The form factor of our computing devices has changed over the last year with the introduction of the Apple iPad, and this revolution was clearly evident at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week in Las Vegas. In this second of three posts on CES 2011, we review some of the products you’ll see on the shelves of a retailer near you later this year.
The biggest trend for 2011 is the appearance of competitors to the Apple iPad tablet computer. While most of the devices shown were running the latest version of Google’s Android cell phone operating system (v. 2.2, aka FroYo) on devices with a single-core processor, devices slated for release in the second and third quarter of 2011 will feature dual-core processors and Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), which has been optimized for use on tablet computers. Microsoft mentioned running Windows 7-based tablets and slates in Steve Ballmer’s show-opening keynote. Ballmer also announced that Windows 8 will include a special version which compiled to run on the ARM processor line, which is used in many consumer electronic devices such as cell phones. Although this will require publishers to recompile their applications to run on this new platform, this may keep Microsoft alive in this new category of devices until they come out with a more substantive strategy.
Samsung created a lot of excitement in the tablet space with the fall 2010 release of the Galaxy Tab, a 7” tablet running Android 2.2 which was sold through most cellular carriers during the 2010 holiday season (along with a wireless data plan and two year contract). A Wi-fi only version of the device was announced at CES, and should be available in the first quarter of 2011. Specs on this device are as follows:
The Galaxy Tab runs on Android™ 2.2 (Froyo) and features a 7-inch TFT display with 1024 x 600 WSVGA resolution. The lightweight and sleek device weighs only 13 ounces, is 12 millimeters thin and easily fits in a jacket pocket or purse. The Galaxy Tab includes 16GB of internal storage and has microSD expansion for up to 32 GB of additional storage. The Tab also supports Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1 to deliver an enhanced content experience with access to thousands of Web sites packed with complex Flash-based applications and content. The Galaxy Tab’s Flash content support includes games, animations, rich Internet applications (RIAs), data presentations and visualizations, ecommerce, video, music and more. The Galaxy Tab is also designed with a rear-facing 3 megapixel camera for taking pictures on-the-go, as well as a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera and camcorder for video chat. 
Figure 1 – The Samsung Galaxy Tab is an early leader in the emerging Android tablet category (Source: Samsung).
Figure 2 – Most of the new tablets interface with home entertainment devices, as shown on this Samsung Galaxy Tab connected to an LED flat panel television.
Most tablets included significant enhancements to allow for interoperability with home entertainment systems. These features include media sharing, wi-fi, docking stations, micro-HDMI connections, applications which transform the tablets into remote control devices using wi-fi and many more.
While the biggest news of CES 2011 was the entry of numerous iPad competitors into the marketplace, there were some other notable trends, including the demise of the netbook in its current form factor. Although the $300 “netbook” with a 10” display, a 1.3 MP camera, and an Intel Atom processor running Windows XP Home was exciting at CES 2010, this bargain device has been eclipsed by siren call of the tablet. Major netbook manufacturers such as ASUS have introduced a new spin to the netbook – a “convertible” PC with a removable tablet, or a “slider”, which can take conceal its keyboard behind the screen for use as a slate. Most of these devices have screens which are 10”-12” diagonally, built-in webcams, a keyboard, and run either the Android or Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system.
While the Android operating system does not have as extensive of an ecosystem of business productivity applications as Microsoft Windows, concerns about battery life and processing speed have driven many manufacturers in this category to look into using Google’s open source Android operating system instead of Windows. Although business customers will demand Windows-based hardware, it is unclear which operating system consumers will choose for their gear.
Figure 3 – Sliders, which can be used like a traditional laptop or like a tablet were present from Samsung (L), Dell(R), and many other manufacturers.
Figure 4 – The ASUS T101MT convertible tablet configured as a notebook (L) and a slate (R).
ASUS indicated that its Slider and Convertible tablets will be available in the second quarter, and will be priced from $299 to $699 (with netbook-style processors) and slightly more than comparable laptops for Core i5/Core i7 based processors.
We will wrap up our series on CES next week with a discussion of the emerging home entertainment ecosystems and how the convergence of the home theater and the home network may affect you in the future.
 Source: Samsung Press Release dated 1/5/2011, “SAMSUNG Mobile Announces Upcoming Availability Of WiFi-Only SAMSUNG Galaxy Tab™”