Until the arrival of Honeycomb, most tablets were playing catch-up with Apple's all conquering iPad and it's smartphone OSs. Now, in its second generation, the iPad 2 is likely to face some serious competition from the likes of Motorola, Acer, Samsung, HTC, Dell and other manufacturers who are embracing Google's tablet specific Honeycomb OS.
One such might be the Acer ICONIA A500, the first Honeycomb tablet to hit India. Can it take a bite out of the big Apple?
The 10-inch A500 seems extremely thick at 13.3 mm versus the sub-10mm frame of the iPad 2. It is interesting to note that the original iPad was 13.4 mm thick. So the competition is still trying to emulate the original iPad even the next version has set new benchmarks for sheer form factor.
Quite naturally, when compared to the iPad 2, the device is bulky and feels heavy. It is quite a challenge to use while reading books. You will also find yourself setting the device down very often, because..
If I've seen you taking photos with a tablet computer, I've probably made fun of you (though maybe not to your face, depending on how big you are). I'm old school: I much prefer looking through the viewfinder of my full-bodied, single-lens reflex camera, even though it has a large LCD screen.
But as I tested out Apple's new iPad Air 2, I see why people like to shoot pictures with a tablet. Images look great on the large screen, and there's less guesswork about whether or not small details, such as lettering on a sign, will be in focus.
And what you see – and get – with the iPad Air 2 is a better camera. The rear one now matches the iPhone's 8 megapixels, up from 5 megapixels, and incorporates features such as slow-motion video. Packed with a faster processor, the 9.7-inch tablet is also 18 percent thinner and 7 percent lighter than the previous model, at about a quarter of an inch and just under a pound.
Apple is also updating its 7.9-inch iPad mini, thoug..
Microsoft seems to have gotten the design and form factor right with its new Surface tablet computer. But the user interface, not so much. That's an odd conclusion to make about a device from a software company that usually lets others do the manufacturing.
Still, that's how I felt after feeling the heft of the device, examining it from all sides and making a few swipes at the screen. The Surface has a touch keyboard cover that feels great and, to me, is a big step forward for tablets. The tablet's software interface, however, seems non-intuitive and sluggish.
Microsoft is clearly straddling the uncomfortable divide between the old world of mice and keyboards, where it dominates, and a future ruled by touch screens, where Apple and Android devices prevail.
Although the Surface won't go on sale until this fall, I had the chance to spend a few minutes with some devices in a group demonstration after Microsoft unveiled them in Los Angeles on Monday.
The removable cover..
The tablet computers that compete with the iPad have mostly been uninspiring. The Eee Pad Transformer stands out with a design that isn't just copied from the iPad: It's a tablet that turns into a laptop.
For $399, $100 less than the cheapest iPad, you get a tablet computer with a 10-inch screen and hardware that doesn't cut corners. It's fully usable on its own. For another $149, you can buy a keyboard that connects to the tablet. Together, they look and open like a small laptop.
The Transformer is made by Asustek Computer Inc., the Taiwanese company that started the brief “netbook” craze a few years ago by selling small, inexpensive laptops. With the keyboard attached, the Transformer is nearly indistinguishable from a netbook.
But before you get too excited about the prospect of a laptop-tablet hybrid that combines the best of both worlds, I have to tell you that you're not getting a Windows laptop in the bargain. The Transformer runs Google Inc.'s Andr..
On the heels of Apple's new, lighter iPad, Amazon has come out with a full-size tablet that weighs even less yet sports a sharper display and a lower price tag. Although Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 hasn't received as much attention as the iPad Air, it is emerging as the strongest challenger yet to Apple's device.
The new Kindle shares many of the features found in a smaller version that came out Oct. 18.
A row of tabs at the top of the screen gives you quick access to Amazon services such as e-books, music, video and shopping. Recently used apps and content appear in the middle so you can return to them quickly. The bottom row has icons for frequently used apps such as email and the camera.
Need help? Just hit the “Mayday” button. You'll be connected within seconds to a live customer-service representative, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You see the representatives in a video box, but they can only hear you and see what's on your screen. They can also..
On Friday, the new iPad goes on sale. Be sure to ask for it by name: the iPad.
Because if you ask for the iPad 3, the Apple representatives will look at you funny. Last year's model was called the iPad 2, but this third-generation model is just called the iPad. (Why not continue the numbering pattern? “That would have been too predictable,” says Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president for marketing.)
Really, the new iPad should have been called the iPad 2S. In the past, Apple added the letter S to iPhone models that weren't exactly new but had been tastefully enhanced (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S). That's exactly what's going on with the new iPad. Its technical improvements keep it at the forefront of desirability – just ahead of the snapping jaws of its Android competition – but don't take it in any new directions.
The biggest new feature is what Apple calls the Retina display: like the one on the iPhone 4S, it's a very, very sharp screen. It's f..
The first iPad was a revolutionary product. There were naysayers galore, nobody was even sure it would work – neither a laptop nor a netbook, and there was no keyboard. Xxx years later, the iPad has sent the competition scrambling to produce tablets of their own.
So is there a tablet better than the iPad? Yes there is. The iPad 2.
These are interesting circumstances for a new version of the device. It's only competition is the first version of itself, which was so pathbreaking a device that it's a very tough act to follow.
With iPad 2, Apple has done what it does best with follow-up acts – they've kept it simple. Users complained that version 1 was too heavy for prolonged use, and carped about the lack of cameras. Version 2 is 30 per cent slimmer, 15 per cent lighter, and has two cameras. Under the hood, there is a new dual-core A5 chip, to make iPad 2 run a bit faster. As a bonus, there is a nifty smart cover. Lets take an in-depth look.
The iPad ..
While the market is flooded with 7-inch tablets, there's still some space for good quality 10-inchers. The Zync Quad 9.7 tablet promises to bring a high resolution 'Retina' display to the Android world at an unbelievable price. But does it deliver on performance and usability? We try to find out.
From the front, the Zync Quad 9.7 looks roughly similar to the Apple iPad except that there's no hardware button. The front features a 9.7-inch screen surrounded by a black bezel. Interestingly, the iPad also features a 9.7-inch screen. The placement of the front facing camera is a little unconventional – it's located at the top right corner (looking at the tablet in landscape mode).
The tablet has rounded corners and there's a white plastic frame between the front and the back of the tablet. The back of the tablet has a brushed aluminium finish and while we're not sure of the material that it's made of, it does exude a feeling of durabilit..