Tablets Flying Fast and Furious at CES
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show figured to be the year of the tablet, and so far it hasn’t disappointed on that front.
On Wednesday, Motorola formally announced its Android 3.0-based Xoom tablet, while LG announced plans for the T-Mobile G-Slate, which will also run the Honeycomb version of Google’s Android operating system. Samsung, meanwhile, said it plans to add a Wi-Fi-only model to its Galaxy Tab model. The device will use version 2.2 of Android and hit the market in the first quarter, though the company did not announce a price or exact timing.
The Motorola Xoom packs a 16-by-10 aspect ratio, a dual-core processor, 1080p playback and Flash support, and will run on Verizon’s network. Initially, the tablet will run on Verizon’s 3G network, but Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha said the Xoom that goes on sale in the first quarter of this year will be upgradeable to 4G by the end of the second quarter.
“The software is not completely done,” Jha said, adding that the hardware isn’t either.
Google Android boss Andy Rubin had briefly showed a prototype Motorola tablet at last month’s D: Dive Into Mobile conference and said that Honeycomb was being designed expressly with tablets in mind.
The Xoom, Wi-Fi Samsung Tab and G-Slate are in addition to the Toshiba, Asus and Vizio tablets announced earlier in the week.
Nearly all of these tablets are running some flavor of Android, though a handful of Windows 7 tablets are also being shown in Las Vegas.
However, the scene in Vegas offers a somewhat skewed view of the tablet market. Outside Sin City, the iPad is still the dominant player, while a number of tablet competitors expected soon have opted not to launch here. HP is having an event next month to focus on future webOS devices, while Research In Motion has said it will launch its PlayBook before the end of March.
Motorola also used some of its afternoon event to show off the Motorola Atrix 4G, a smartphone introduced at an AT&T event earlier in the day. It packs a fingerprint reader, a dual-core 1GHz processor, and the ability to dock to an 11-inch screen and keyboard to act as a mini-laptop, with eight hours of battery life.
When docked, the phone can power a full desktop version of Mozilla, including full Flash support, allowing for a PC-like experience all powered by the smartphone. AT&T Senior Vice President Jeff Bradley said it is too soon to say how much the device will cost, but promised the price will be competitive. Although AT&T has the U.S. exclusive on the Atrix, Motorola said it will be offered through Bell Canada and Orange UK.
In addition to the Atrix and Tablet, Motorola announced its first phone to run on faster LTE networks–the dual-core Droid Bionic, which is slated to arrive early in the second quarter on Verizon Wireless. Motorola also introduced the Cliq 2, an update to Motorola’s first Motoblur phone for T-Mobile.
Update 5:45 pm PT: As for timing, I confirmed that the Motorola Xoom is indeed the “lead device” for Honeycomb and will be the first on the market when it ships later this quarter. The LG model is slated to ship “in the coming months,” and other Honeycomb tablets will follow.
Google isn’t sharing a lot of new details on Honeycomb, but Rubin did make a short blog post and upload this YouTube video, which touts Google Talk video chatting, a specially designed YouTube App and access to Google Books.
“Many of Android’s existing features will really shine on Honeycomb: refined multi-tasking, elegant notifications, access to over 100,000 apps on Android Market, home screen customization with a new 3D experience and redesigned widgets that are richer and more interactive,” Rubin said in the blog post. “We’ve also made some powerful upgrades to the web browser, including tabbed browsing, form auto-fill, syncing with your Google Chrome bookmarks, and incognito mode for private browsing.”