Tablets

iPad competitors: The top 20 to watch [UPDATED]

The Apple iPad has re-energized the market for tablets but it has gone most of 2010 with nary a competitor. That's changing. Here's an updated list of 20 upstarts taking aim at the iPad.

The Apple iPad has re-energized the market for tablet computers but it has gone nearly all of 2010 without a serious challenger. That's changing. Here's is my updated list of the top 20 upstarts that are taking aim at the iPad.

The best way to view this list is the companion slide show so that you can get a look at each of the tablets. Otherwise, you can get a quick summary in the list below. I've only featured tablets that have at least 7-inch screens and that have been officially announced (in most cases). The list also serves as a ranking. I've put the ones that are the most promising and the most likely to actually make it to market at the top of the list.

1. Samsung Galaxy Tab

Based on a similar design to the Samsung Galaxy S smartphones, this 7-inch Android 2.2 tablet is loaded with strong specs and will be available on many different carriers, including all of the big four in the US. It is the iPad's most serious competitor to arrive in 2010.

3. BlackBerry PlayBook

Aimed at stopping the iPad's momentum with executives and business professionals, the 7-inch BlackBerry tablet will be built on its own QNX operating system and is flush with power with a 1 GHz dual core CPU and 1 GB of RAM. But, battery life could be an issue and the PlayBook won't arrive until 2011. RIM recently said the PlayBook will sell for under $500, which will make it a tempting enterprise device.

4. Cisco Cius

Primarily an enterprise communications and collaboration device, the Cisco Cius is an 7-inch Android tablet with a heavy layer of Cisco customization on top. Consumers won't be interested, but existing Cisco customers who want a corporate-controlled tablet might be.

2. HP Slate 500

Announced by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES 2010 in January, this HP "Slate PC" running Windows 7 was intended to preempt Apple's iPad announcement later that month. It was reportedly canceled in mid-2010 when HP bought Palm and said it was going to create a webOS tablet instead. Then, the HP Slate 500 was revived this fall. HP recently admitted that demand for the Slate 500 has been stronger than the company anticipated.

5. Toshiba Libretto

One of the more innovative tablet competitors is the Libretto with its dual 7-inch multi-touch screens. One screen can be used entirely as a virtual keyboard while you work on the other. It runs Windows 7 acts a little more like a netbook than a tablet but it's an interesting concept.

6. ViewSonic ViewPad 100

This 10-inch tablet dual boots Windows 7 and Android 1.6. It has an LED display, 1 GB of RAM, a 1.66 GHz CPU, and a 16 GB onboard SSD drive.

7. ASUS Eee Pad

Now one of the world's top five computer makers and one of the leaders in design, ASUS has talked throughout the year about launching various iPad competitors (branded "Eee Pad") from 9-inch to 12-inch models, running Windows 7, Windows Embedded Compact, or Android. ASUS has promised a tablet will be coming in the first quarter of 2011.

8. Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid

One of the big hits of CES 2010, the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid is a convertible tablet with a multi-touch screen that detaches from a hardware keyboard. The main system runs Windows 7 but the detachable 11.6-inch screen turns into a standalone tablet running Linux. It has been delayed until 2011, but Lenovo says the standalone tablet will also be released separately as the Lenovo LePad.

9. Archos 10.1

Archos is a PDA and tablet company that has been trying to break into this market for a couple years with several different form factors and operating systems. The company could have a moderate success with its 10-inch tablet running Android 2.2

10. Toshiba Folio 100

This 10-inch tablet runs on the Nvidia Tegra processor and Android 2.2. Unlike the Toshiba Libretto, this is a standard slate form factor. It's a vanilla tablet that Toshiba will try to price as low as possible.

11. LG Android tablet

We don't know much about this one other than it will run Android, have "high-end features," focus on productivity, and LG executive Chang Ma said "Our tablet will be better than the iPad."

12. MSI WindPad 100

This one is expected to come in both Windows 7 and Android versions. The Windows version has heavy specs with an Intel Atom processor, 2 GB of RAM, 2 USB ports, an HDMI port, and a 32 GB SSD drive.

13. Notion Ink Adam

One of the more intriguing iPad alternatives is the Adam from Notion Ink. It features a very slim, attractive design in a 10-inch tablet with a unique Pixel Qi display, Nvidia Tegra2, and Android 2.2.

14. NEC LifeTouch

This 7-inch Android 2.1 tablet is primarily aimed at accessing apps over the network and will be launched first in Japan. It will be sold to enterprises rather than consumers and NEC envisions it being used for health care, sales, and logistics work.

15. ExoPC Slate

This is a minimalistic tablet running Windows 7, an 11-inch display, and an Intel Atom processor. It has its own custom UI running on top of Windows and is focused primarily on multimedia.

16. Motion J3500

Motion has been on the most effective Tablet PC makers for niche industries, even as Microsoft let the Tablet PC platform languish in recent years. The J3500 is a ruggedized tablet that can run up to a Core i7 processor and Windows 7. It has both Microsoft's traditional pen technology as well as capacitive touchscreen. It's expensive but powerful.

17. Viliv X70 EX

The X70 EX looks less like the iPad and more like the Windows Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs) of the past. It's a 7-inch tablet made to operate with two hands. It's a Windows + Intel device that is also made to easily mount in your car as a GPS.

18. EnTourage eDGe

Like the Toshiba Libretto, the enTourage eDGe features dual screens, but the eDGe has an e-ink e-reader on one side and an Android tablet OS on the other side.

19. Nefonie WeTab

This tablet (formerly called the "WePad") runs the MeeGo OS in an 11-inch form factor and is powered by an Intel Atom processor.

20. Augen Gentouch78

Also known as the "K-Mart tablet," the Gentouch78 is perhaps best known for its low price - $150. However, considering this Android tablet is barely functional, even 150 bucks might be too much to spend on this 7-incher.

Don't forget to check out the companion slide show, which provides a look at each of these tablets.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

33 comments
brupub
brupub

Where's the upcoming new Dell convertible?

aroc
aroc

The Augen is so washed out with horrible quality and support issues! You should take a "reading" on slatedroid.com of what's hot, and what's not. By comparison (sheer number of posts is a telling indicator), the Pandigital Color Novel (white frame, not lower-spec black frame) is a runaway favorite over the Augen, and it has a huge amount of support on that site to maximize its potential from a price point frequently lower than the Augen (if you can find one anymore). That is another of the tips from the forum - how to make the best deal for a Pandigital - $80-130 or so makes it a killer bargain.

tk.jose
tk.jose

I want to buy one which is non windos. Frankly don't like to carry that shit on mobiles. People should shun those so called slave OEMs, who still begging in front of the monopolist :-)

raclarkin
raclarkin

Am I the only one that wants to know why none of these will offer phone capabilities?

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

at first I figured that you were just comparing consumer level, lightweight and inexpensive tablets. But with your inclusion of The Motion J350, I have to ask why you would then miss some of the more hardcore tablet pioneers, Getac, Nexcom, SUMO, XPlore, i-Tronix etc.? Did you have a price cap in mind when considering competitors?

dursse3
dursse3

What about the e-reader from pandigital? What category does it fit?

fubus
fubus

I'm guessing from this that Google's Android platform takes the majority ! - Good luck to Apple and Blackberry !

Phillip.Webster
Phillip.Webster

I think there is a lesson here for Microsoft. I have a UMPC purchased in 2007 that I use on the road running Windows XP for tablets. Yet this platform (Origami) never seemed to hit it's stride. The iPad gets the media attention outside tech circles that UMPCs missed. UMPCs are already business friendly. This leads to the question of consumer adoption. Will it be a flash in the pan in a couple years?

julien.beaucour
julien.beaucour

Did someone heard about SHOGO www.realease.com a B2B tablet device?

FTAdmin
FTAdmin

The most noteworthy (in my opinion) are the Axiotron Modbooks. (http://www.axiotron.com/index.php?id=modbook) Axiotron has been creating Modbooks for several years from Apple OEM laptops. Currently they rely on Wacom pressure-sensitive pens for operation, but touch support is in development. The Modbook is closer to what I want in an Apple tablet, considering that it's a full OS X system, rather than a limited mobile OS. More on-topic for this article are the Always Innovating Smart Book and Touch Book. (http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/home/index.htm) They were out before the iPad and run on Linux with multi-touch interfaces. They both can handle Ubuntu or Android. An interesting point about them is that they offer optional hardware keyboards for converting them into notebooks on the fly. If I remember correctly, the keyboards also contain batteries to extend mobile time.

MENGHOK
MENGHOK

This is good news. Some markets have recognized the first-step-in market. How is it going on?

Sam_Might_Say
Sam_Might_Say

For me a tablet is all about reliability, readability and battery. The iPad delivers on all fronts for me. It is a magnificent bit of equipment and operates as an Apple product should - very well.

taliyahia
taliyahia

You forgot the most important one, ExoPC Slate (www.exopc.com) from a canadian startup.

sotires
sotires

Many of these products have better specs than the i-pad. Once again, marketing is stronger than technology. My own choice for my next buy is the Archos. One thing I can't understand: you see Kindles for sale on ebay with comments like "I'm selling it because I bought an i-Pad". A completely different device.

lynnembailey
lynnembailey

Can't wait to see them in action.. thanks for the previews.

stevenjklein
stevenjklein

The one thing most of these tablets have in common is that they are vaporware. They've been announced, but almost none are shipping. This should please Apple shareholders, as its very easy to outsell a product that's never actually been offered for sale!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Linux, Android ? We aren't just discussing Windows tablets.

jacobus57
jacobus57

...that you work for this company, and are spamming the list?

taliyahia
taliyahia

You forgot the most important one, SLATE from a canadian startup (www.exopc.com).

Wijzalzie
Wijzalzie

So they no longer want to carry both devices? I have a ipad. I love it.

DNSB
DNSB

If the Kindle on eBay is the DX model, the size and weight are close enough to the iPad to make not keeping both a no-brainer. The iPad with it's iBook app does work as an pretty decent eReader. Personally, I find it too heavy to make a good reader and still use my Kobo for entertainment reading while the iPad is used for tech documents where its improved PDF handling and larger screen makes viewing diagrams and graphics. As usual, YMMV.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I said it about all the pre-release fuss over the iPad. I'm morally obligated to repeat it about these devices. Ain't seen one, most don't have release dates. Move along; nothing to see (yet).

jacobus57
jacobus57

I love my Asus netbook. I purchased it with low expectations, but it rapidly became my primary machine, including nightly Hulu/Netflix viewing with a x-country friend. It is fast, quite, robust, happily dual-boots XP and Trisquel, handles the wide array of conventional and FOSS applications I have packed on it with ease, has a great screen, and frankly blows everything other than very high-end, properly configured and tuned machines out of the water. If their tablets are of the same caliber, they will do very well.

SKDTech
SKDTech

Something which is not yet for sale but the fact that there are competitors readying their products for market could very well cause many to hold off until later instead of buying an iPad now.

Wijzalzie
Wijzalzie

It depends on the applications that are available for them. As you can see with the success of the ipad the apps contribute to its success. Only internet access will not be enough to slay the mighty Apple.

salvador.santander
salvador.santander

What happens with google gpad or irobot apad? They seems to be a good competitors and very cheap (over 150$)

taliyahia
taliyahia

I dont't work for this company. I am not a stake holder neither. Slate ExoPC will buzz same as RIM did and continue to do with Blackberry. I like very much Apple, but they are not ready for the enterprise market.

DNSB
DNSB

Hmmm... the ExoPC Slate has fairly decent specs but the predicted 4 hour battery life is going to be an issue. The weight at 950 grams is also going to be an issue with using it as an ereader "for any format". If I found a 680g iPad too heavy to hold for extended periods of time, a unit that weighs close to 50% more is not going to work. And as seems usual, there is no retail release date information though much information for preorders. With a preorder, you get a stylus, you get a stand, you get a certificate signed by the CEO. Sounds like a TV marketing ad. With pricing at $649 for the 32GB model and $749 for the 64GB model, the price comparison to the iPad with the same storage is identical -- at least in Canada. In US dollars and Euros (going by Apple US and UK), the iPad is cheaper in the US and about the same in Britain. Though the British pricing is iffy since the iPad 32GB at 499 British pounds includes VAT while the ExoPC Slate pricing does not. Adding 17.5% to the Slate 32GB pricing gives 471 pounds (converting 649 Cdn. dollars to British pounds and adding what I think is the current British VAT rate).

Wijzalzie
Wijzalzie

I agree but I also think people may delay buying a e-reader.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

iPad and iPhone are two devices I have long said just don't fit the needs of enterprise workers. I couldn't get any enterprises to even consider them for an RFP! I stopped even trying to quote iPhones for business; as for iPads, they just don't even begin to meet Enterprise needs, not even their most minimal needs.

taliyahia
taliyahia

The second one was a glitch, because I was not sure if the first one passed or not.

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