The big tablet launches (one down, two to go)

My week started out with having dinner with a VP from HP, who told me that I should show up at an event on February 9th so I could see their Tablet.

This is a category that Apple rejuvenated with the iPad and, of course, we’re all waiting for the iPad 2 launch. There are rumors on the CES floor that Apple will delay the iPad a bit due to shortage of memory, but I don’t believe it. If Apple delays too long it’ll hand a major gift to the folks who are ready to pounce.

And ready to pounce they are. Motorola, two days ago here at CES, announced the Xoom tablet. I got a look at it with my friend Sascha Pallenberg (who knows EVERYTHING happening in the mobile and netbook spaces and writes about such on NetbookNews.com), and while the hardware is ready to go they weren’t able to show it with Google’s “Honeycomb” Android OS, although they said it is the first tablet designed for it.

Samsung's new convertible tablet

In addition to Motorola, there were a ton of similar tablets announced this week at CES. Lenovo, LG, Asus, and many others. But the journalists I talked to last night at a private dinner said the Motorola is the best of the series that they’ve seen. So, let’s count that as the first of the big tablet launches that are coming between now and February 9th.

Apple is the other one. Of course that’s probably the one I’m going to buy. Rumors are that it’ll be a lot like the Motorola one, with a higher resolution screen, two cameras, better speed, and all that. We’ll see, but the real question is the price and what Apple is going to do to provide some more software magic.

Palm/HP? Folks who’ve seen it say it’s very good. The WebOS is definitely interesting and they could have some real tricks up their sleeves to disrupt Apple (much of the Palm/HP team came from Apple and they love smacking Steve Jobs upside the head with some new ideas). Look at the superior Facebook integration with the WebOS, for instance, for some hints as to what could come.

Notice that I didn’t talk about RIM or Microsoft. I just don’t see them as being big players in the tablet space. I’m having dinner with RIM folks tonight, though, and it’ll be interesting to see how much more bullish I get after they buy me a couple of glasses of wine. Microsoft? Everyone yawned at their tablet plans last year and this year Ballmer didn’t do any better and, instead, stuck to the script of talking about Kinect wins in December (eight million of them sold).

Anyone else out there? Well, Samsung has this convertible tablet that was attracting large crowds on the opening day of CES. The thing is it’s running Windows 7 (which is still clunky for touch) and they weren’t discussing price. It’s convertible because the keyboard slides out to turn it from a tablet to a laptop-style thing. We’ve had Windows tablets like this from Compaq and others in the past and the market ignored them for the most part until the iPad came along.

It just seemed uninspired to me and I don’t see that Samsung’s going to be able to get many buyers excited by this, although Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is the 7-inch leader at the moment (running Android) and I don’t see anyone taking away its lead there.

So, to recap, there are going to be three big tablet launches.

1. Motorola.
2. Apple.
3. HP.

After all these launches are done, let’s see which tablet you and I will buy this year. See you February 9th.

UPDATE: yeah, I should mention the Notion Ink Adam. Engadget loved it, but give me a break, it is a no-name company and won’t be considered alongside a Motorola, Apple, or HP.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

14 thoughts on “The big tablet launches (one down, two to go)

  1. Sascha Pallenberg of NetbookNews.com was a delight to see and hear. His fun with this tablet and netbook technology is infectious. If he likes the Motorola Xoom, and he provided multiple reasons to do so, it is well worth looking into when they finally get the product to market. On the basis of his testimony I cancelled a another tablet I ordered just then night before on Amazon.

  2. I would agree with Robert’s remarks about Notion Ink’s Adam if it was just a tablet. However Notion Ink has worked hard to make the user interface very attractive adding advanced multi tasking to Android and even options to have apps running side by side.

    If Notion Ink succeeds in getting the Adam in the shops, then I expect that end-users will be really convinced by holding the tablet in their hands. After all there is nothing above a good and fluently working user-interface and I have the impression that Adam beats there Motorola easily.

  3. I really hope that some honeycomb tabs make it to the market before iPad 2 lauches. I would also motorolas Xoom. But chances to get one in europe seem to be very small….

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