standpoint.

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past month showcased dozens of new Android products from different manufacturers, but too many of them, for our taste, were neither functioning nor could be described in much actual detail, and most were slated for some future unknown release date. In addition, although it would seem logical for all future self described Android Tablets to be using the Tablet-optimized OS, Android 3.0 “Honeycomb”, the truth is that only a few are promising this and many are shipping with 2.2 or 2.3 with the promise of an update, eventually.
Personally, we’re a bit tired of sneak-peeks, fuzzy YouTube videos, rumors, and products that have uncertain future release dates. Something to look forward to – any serious Tablet manufacturer should be bringing out an Android tablet by the summer, or else face being left behind.

So with the hope that the coming months will bring some great new Android Tablets, here are some concrete things (crossing fingers and hoping) we do know about what 2011 will hold for Android Tablets, in no specific order.

1. Toshiba Tablet

Toshiba Tablet, Source: Engadget

Toshiba says “Coming this Spring” – on their promo-video. “It’ll come out in the spring of 2011 and the price, we haven’t decided yet,” said Chris Casper, a group manager at Toshiba’s digital products division. With a 10.1 inch screen, it is an iPad rival (lets stop comparing everything to the iPad, shall we?), and will come with Nvidia’s Tegra 2 processor. Toshiba proudly announced that this android tablet will ship with Google’ s tablet software, called  Honeycomb, although the current version seen at CES was running the more phone-friendly Android Froyo, 2.2. See more in this video from CES

Here is what we can tell from watching the video and poking around the site a little:

Display: 10.1-inch capacitive multitouch
OS: Android Honeycomb
Processor: Nvidia Tegra 2
Cameras: 5MP Rear Camera, 2MP Front-facing camera
Connectivity:Ports: USB, MiniUSB, HDMI, Full-size SD card slot,Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Battery: Replaceable.

Again, coming this spring doesn’t mean a whole lot, but Toshiba is a pretty trustworthy company in terms of quality and intentions, so we will assume that by “this spring” they will deliver the goods by May-June.

Motorola XOOM, Coming February to BestBuy...?

2. Motorola XOOM

Now here we have something that has a bit more concrete-ness to it, if you will. The folks over at Engadget have gotten wind that BestBuy has a release date for the Motorola Xoom – February 24th, according to an internal memo circulating in the BestBuy offices. The Xoom features a 10.1 inch display, and will be priced accordingly – recent rumors have it starting at $699. However, prices might be subject (competitively) to the price of the forthcoming iPad 2 which will sell for a reported $799. Lets hope that on February 24th, we can all go down to BestBuy and take a look for ourselves.

Display: 10.1 inch
OS: Android 3.0 – Honeycomb
Processor: Dual Core 1 Ghz CPU NVIDIA Tegra 2
Cameras: 5 MP Rear camera with Flash and  720p HD video capture, 2 MP forward facing camera.
Memory and Storage: 32 GB inbuilt memory with microSD Card slot
Connectivity: Wifi(n) Bluetooth 2.1, 3G , 4G
Misc: 10 hr video playback battery life

Asus Eee Pad Transformer $399-$699

3. Asus Eee Pad Slider
4. Asus Eee Pad Transformer

At CES, Asus was showing off two of it’s tablets that will reportedly be running on Android 3.0, Honeycomb, although recent reports say they will be shipping with Android 2.3, Gingerbread instead. Google is reportedly buckling down on hardware requirements for Honeycomb and seems to have some strict requirements (rightly so, in our opinion) in place to determine who is getting Android 3.0 and who is not. Google is hopefully doing this to avoid unnecessary fragmentation that occurs when one OS runs on multiple platforms. Even if this delays the release of these new tablets (hardly, they will just ship with 2.3), we think that it will be better in the long run that any tablet that is running Android 3.o can do so without tripping up and bogging down.

The Transformer has a 10.1″ screen and docks to a keyboard that doubles as an extended battery – upping battery life to 16 hours. The Slider speaks for itself (see pictures and more pictures at Engadget. ) And check out this meet and greet video on the Slider and Transformer.

Here are the specs, the only difference between the two being the slide out QWERTY keyboard on the Slider, and a full size keyboard dock on the Transformer. The transformer will also be available with a larger harddrive (64gb):

Asus Eee Pad Slider $499-$799

Asus Eee Pad Transformer $399-$699, scheduled for April:
Asus Eee Pad Slider $499-$799, scheduled for May:

Display: 10.1-inch Capacitive touch screen, 1280 x 800
OS: Android 3.0 – Honeycomb – mist likely 2.3.
Processor: Dual Core 1 Ghz CPU NVIDIA Tegra 2
Cameras: 5 MP Rear camera and, 1. 2 MP forward facing camera.
Memory and Storage: 512MB up to 1GB RAM, and a choice of 16GB or 32GB inbuilt memory (64GB available on the Transformer?), Micro SD slot
Connectivity: WiFi / Bluetooth 2.1, USB 2.0 / mini HDMI

5. T-Mobile G-Slate with Google by LG

Yes, that is the legitimate name for this tablet. It will officially run Android 3.0 and is scheduled to be launched in the coming months, so hopefully that means by spring. Cole Brodman, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile USA recently spoke up, “T-Mobile is proud to add a new milestone in the evolution of the Android platform with our first 4G tablet powered by Android 3.0….The T-Mobile G-Slate with Google will build on our rich history of Android innovation and leadership and deliver deep integration with Google services.”

The G-Slate will be the first 4G enabled tablet from T-Mobile and LG and one of the first tablets that will utilize the full functionality of the tablet optimized Honeycomb OS from Google. Jeff Hwang, president of LG Mobile Phones noted, “Streamlining everyday tasks and enhancing entertainment with blazing fast 4G speed, the T-Mobile G-Slate by LG will deliver the latest in Android technology and provide users with an advanced tablet experience.” No definite date, but “in the next few months” probably means by March-April. We’ll see.

Take a look at this video showcasing the G-Slate running a preview of Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

7″ Tablets

The above tablets are all of the 10″ variety. There are a number of 7″ Tablets already on the market, but here are three that might stand out when they are (hopefully) released to the public in the upcoming months.

Samsung Galaxy Tablet - in stores now.

6. Samsung Galaxy Tab

Ok, this one is actually out in the stores, but we are including it in the list of 2011 Android Tablets because it is the first Android Tablet that really matters, or mattered…the first one that was even close to being a legitimate usurper in iPad land. Also because it has set the stage for what an Android tablet can be, and for what future Android tablets will be able to surpass. The thing with the Galaxy Tab is that it is 7″, for better or worse. As with all personal computers, there are niches to be filled. The Galaxy Tab tries to fill a sort of strange niche in the 7″ range, not quite a smart phone, but not quite a “real” tablet either. We’ll see where 2011 takes the Samsung Galaxy Tablet, and where, if anywhere, it might forge a path for other 7″ tablets to follow.

Display: 7 inches @ 1024×600
Processor: 1GHz ARM Cortex A8
Memory and Storage: 512MB RAM, 2GB built-in + 16GB microSD
Cameras: 3.2MP (rear); 1.2MP (front)
Monthly Data Plans: 2GB for $30; 5GB for $60
Price: $399 w/ contract (Sprint), ($599 w/out)

The Dell Streak 7

7. Dell Streak 7

Not to be confused with the oversized 5″ Dell Streak smart phone, the 7″ Version running Android 2.2 will be available “soon” according to Dell’s website: “The Streak 7 is our new WVGA 7” tablet that’s been built from the ground up to take advantage of T-Mobile’s blazingly-fast 4G network.” The Streak 7 will be available to T-Mobile customers on February 2nd, priced at $299, likely on a 2-year contract.
OS: Android 2.2
Display: Vibrant 7-inch, multitouch display. Widescreen display optimally designed for mobile Web, video and movies
Cameras: 1.3 MP front-facing camera, 5 MP rear-facing camera with flash
Memory and Storage: 16 GB of internal storage
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS built-in

8. HTC Flyer

Will the HTC Flyer be just a bigger version of the above DesireHD?

The HTC Flyer is still somewhat of a rumor, though a few leaked photos can be found hear and there on the web. Looking at the specs, it will fit nicely in the 7″ tablet range. According to Norwegian tech site Amobil, The Flyer will come with a stylus. What sort of pen (capacitive or other) or how it will necessarily interact with the screen remains to be seen. And, although we cross our fingers and hope for Honeycomb to be the OS on these tablets, rumor has it that the Flyer will ship with Android 2.3.

Display: 7-inch screen at 1024×600
Processor: A Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255
Memory and Storage: 1GB of RAM and 4Gb(?) drive.
Cameras: front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera and a rear 5 megapixel


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