CES 2012: The Future of Tablets Revealed in Vegas

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At CES 2011, tablets dominated the show floor, particularly Android tablets, bolstered by Android Honeycomb, Google’s dedicated tablet operating system. It seemed virtually every mobile and laptop maker had a tablet in the works, all gunning to claim the elusive title of iPad killer. Consumers had different ideas in 2011 however, and despite their best efforts, no company came close to equaling Apple’s majority market share.

CESNext week in Vegas, battle-weary Android tablet makers (at least those still in the game) enter CES 2012 with a new glint of hope in the form of low-cost Android tablets, similar to the Kindle Fire and NOOK Tablet, which have attracted consumer attention. On the high end, they also have a new and improved operating system to play with in the form of Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0, as well as quad-core processors and high resolution screens.

There is too the new specter of Microsoft Windows 8, which looms large over the tablet market and is expected to have a significant presence at CES 2012 with both Microsoft and its hardware partners. 

But just what will we see in Vegas of Microsoft’s last great hope for tablets? And will Android tablets generate the same buzz in 2012 as they did in 2011? We can’t say for sure until next week, but here’s what the team at TabletPCReview thinks.

Android Tablets
Samsung Galaxy NoteJust as the sun rises in the east, there will be Android tablets at CES 2012, though not as many as we saw in 2011, and many will be devices already announced at other shows. We expect Samsung will show off the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, which is already available overseas. The stylus-sporting Android tablet/smartphone is likely AT&T bound, but rumors also suggest it could be coming to Sprint. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and its crisp Super AMOLED display in Vegas, though maybe with Ice Cream Sandwich onboard instead of the Honeycomb OS it ran when it was first revealed last September at IFA.

Despite a complete dearth of rumors regarding any new Samsung tablets, the Galaxy maker could show off a new model, complete with NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor and high-resolution display. Samsung has pushed Android tablets further and faster than any other manufacturer, so if anyone will have a state of the art quad-core tablet at CES, it will be Samsung.

The Toshiba AT200, or Toshiba Excite, will also be on display, at least according to Toshiba Japan. Dubbed the “world’s thinnest tablet,” it is probably the same tablet also announced at IFA.

Though Dell has bowed out of the Android game, Lenovo, ASUS, and Acer officially have not. Rumors suggest all four will unveil new Android tablets, with perhaps a quad-core model coming from Acer, which has already confirmed a low-cost dual-core Android tablet, the A200. ASUS almost stole the show last year with its four Eee Pad tablets. This year it may again with the glasses-free 3D MeMO first announced at Computex, as well as the Padfone and a few additions to its Eee Pad Transformer line. TabletPCReview is also interested to speak with ASUS regarding its experiences with the Transformer Prime, the first quad-core tablet, which has seen a few performance issues since launching in December.

Windows Tablets
Windows 8Get ready to read the words “Windows 8 Ready” in a lot of press materials, as Dell, HP, Samsung, and the others will all look to hype their 2012 Windows 8 products. Though the operating system probably won’t launch until Q3 or Q4 of the year, the major tablet makers will look to a head start on the market by rolling out the latest and greatest Windows tablet PC hardware. All will probably be running Windows 7, though should be thinner and lighter than last year’s offerings. We suspect most will feature second-gen Intel Core chips like the impressive Samsung Series 7 Slate PC that doubles as a Windows 8 reference device, and maybe a more mobile Intel Atom model or two. We would love to see some of the first ARM-based tablet PCs running a pre-build of Windows 8, and there is a possibility we will in Vegas, though it will probably be behind glass, far from our grasp.

Conspicuous in their absence will be the carriers which, with the possible exception of AT&T, don’t have many events planned for CES outside of cocktail parties and meet and greets. Also absent are any rumors regarding future tablets from Motorola, HTC and LG.

Motorola just released the Droid Xyboards, but HTC is due for a new Android tablet following the Flyer/EVO View and Jetstream, and the same goes for LG. At CES 2011, LG announced that it would be announcing a tablet, the LG G-Slate, and we haven’t heard a peep about LG tablets since. We suspect those companies are holding out for Mobile World Congress at the end of February, where they won’t be competing for attention with the other tech markets. The same goes for the American carriers, though they may not wait for MWC as it is an international show. Verizon pulled a stunt last year and announced the Verizon iPhone shortly after CES 2011, stealing some spotlight in the process.

Coverage Begins Sunday
We will be in Vegas Sunday and ready for CES media day on Monday, where all the big announcements and unveilings occur. Keep checking in on TabletPCReview for the latest news, analysis, and hands-on reports of the next generation of tablet technology as it happens.




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