Thanks to the success of the iPad, there's a frenzied rush by computer makers to release new tablets. The recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) turned into a tablet-fest, with over 80 tablet computers announced, released or displayed.
Motorola's Zoom got the most attention and was named best-of-show. It has a 10.1 inch screen (slightly larger than the iPad) and 2 cameras. It uses Google's newest version of the Android operating system, which is optimized for tablets (the older versions targeted smartphones).
A number of companies - including Cisco, Dell and Samsung - announced or released smaller tablets with 7 inch screens. I had a chance to play with several and I liked the form factor. The picture below shows the 7 inch Galaxy Tab from Samsung.
Several analysts are predicting the tablet market is spitting in two, with 7 inch tablets focused on mobility and 10 inch versions focused on immersive media experiences.
Based on our experience with the iPad, this makes sense to us.
Most 2011 tablet sales forecasts are in the 50-60 million range. Apple is expected to continue dominating the category and is forecasted to sell 30-40 million iPads in 2011.
To put this in perspective, the research firm Gartner's PC shipment forecast for 2011 is 352 million. This does not include tablets, which Gartner definitely thinks are cutting into PC sales.
So 2011 is definitely shaping up to be the year of the tablet.
The question is should you buy one? Our view of the iPad hasn't changed since our review last fall. It's great for media consumption, not good for media creation and flawed, but useful, as a mobile computing device. We like it and are glad we have it, but it didn't fully replace any of our existing computers.
Like any new technology, don't get caught up in the hype. Think through your needs and applications and then decide whether or not (and which one) to buy.