MOBILE MAY: Dawn of the tablet era

16 May 2011

Since the launch of the first iPad, tablets have become one of the most in-demand gadgets. Laura O’Brien finds out what these devices have to offer.

Just a little more than a year ago, the first iPad was unveiled with huge fanfare, aiming at changing the mobile computing market forever. While it was met with some skepticism, it sold a whopping 15m units in less than a year, proving there was a big demand for slate-sized mobile computers.

Fast forward to 2011 and things are a little different. Not only is there a new iPad, but there will soon be loads of other new tablets vying for your attention.

Tablet computers are designed to be incredibly useful devices for consuming information. Navigating the web through touch is a highly immersive experience, making the internet seem much more beautiful. Apps are not only bigger, but bring greater functionality, such as the wonderfully designed news-aggregating app Flipboard. Tablets excel with media, too – movies look gorgeous on their HD screens and reading e-books is a breeze, thanks to their speedy processors.

iPad 2

The successor to the first iPad is two times faster, thanks to its A5 chipset. Despite this, it still has its 10-hour battery life. It’s just 8.3mm thick and comes in two colours – black and white.

The iPad 2 has a front and rear-facing camera for video calling capabilities and has access to thousands of apps from the iTunes App Store.

HTC Flyer

The HTC Flyer has a speedy 1.5GHz single core CPU and features HTC Scribe technology, letting you write notes and draw naturally using a stylus.

Running on Android, it offers OnLive cloud gaming, allowing you to play games without needing to download or update them. It will be available in mid-summer 2011.

HTC Flyer

The HTC Flyer

BlackBerry PlayBook

The BlackBerry PlayBook runs on a 1GHz dual core processor and will support technologies such as Flash, HTML5 and Adobe AIR.

The PlayBook will also run on the new BlackBerry tablet OS and will offer full HD playback support. It will be available mid-2011.

BlackBerry Playbook

The BlackBerry PlayBook

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

The 10-inch Galaxy Tab runs on the latest version of Android – Honeycomb – designed specifically for tablets. It offers a front-facing camera and an 8-megapixel camera at the back with full HD recording capabilities.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 also has USB connectivity and will be available in the middle of 2011.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

HP TouchPad

The HP TouchPad will be the first webOS tablet computer. It has a communication suite fusing email, IM, contacts and video calling into one. The tablet has powerful multitasking capabilities, letting you listen to music, update your Facebook status and chat on IM at the same time.

It has a full virtual QWERTY keyboard, VPN support and has top sound quality by Beats Audio. The TouchPad will be available in midsummer 2011.

HP TouchPad

The HP TouchPad

Motorla Xoom

Running on Android 3.0 Honeycomb, the Motorla Xoom is powered by dual core processor, each running at 1Ghz. It supports full HD video playback and has a HDMI output to display media on bigger HD TVs.

Its mobile hotspot capability provides an online connection for up to five other Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

The Motorola Xoom

The Motorola Xoom

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