Until last year, we all agreed that a computer without a keyboard was as useful as a wicker soup bowl. But this year the touchscreen wonder-windows poured out of CES like ants from an overturned log. Never fear, though -- we won't let you flail around with the fails. Here's our pick of the best tablets from Las Vegas.
The Motorola Xoom could be the 10.1-inch iPad-smasher that Android fans have been waiting for. This sleek but heavy tablet sports a dual-core processor, cameras front and back, and a mini-HDMI port for hooking it up to your telly.
It's also the device that Google used to show off the tablet-centric version of its Android software, Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Android's user interface has received a refresh that means it should take full advantage of the Xoom's big screen. We loved the Samsung Galaxy Tab, a 7-inch tablet that runs on Android 2.2, so the Xoom should be even better.
The Xoom could prove something of a shock to the wallet, though. It's early days, but a listing on UK site Handtec offered the Xoom at the eye-watering price of £720, although the price has since been removed from the listing.
Check out the hands-on photos in our Xoom
preview, which we'll be updating with a full review just as soon as
the tablet zooms into our office.
Asus Eee Pad MeMo
The Asus Eee Pad MeMo runs Android 2.3 Honeycomb and is a more portable package than the Xoom. This 7-inch tablet looks classy and elegant, and, at 389g, the MeMo is considerably lighter than the 730g Xoom too.
Its 1,024x768-pixel resolution makes the MeMo's relatively small screen as sharp as
the edge of an oatcake, and we found we could use the tablet with one
hand. But, despite its diminutive dimensions, the MeMo is still packed with features, including a stylus that
works with the capacitive touchscreen to allow pressure-sensitive
writing and drawing.
RIM has ducked out of the Android and Windows 7 tablet battle, instead chucking its own operating system onto its first tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook. This could prove especially handy if you also use a BlackBerry phone, but we're reserving judgement on the fledgling software until we can put it through its paces properly.
The PlayBook's dual-core processor is all about multi-tasking. An all-new browser that supports Flash and HTML5 should help repair BlackBerry's reputation for supplying out-of-date surfing software.
Like the Xoom, the PlayBook eschews buttons on its face -- there's
no big home button, as there is on the iPad, or multiple menu buttons, like on most Android tablets. Instead, there's
a power button on the top, along with some media-control buttons.
Windows tablets haven't exactly set the world on fire, and now the world's biggest OS is running scared, what with the rise of Android and iOS on big screens. But, for some people, staring through Windows is the only way they can get any work done.
The Samsung TX100 could be the solution for Windows fans who aren't ready to abandon the Land of a Thousand Menus in favour of a mobile phone on steroids. This 10.1-inch tablet packs a cunning surprise -- it has a slide-out keyboard that transforms it into a touchscreen netbook.
When we copped a feel of the TX100, we found it felt slim, despite its Qwerty keyboard, and its USB and HDMI ports should help it compete for bag space with your laptop. With a claimed 9 hours of battery life and an Intel Atom CPU, we've got high hopes that the TX100 will represent the best of both worlds, rather than the horrific result of a cross-breeding exercise that should have been exposed at birth on an ice flow.
Credit for main story image: CCS Insight