Posted by: Tim | January 12, 2011

My CES 2011 Round-Up: Part 3

This is Part 3 (the last part) of my round-up of last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which took place in Las Vegas.  Here are Part 1 and Part 2.  And once again, I thank Engadget and Boy Genius Report for their live blogging and coverage of CES without them I would not have been able to follow along so easily.   This final posting takes a look at some of the tablets announced.

7”-10” of Power…and It’s Shiny

What is a Tablet?  Simple answer: a tablet is any personal computer that uses a touch screen as its primary method of input.  Tablets have been around for a while, but it’s only been in the last year or so that they’ve really started to get mainstream attention and the iPad solidified that attention.  This year is already seeing an explosion of tablets.  Let’s take a look at a handful that were announced at CES.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

  • Networks: WiFi Only / (Verizon LTE)
  • Operating system: Android 2.2 + Touchwiz
  • Display: 7” 1024 x 600-resolution LCD screen
  • Camera: 3MP / (5MP) Rear Camera w/ Auto Focus, 1.3MP front facing camera
  • Memory: 512MB ROM + 592MB RAM + 2GB User Memory + 16GB microSD™ card preinstalled, supports up to 32GB microSD card
  • WLAN: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 3.0
  • GPS:
  • Battery: 4000 mAh
  • Special features: Accelerometer, Geomagnetic, Luminance, Gyro, USB 2.0, Virtual QWERTY keyboard and SWYPE
  • Chipset: 1Ghz / (1.2GHz) Hummingbird Processor
  • Available: Q1 2011 / (Unknown)

We’ll start with the Samsung Galaxy Tab.  The Galaxy has been out in 3G form on all 4 major carriers for a little while now, but it’s being included here because Samsung announced both a contract-free WiFi only version and a slightly improved Verizon LTE version.  The WiFi only version appears to be the same as the current 3G version, which is still very nice but no longer the top of the line.  It’s a 7” Android tablet with a 1024 x 600-resolution LCD screen contains a 1GHz processor.  There are two cameras, a 3MP rear camera and a 1.3MP front camera.  The Galaxy has 16GB of internal storage and supports up to 32GB extra.  It supports Flash Player 10.1.  The Verizon LTE version is basically the same but it got upgraded to a 1.2GHz Hummingbird processor and it’s rear camera has been upgraded to 5MP.  I’ve actually gotten to play with the 3G version of the Galaxy Tab and it’s really nice.  The screen is clear and vibrant.  The size is excellent.  It didn’t feel awkward holding it with one hand like the iPad did, but maybe I just have small hands.  I didn’t play with it too extensively (no playing videos or anything like that), but it was nice Android Tablet.  I just read while writing up this post that Samsung said they will give a peek at their Galaxy Tab line up next month, so there’s more just around the corner.

Motorola Xoom

  • Networks: Verizon 3G (upgradeable to LTE)
  • Operating system: Android 3.0
  • Display: 10.1” 1280 x 800-resolution screen
  • Camera: 5MP Rear Camera w/ dual LED flash, 2MP front facing camera
  • Memory: 32GB on board user memory, SD card support after update, 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • WLAN: 2.4GHz & 5GHz 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR + HID
  • GPS: ??
  • Battery: ??
  • Special features: Micro USB 2.0, 1080p HD support, 720p video capture, HDMI, gyroscope, barometer, e-compass, accelerometer, adaptive lighting, Flash 10.1 support
  • Chipset: NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor
  • Available: 3G/Wi-Fi-enabled device in Q1 2011, upgradeable to LTE in Q2 2011  Update: Rumor is it will be available on February 17th for $700 (source)

The Motorola Xoom will start as a Verizon 3G tablet in the first quarter of 2011 and then it will be upgradeable to LTE in the second quarter of 2011.  It sounds like you’ll have to make a trip to a Verizon store in order to upgrade from 3G to LTE, but being upgradeable definitely adds to the Xoom’s appeal.  It boasts a battery capable of supporting 10 hours of video play back, it has 720p recording and can play 1080p videos and output them via HDMI.  The front facing camera is a full 2MP, which would be excellent for video chats.  Plus 32GB of onboard memory is a healthy amount of storage.  Motorola claims it will deliver console-like gaming, but that’s something I’ll have to see for myself before I believe it.  I hadn’t heard anything about the Xoom prior to CES, but right now it’s top on my most wanted list.

Acer Iconia Tab A500

  • Networks: Verizon LTE
  • Operating system: Android 3.0 + Acer UI 4.5
  • Display: 10.1” 10-point-multi-touch screen
  • Camera: ??
  • Memory: ??
  • WLAN: ??
  • Bluetooth: ??
  • GPS: ??
  • Battery: ??
  • Special features: HDMI, 1080p output, Flash 10.1 support, gyro meter, HD arcade game & complex online 3D game support, full-sized USB and micro-USB
  • Chipset: NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor
  • Available: April?

Acer announced the Acer Iconia Tab A500 for Verizon LTE.  The unit on hand at CES was just an engineering prototype, but it apparently felt like a good solid tablet.  The screen was very responsive and tracked 10 points of contact.  Since it was just the engineering prototype and only running Android 2.2 (it will run 3.0 at release), many of the specs and features weren’t available for exploring.  However, the guys at Engadget did get to see a little demo of the Iconia Tab in Multiplayer gaming action over LTE.  Two Iconia Tabs were able to play a multiplayer game of Asphalt 6, a racing game, over LTE and they saw one Iconia Tab connect to an Alienware M11x laptop for a game of Dungeon Defenders.  The gaming looked smooth and the games seemed to keep right in sync between the two players.  Verizon also showed off an experimental version of its FiOS DVR manager app on the Iconia over LTE.  Apparently this was a little choppy and took some time to buffer, but it did result in CNN streaming right to the pad.  I wish there would have been more specs released for this tablet, but I’m sure they’ll be released in the coming months.

RIM Blackberry Playbook

  • Networks: WiFi Only & Sprint WiMAX
  • Operating system: QNX
  • Display: 7” 1024×600 display
  • Camera: 5MP rear camera
  • Memory: ??
  • WLAN: ??
  • Bluetooth: ??
  • GPS: ??
  • Battery: ??
  • Special features: 1080p playback, mini-HDMI, micro-USB, Bluetooth tethering with a Blackberry smartphone, Flash 10.1 support
  • Chipset: Dual-core 1GHz processor
  • Available: Q1 2011 (Sprint WiMAX Summer)

Research in Motion (RIM) makes their first foray into the tablet world with the Blackberry Playbook.  The Playbook is apparently blazing fast as well as being a responsive and polished tablet, which is a good sign for RIM since their phones just don’t seem to be quite keeping up with the rest of the smartphone world.  Despite also being a 7” tablet, the Playbook is smaller than the 7” Galaxy Tab.  The screen has bright colors and excellent viewing angles.  The 1024×600 resolution generates 170 pixels per inch which is the same as the Galaxy Tab and better than the iPad.  The Playbook is running an OS called QNX that RIM bought back in April.  QNX seems to be similar to webOS, but that’s not necessarily bad.  Even running a 1080p video, a realtime game of Quake III, a song in the music player and a photo slideshow, the limit of the tablet was not reached.  The multitasking ability of the OS is customizable allowing you to decide when/if you want apps to be paused.  The Playbook seems like an excellent tablet.  It has the speed, size, comfort and ease of use.  It has almost everything you could want in a tablet.  However, it does not have a native calendar or mail client.  In order to do mail and calendar functions, you’ll need to tether your Blackberry smartphone to your Playbook with their BlackBerry Bridge app suite.  Other than that it’ll be up to RIM to see if they can put together an adequate app store, though supposedly QNX is an easy OS to develop for.  I do have a soft spot for RIM and Blackberrys and if I still had one, I’d definitely consider getting the Playbook.  So I’m curious to see if RIM can pull off a successful tablet launch.  I hope they can.

Dell Streak 7

  • Networks: T-Mobile
  • Operating system: Android 2.2 + Dell Stage 1.0
  • Display: 7” 800×480 resolution
  • Camera: 5MP rear camera w/ Auto Focus & Flash, 1.3MP front camera w/ Fixed Focus
  • Memory: 16GB of internal memory, SD Card slot with support up to 32GB
  • WLAN: 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • GPS: Onboard GPS
  • Battery: 2780 mAh
  • Special features: Flash 10.1 support
  • Chipset: NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor
  • Available: January 2011 UPDATE: Available on T-Mobile starting February 2nd for $200 with a 2-year contract and $450 off contract. (source)

Dell follows up the August release of its Streak smartphone with the Dell Streak 7 tablet (the Dell Streak 10 is on the horizon).  The Streak 7 is basically a larger version of its predecessor minus the earpiece, which is good.  The original Streak was a little too big to be a good phone, but too small to be a useful tablet.  The Streak 7 has the 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor, so once the software is optimized it shouldn’t have a problem with speed.  It’s 7” screen isn’t as bright and vivid as other tablets, but it is protected by Gorilla Glass.  Gorilla Glass is a high-strength protective cover glass that offers exception scratch resistance and durability to devices with touchscreens.  However the Streak 7 is unfortunately only running Android 2.2 with no mention of upgrading to 3.0.  But it will come with Dell’s Stage UI which will allow the user to keep their photos, contacts, calendars and other personal content synchronized across their other Dell Stage-equipped devices connected through their home network.  In my opinion, Dell makes good products.  I think this will be a good, small sized tablet once they get some tweaking done to it and if they’d upgrade to Android 3.0.

Honorable Mention


The Honorable Tablet Mention goes to the whole lineup of ASUS tablets.  They showed off 4 tablets (3 Android and 1 Windows 7) which were rather impressive.  They had excellent hardware and screen quality and each had its own uniqueness that veered ever so slightly away from what is becoming the “traditional” tablet.  I didn’t include them above because I wanted to mention them all but didn’t want to add 4 more full reviews especially not 4 from the same company.  They’re all pictured above and I’ll cover them briefly from left to right.

First up is the Eee Pad Transformer.  It runs Android 3.0, it has a 10.1” screen and a Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor.  This is the most traditional of their tablets.  The uniqueness comes with the optional keyboard dock that turns your tablet into an Android laptop.  The keyboard dock is a keyboard, trackpad and has USB peripheral support.  The dock also contains an extra battery which doubles the runtime of your tablet.  It’s not quite as great as the Motorola Atrix I mentioned in Part 1 of my CES Round-Up because the look of the OS doesn’t change when you dock.  It’s supposedly going to have an April 2011 release.

Second we have the Eee Pad MeMO.  The MeMO is another tablet running Android 3.0.  It has a 7” screen, a dual-core Qualcomm processor.  This is a nice small pad and adds a capacitive stylus for input.  The stylus uses a rubberized tip to for pressure sensitive stylus input.  The bezel below the screen was extended slightly to make room to store the stylus.  The tablet is very thin and it’s screen is bright with good viewing angles.  June 2011 is when this is expected to be released.

Third is the Eee Pad Slider.  It’s yet another Android 3.0 tablet with a 10” screen and the Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor.  The Slide, though, has a slide out keyboard.  The keyboard is a chiclet keyboard, probably similar to a lot of netbooks.  The sliding action wasn’t the greatest, but it was just a prototype.  Plus they claim the tablet’s engineers are already reworking the sliding mechanism, so hopefully the kinks will be worked out before it’s May 2011 release.

And last is the Eee Slate EP121.  The Slate is a Windows 7 tablet with a 12.1” screen.  It has an Intel Core i5 processor, which makes it a rather high powered tablet.  Like the MeMO it also uses a stylus for input.  The method used for reading the stylus input is different than on the MeMO, but it is exceptional.  The Slate also comes bundled with a Bluetooth keyboard.  Despite its size it is still light and thin, but probably better for a desk than to be carried around everywhere. It should be released this month.

That’s All She…Well I Wrote

That wraps up my tablet round-up.  The ASUS Slider, though only an honorary mention, could be stellar tablet but the slider needs to be firmed up more and I’d like to see more specs on it.  If I had to choose, I’d say the Motorola Xoom is definitely my top choice at the moment, but it’s a really difficult choice.  There are a lot of other great tablets, if you’d like to see more check out Engadget’s Tablets at CES 2011.  I am definitely looking forward to hearing more about these and seeing what will be announced next.

And that’s it, that’s all of my CES 2011 Round-Up.  If you want more go check out Engadget’s Best of CES 2011.

Also, the Engadget and Boy Genius Report links I’ve posted at the top of the page will take you to all of their CES 2011 coverage and the CES website has a link to videos of all the Keynotes from this year.  There’s a ton of stuff I haven’t and won’t be mentioning like 3D television, 3D cameras & video cameras, portable Blu-ray players, 3D glasses, glasses free 3D, 3D laptops (lots and lots of 3D), appliances and a million and a half other things, so go wade through the vast amounts of information on your own to find what interests you.

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Responses

  1. […] The Engadget and Boy Genius Report links I’ve posted above will take you to all of their CES 2011 coverage and the CES website has a link to videos of all the Keynotes from this year.  There’s a ton of stuff I haven’t and won’t be mentioning like 3D television, 3D cameras & video cameras, portable Blu-ray players, 3D glasses, glasses free 3D, 3D laptops (lots and lots of 3D), appliances and a million and a half other things, so go wade through the vast amounts of information on your own to find what interests you and stay tuned for my next post: Part 3 […]

  2. […] The Engadget and Boy Genius Report links I’ve posted above will take you to all of their CES 2011 coverage and the CES website has a link to videos of all the Keynotes from this year.  There’s a ton of stuff I haven’t and won’t be mentioning like 3D television, 3D cameras & video cameras, portable Blu-ray players, 3D glasses, glasses free 3D, 3D laptops (lots and lots of 3D), appliances and a million and a half other things, so go wade through the vast amounts of information on your own to find what interests you and stay tuned for my next posts: Part 2 & Part 3 […]

  3. I have to say, I disagree with you on the size thing. One of the main features of a tablet that I like over a smartphone IS the large size. Not only do you get a bigger screen, but with my tiny hands, I can actually type fairly normally on a 10-inch tablet in landscape mode. If I could ever afford one of these (which I can’t) I would have to go large. Of course, this is coming from the tiny girl with the huge Droid X!

    Also, being on a budget and all, I’d have to think carefully about whether I’d just go for a WiFi only one or ditch my smartphone and get a 3G tablet. (Because we won’t see LTE in CVille for some time, I’m sure.) There’s no point in having two monthly data plans!

    • True, maybe that smaller tablet preference is just mine. I believe 10.1″ is about where netbooks are in size, so maybe that’s why I liked the 7″ feel of the Galaxy Tab. I mean I did choose the smaller HTC Incredible over the Droid X.

      So if you had the money and decided to go with a 3G Tablet, would you go back to a Slightly Less Educated Phone for calls?

  4. […] If anyone knows how to consume electronics, it’s this guy! Check out Part 1 and Part 2, and Part 3 (updated […]

  5. if you want to convert DVD movies for Motorola Xoom, just try Handbrake or Free Xoom converter


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