So what exactly is a slate?
For some, a slate is a lighter, slimmed down tablet without a dedicated physical keyboard and other extra components (as opposed to, say, a convertible tablet which looks very much like a laptop when the folding keyboard is out). For others, it's less computer and more portable media player, like the Archos 9 or even the Apple iPad.
CONSUMER & ENTERTAINMENT TABLETS
Unlike industrial tablets, consumer and entertainment slates typically aren't full-fledged computers with a traditional PC-style operating system. Instead, they use a more simplified, easy-to-use OS such as Apple's iOS, Google's Android or Palm's webOS. Advantages include instant-on, ease of use and speedy operation. Besides Web browsing, consumer and entertainment slates are primarily used for multimedia applications such as listening to music, watching videos, reading eBooks and playing games.
Many scoffed at Apple when it described its new slate tablet as a "magical" and "revolutionary" device. But for non-power users and folks who simply want an easy-to-use multimedia slate, the iPad has been a game changer. With millions sold since launching in early 2010, Apple's iPad has revitalized the sluggish tablet market. Now Apple has also released the latest version, the iPad 2. Make sure to check our iPad Central hub for all sorts of info on the device, including reviews, news, apps, accessories and tutorials.
Research In Motion redeems itself from the lackluster reception to its BlackBerry OS 6 smartphone operating system by creating a custom user interface for tablets that's earning positive responses for the PlayBook. Specs include a 7-inch, 1024 x 600 capacitive touchscreen with multi-touch and gesture support, 1GB of RAM, and a 1GHz dual-core processor. The PlayBook also comes with dual high-def cameras, HDMI and microHDMI output, Flash compatibility, and video recording and playback up to 1080p. Now about those underpowered phones RIM...
Coby joins the tablet fray with its own take on a touchy-feely Android device. The Kyros sports a 7-inch resistive touchscreen, Android 2.1 and HDMI video output up to 1080p. But in typical Coby fashion, the key feature of the Kyros is price, which clocks in at a budget-friendly $250. Check out our Coby Kyros MID7015 preview for specs and more details.
The Streak is a 5-inch Android tablet designed primarily as a portable media player and Internet device. But besides enjoying media, navigating and social networking, the device also allows you to make phone calls. The device retails for $299.99 with a two-year contract from AT&T. Unlocked, the price shoots up to $549.99, which now puts it in iPad territory. The Streak is best suited for folks who want larger real estate to view their media but still want to retain smartphone capabilities. Dell has also announced a 7-inch and 10-inch version of its Streak line.
A Windows 7 tablet with potential, the ExoPC Slate features an 11.6 capacitive multi-touch screen, 2GB of ram, a choice between 32GB or 64GB of internal memory, plus Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Other features include a webcam, accelerometer, light sensor and card reader. Pricing is expected to be $649 and $749 (Canadian, or about $624 and $720 U.S.) for the 32GB and 64GB models respectively.
As the first full-fledged, webOS-powered direct iPad rival, the TouchPad heralds HP and Palm's partnership in the consumer tablet space. Specs include a 9.7-inch touchscreen with a 1024-by-768 resolution display. The TouchPad also ups the ante by throwing in a dual-CPU 1.2GHz processor, along with Adobe Flash support and a front-facing camera.
Looks like the partnership between T-Mobile and LG is feelin' so fly like a G-Slate. Ba-da-bump. Yes, yes, I ain't quitting my day job. A dual-core processor melded with Google's Honeycomb tablet OS automatically makes this one of the tablets to watch for after its 2011 spring release. Throw in the a 3D-capable display and the ability to record both HD and 3D videos and it's no surprise why the G-Slate is getting plenty of buzz.
As the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet, the Xoom is getting a lot of buzz — pun definitely intended. Specs include a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 resolution HD widescreen display, a speedy 1GHz Tegra 2 dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM. The device comes with both front- and rear-facing cameras, along with the ability to record 720p video. Users can also output 1080p video to their TVs via an HDMI connector. Battery life is rated at up to 10 hours for video. Besides Flash compatibility, the Xoom features Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. Verizon gets first dibs via a first quarter 2011 launch. The device can also be upgraded to 4G LTE sometime in the second quarter of this year.
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This 10-incher first appeared at the 2010 CES and is getting positive marks for build quality and a nice PixelQi display that works well even in direct sunlight. The Eden UI custom interface on top of Android is also shaping up nicely. Specs are also positively nerd-worthy, featuring a dual-core Tegra 2 processor, 1GB RAM, a 3.2-megapixel camera that swivels to the front and back, plus a host of ports for HDMI, USB, Mini-USB, MicroSD and even a SIM card slot.