Remember When? The Old-School Tablet Roundup

A Look Back at the Dawn of the Tablet Age

Back in 2010, I wrote this roundup of new and up-and-coming slates to watch out for in the burgeoning consumer tablet sector based on devices shown in CES 2010. Heck, I even had to define what the gadgets were because not a lot of people were aware of what a "slate" was:

"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."

These days, everyone knows what a tablet is. Looking back, this list now kind of seems quaint. Still, it's a good historical accounting of the dawn of the consumer tablet age for gadget geeks. In the meantime, folks looking for a newer list outside of Apple's popular iPad can check out our list of the 7 Best Android Tablets in the market today.  For tips on choosing a tablet, you also can see our Tablet Buying Guide.

1
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.

2
Apple iPad

Apple iPad Wi-Fi. Photo © Apple

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.

3
BlackBerry PlayBook

Photo © RIM.

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...

4
Coby Kyros MID7015

Photo © Coby

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.

5
Dell Streak

Photo © Dell.

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.

6
ExoPC Slate

ExoPC Slate. Image © ExoPC

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.

7
HP TouchPad

Image © HP

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.

8
LG G-Slate

Image © T-Mobile

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.

9
Motorola Xoom

Motorola Xoom. Photo © Motorola

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.

10
Notion Ink Adam

Image © Notion Ink

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.

11
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Image © Samsung

Samsung enters the Honeycomb fray with a bigger tablet than its original Galaxy Tab. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 sports a, well, 10.1-inch screen and a 1GHz dual-core processor. It's also classified as a full-fledged "Google Experience" device, which means stock Android 3.0 and faster OS updates.

12
Samsung Galaxy Tab

With an Android OS plus 3G and Wi-Fi capability, Samsung's Galaxy Tab slate tablet obviously has its sights set on Apple's iPad. Add Flash, a MicroSD card slot, and a front-facing camera to the mix and Samsung's entry into the consumer tablet arena is shaping up to be one of the more worthy competitors to the iPad. For details, check our Samsung Galaxy Tab review. Samsung also announced a Wi-F-only version for 2011.

13
TRADITIONAL WORK TABLETS

The "traditional tablet" is basically a slimmed down personal computer that's designed for industrial applications. You can certainly employ the devices for personal use and entertainment. But by and large, these devices are targeted for industrial, medical, restaurant and field work.

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AIS Outdoor Rugged Tablet PC

AIS Outdoor Rugged Tablet PC. Photo © AIS

The AIS Outdoor Rugged Tablet PC is just that — a sturdy slate tablet designed to withstand the elements for folks working out in the field.

Rugged tablets are actually an established subset of the tablet sector. Besides meeting all sorts of military and industrial certifications, the AIS Rugged Tablet features a 4-wire resistive 10.4-inch touch panel, water and dust protection, anti-vibration, battery hot-swapping and a fanless processor.

Serving as its brain is an Intel Atom Z510/530 processor running Windows XP. Wireless features include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GSM and GPS.

15
Electrovaya Scribbler 4000 Tablet PC

Electrovaya Scribbler 4000. Photo © Electrovaya

The Scribbler 4000 sports an Intel Core 2 Duo ULV processor that runs Windows Vista Business. Memory choices are either 1GB or 2GB SDRAM with storage options running from 60GB SMART SATA all the way up to 160GB.

Besides a detachable keyboard, other features for the Scribbler 4000 include a Wacom digitizer, Bluetooth, 1.3-megapixel camera, and both voice and fingerprint recognition. The 12.1-inch touchscreen also has a 180-degree viewing angle.

16
Fujitsu Stylistic ST6012

Fujitsu Stylistic ST6012. Photo © Fujitsu

The Fujitsu Stylistic ST6012 is another slate tablet with a full Windows operating system. It houses an Intel Core 2 Duo ULV processor that runs Windows Vista Business. The screen is a 12.1-inch Wide XGA TFT indoor/outdoor display with viewing angles greater than 160 degrees.

Hard drive capacity ranges from 80GB to 250GB Serial ATA. Other features include a 1.3-megapixel camera, biometric fingerprint sensor, Wi-Fi and a shared slot for an SD card and Memory Stick Pro.

Manufacturer's site

17
Panasonic Toughbooks

Panasonic Toughbook H1. Photo © Panasonic

Panasonic offers two versions of its rugged Toughbook slate tablet line.

The first is the Toughbook H1, which sports a 10.4-inch dualscreen, hot-swappable twin batteries, 80GB shock-mounted hard drive and a sealed fanless design. It runs Windows Vista Business and includes an XP Tablet downgrade option. It can also withstand a 3-foot drop.

The Toughbook U1 trades in the H1's bigger screen with a 5.6-inch sunlight-viewable LED touchscreen and backlit mini QWERTY keyboard on its bottom face. It also uses a solid state drive and can survive a 6-foot drop.

Manufacturer's site

18
Tablet Kiosk Sahara Slate PC's

Sahara Slate PC i400 Series. Photo © Sahara

Tablet Kiosk serves up three different configurations for its 12.1-inch Sahara slate tablet PC.

The Sahara i412T slate tablet features an Intel Celeron processor, 1GB of DDR2 memory, 120GB SATA hard drive, passive resistive touchscreen and biometric fingerprint reader.

The i440T slate tablet ups the ante with an Intel Core Duo LV L7400 processor, Intel Centrino Duo Mobile Technology, 2GB DDR memory, 160GB SATA hard drive and sunlight-readable display.

At the top of the Sahara food chain is the i440D, which sports 3GB DDR memory and throws in a dual mode active digitizer and touchscreen.

19
UPCOMING SLATE TABLETS

Asus Eee Pad.

Slate tablet aficionados can also take a sneak peak at upcoming consumer-friendly tablets such as the Asus Eee Pad and ExoPC Slate by going to our New Slate and Tablet Preview page.