While CES was literally flooded with every piece of tech gadget you can imagine (except a time machine) like new cameras, 1 TB SSD and much more, two consumer gadgets definitely poured out like never before: ultrabooks and tablets. Gone are the days when everything has to be labeled an iPad-Killer because 2012 will be an exciting year for tablets with power going up, prices going down and companies getting creative to steal attention away from the horde. Here are the ten best tablets that hit the floor at this year’s show. Also, not on this list but honorable mention goes to Razer’s Project Fiona we covered earlier.
Asus Eee Transformer Prime TF700T
Something has to be done about Asus’ product naming decisions. Much as I dislike the “barely-discernible from its previous model” monicker, this latest in the top-selling Transformer line of tablets keeps the overall platform intact, but upgrades the display to a stunning 1,920 x 1,200 resolution Super IPS panel. The rest of the specs seem to be a mirror of its predecessor: Tegra 3, aGPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, dual cameras (8.0 megapixel in the rear and 2.0 megapixels in front) and up to 64GB of built-in storage. Still no version with an LTE radio though.
Lenovo IdeaTab K2
Easily one of the most powerful tablets to show up on CES, the IdeaTab K2 has the quad-core Tegra 3 under the hood, which pairs with a 10.1-inch 1,920 x 1,200 resolution IPS display for full 1080p video viewing. And the drool-worthy specs don’t end there — it also features an 8.0 megapixel camera in the rear, a four-speaker “surround” system, a mini-HDMI slot, a full-sized USB port and up to 64GB of storage. So far, though, only China has been confirmed for launch. Everyone else will have to wait and see.
Asus EeePad MeMO ME370T
Here’s something that can really disrupt the market: a quad-core Tegra 3 tablet with a $250 price tag. That’s exactly what Asus is promising with the EeePad MeMO, a 7-inch slate promised in the first half of 2012. Other announced details include a 7-inch IPS display (1,280 x 800 resolution), an 8.0 megapixel camera, WiFi, a front-facing low-res shooter and Ice Cream Sandwich running inside. While far from the sleekest-looking of the bunch, the price-to-power ratio and the high-res optics should prove enough to give anyone pause — which makes one wonder what kinds of corners will be cut to hit that price point.
Toshiba Excite X10
At 0.3 inches thick and 1.2 lbs heavy, the Excite X10 is the slimmest and lightest tablet in the market today — a huge departure from Toshiba’s tablet effort from last year (which was one of the bulkiest and heaviest). Despite that, it doesn’t skimp on the goodies. You get a dual-core 1.2GHz OMAP processor, 1GB of RAM, a 10-inch IPS display (1280 x 800 resolution) and a full set of ports (microSD, microUSB, microHDMI). Like many tablets coming out in the first quarter, it runs Honeycomb with an Ice Cream Sandwich update on the pipe. Release is slated at the end of January.
Galaxy Tab 7.7
Truth be told, the 7-inch form factor is my ideal tablet size. Always has been since the original Galaxy Tab rolled up. This new 7-incher from Samsung boasts a gorgeous Super AMOLED Plus display (1280 x 800 resolution) that’s arguably one of the best to show up on a slate at CES. It’s well-endowed on the hardware end, too, packing a 1.4GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, dual cameras (3.0 megapixels in the rear and 2.0 megapixels in front), LTE connectivity, WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0 and smartphone functionality. It hits stores in the first quarter, but only with Honeycomb on board.
Sony Tablet P
Sony has always been willing to experiment with their form factors, especially when it comes to promoting portability. We loved the Vaio P when it came out and Sony appears to have taken a similar path with their Tablet P. Instead of a single touchscreen panel, the device features two 5.5-inch screens (1,024 x 480 resolution), which fold into each other clamshell-style during transport. The rest of the features include a dual-core CPU (no specified clock speed), 512MB of RAM, a 5.0 megapixel camera in the rear, a VGA webcam in front, WiFi, 3G, 4G and Bluetooth 2.1. It runs Honeycomb, along with a custom UI built around Sony’s various content channels. Price is a little discouraging, though, at $599.
Fujitsu Arrows Tab
Sometimes, you just want to take a warm bath while sipping some wine and playing World of Goo. Unfortunately, going that route puts your tablet at more risks than you’re willing to take. Unless, of course, you have a Fujitsu Arrows Tab. A waterproof Android tablet, all corners and edges of the device are covered in a rubbery watertight material, allowing it to survive complete immersion up to 5 feet deep for as long as 30 minutes. Other details include a 10.1-inch display (1,280 x 800 resolution), a dual-core 1GHz TI OMAP processor, a 5.1 megapixel camera in the rear, a 1.0 megapixel camera out front and 16GB of built-in storage. For now, it’s only guaranteed for release in Japan, although reports are claiming it will come stateside for under $400 later in the year. Below are couple of photos we took of Fujitsu Arrows Tab submerged in water.
Last year, smartphones got cheap. This year, its tablets’ turn. While still over a hundred bucks more expensive than the Kindle Fire, this 10-incher brings a very good HD display and Tegra 2 for an attractive price of $329.99. Other details include a 2.0 megapixel front-facing camera, WiFi, DLNA, 8GB of onboard storage, a full-sized USB port, and a battery rated at 8 hours of runtime. It runs Honeycomb, with an Ice Cream Sandwich update slated to roll out soon. Available now.
Lenovo Ideapad S2-10
Lenovo’s other 10-incher features a Thinkpad-style full-sized keyboard dock with a backup battery (extending total juice to 18 hours), similar to Asus’ Transformer series. The docking mechanism looks like gaming cartridge slots of old, swallowing one edge of the tablet. Details of the Ideapad S2-10 include a 10.1-inch IPS display (1280 x 800 resolution), a dual-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a 5.0 megapixel camera in the rear, a low-rest front-facing video cam, mini-HDMI, mini-USB and up to 64GB of storage. It rolls out end of the first quarter with Ice Cream Sandwich onboard.
Designed for tablet-envying professionals who can’t quite live without Windows at their beck and call, the ViewSonic 10pi s a dual-booting two-timer, capable of running Android 2.3 or Windows 7. Specs include an Intel Oak Trail z670 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 64GB SSD, a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 IPS display,Wi-Fi, a 3.0 megapixel camer in the rear, a 1.3 megapixel webcam out front, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, an optional 3G radio and microSD card expansion. The two OSes won’t run concurrently, so you’ll have to reboot every time you want to switch. No word on battery life, but I imagine it won’t be pretty.