iPadversaries! 32 Tablets, Slates, Pads, and More

Get ready for the coming onslaught of rivals to Apple’s tablet–it’s going to get crazy.

By Harry McCracken |  Posted at 1:42 am on Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why are iPads selling as fast as Apple’s Chinese subcontractors can crank them out? In part, it’s because the iPad has a suddenly-hot product category pretty much to itself. Before scuttlebutt that Apple was working on a tablet started to heat up, no major PC manufacturer seemed to think that consumers wanted a general-purpose, touchscreen-only computing device. Now almost all the big names–and lots of little ones–are furiously playing catch up.

End result: Starting later this year, the iPad will be confronted by an army of other touchscreen machines, from potentially worthy opponents to shameless wannabees. Call ‘em iPadversaries, and read on for my first stab at accounting for (most of) them.

I cheerfully admit that I’ve defined the term “iPadversary” loosely. Some of these gizmos are very much meant to compete head-to-head with Apple’s tablet, including a bevy of Windows 7 “slate PCs.” Others won’t do so at all–such as the OLPC XO 3.0 and “$35 Indian tablet”–but I found them intriguing for one reason or another. And a few (such as RIM’s BlackPad) are unconfirmed rumors which may or may not pan out.

There are also a few tablets that are already for sale here, all of which have one thing in common: Most of the reviews of them range from so-so to profoundly negative.

I considered only devices with touchscreens–and only screens that are at least 5″. I didn’t include any product which definitely has a physical keyboard, although some of the upcoming Windows slates which we know almost nothing about will reportedly have them. (If so, they’ll be Tablet PC offspring more than iPad counterparts.)

I’ve attempted to gather some basic facts on each device, and to indicate when the information I mention is speculation or rumor rather than confirmed fact. I’d be amazed, however, if all of these products reach the market in exactly the form detailed here.

Shall we get started?

Archos 5

Availability: Now
OS: Android 1.6
Screen size: 4.8″
Price: $299 (16GB version)
What else: Paris-based Archos has been making tablets since we were supposed to call them portable media centers, and the three Archos products in this list all shipped well before the iPad did. This one, with its 5″ display and Android OS, feels like a Gallic cousin of the Dell Streak.
More info: Ubergizmo gave it a semi-positive review.

Archos 7

Availability: Now
OS: Android 1.5
Screen size: 7″
Price: $199
What else: This Archos Android tablet has a bigger screen than the 5 but costs a hundred bucks less. It runs an even older version of Android.
More info: Engadget really didn’t care for it.

Archos 9

Availability: Now
OS: Windows 7 Starter Edition
Screen size: 8.9″
Price: $549.99
What else: As usual, Archos already has a device out in a product category that larger companies are still talking about–Windows 7 slates. It has a resistive screen (rather than the iPad’s capacitive one) with no multi-touch gestures.
More info: UMPC Portal’s review says it’s not anywhere near as good as it looks.

Asus EeePad EP101TC

Availability: Early 2011
OS: Android
Screen size: 10″
Price: $399 to $499?
What else: EeePads are running late–at one point Asus was supposed to have one ready for July 2010 availability. The EP101TC may still be a work in progress: It was originally going to run Windows Embedded Compact, but is now an Android machine.
More info: Engadget has a brief write-up.

Asus EeePC EP121

Availability: Early 2011
OS: Windows 7
Screen size: 12″
Price: $399 to $499?
What else: According to Engadget, Asus has demoed the EP121 with “a super sleek keyboard docking station, which will be used to turn the tablet into an ultraportable laptop of sorts.”
More info: Here’s Engadget.

Augen Gentouch78

Availability: Now, at Kmart
OS: Android 2.1
Screen size: 7″
Price: $150
What else: Did I mention it costs $150? Also, it seems to have an unauthorized version of the Android Marketplace.
More info: The Android Blog tried one and wasn’t exactly knocked out.

Best Buy Rocketfish Tablet

Availability: Unknown
OS: Android 2.2?
Screen size: nine inches or thereabouts?
Price: Unknown
What else: We’ll know more as Best Buy’s CTO tweets it, apparently–this product from Best Buy’s house brand hasn’t been announced, but he keeps teasing his followers with tidbits.
More info: Lilliputing writes about the gizmo here.

Cisco Cius

Availability: First quarter of 2011
OS: Android
Screen size: 7″
Price: Unknown
What else: As you’d expect from Cisco, it has a business focus, does video conferencing, and turns into a VoIP phone when you stick it in its dock. For my money, this might be the iPadversary with the most promise.
More info: Here’s Cisco’s Cius announcement.

Dell Streak

Availability: Now (as of August 12th)
OS: Android 1.6 at first; 2.2 later this year
Screen size: 5″
Price: $249.99 with a two-year AT&T contract; $549.99 a la carte
What else: You could make the case that the Streak is an iPhone alternative, not an iPad rival–with its 5″ screen, it’s (barely) pocketable, and it has built-in 3G voice capability. But Dell is pitching it as a data device you can make phone calls on, not a phone you can do data on.
More info: I find it kind of intriguing.

Dell Windows Slate

Availability: This year
OS: Windows 7
Screen size: Unknown
Price: Unknown
What else: This is one of numerous Windows 7 slates promised for 2010 in a July Steve Ballmer speech. Ballmer said that some of these devices would have keyboards and/or pens, and some would be aimed at consumers while others would target big businesses–but he didn’t say anything about specific products and their features.

EnTourage eDGe

Availability: Now
OS: Android 1.6
Screen size: It’s got two of ‘em: a 10.1″ LCD touchscreen and a 9.7″ E-Ink touchscreen. It also has a stylus.
Price: $539
What else: The eDGe is a “dualbook”–an e-reader on its left side and a touch tablet on its right side. It’s got its own app store and e-book store.
More info: Engadget didn’t find it terribly satisfying.

ExoPC Slate

Availability: Early September
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium with proprietary layer
Screen size: 11.6″
Price: $599
What else: Engaget tried one and thought the display was crummy but was favorably impressed by what it called the “Connect Four” interface.
More info: The ExoPC site is here (it’s not clear how up-to-date it is)

Fujitsu Windows Slate

Availability: This year
OS: Windows 7
Screen size: Unknown
Price: Unknown
What else: Another product from the long list promised by Steve Ballmer last month. Unlike many of the companies planning to jump into the slate PC game, Fujitsu is an old hand at making keyboardless Windows computers.

Fusion Garage JooJoo

Availability: now
OS: Linux
Screen size: 12.1″
Price: $499
What else: It began its odd life as a computer TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington wished he could buy, the CrunchPad. Then it became the subject of a bizarre corporate dispute. When it finally shipped as the JooJoo it got devastating reviews. Rumor a while back was that sales were in the dozens; Fusion Garage is insistent that sales are…increasing. Unlike other devices here, the JooJoo is basically a browser in a box–it doesn’t have apps, let alone an app store.
More info: Here’s the JooJoo site.

HP Windows Slate

Availability: Fall 2010
OS: Windows 7
Screen size: 8.9″
Price: At one point, it was allegedly going to start at $549
What else: The star of Steve Ballmer’s CES 2010 keynote went into mysterious limbo and will now supposedly ship later this year as a product for large companies.
More info: Here’s a video demo, made back when HP was not only willing to talk about this product but was lavishing it with hype.

HP “PalmPad”

Availability: Rumor has it that it’ll ship in the first quarter of 2011
Screen size: Unknown
Price: Unknown
What else: HP hasn’t said much other than that it intends to build a tablet device using its newly-acquired Palm WebOS. “PalmPad” is the rumored name; additional gossip has it that it will use a Wacom-style digital pen to permit note-taking.
More info: PCWorld’s Tony Bradley tried his hand at comparing HP’s Windows and WebOS devices.

Lenovo “LePad”

Availability: Late 2010, although it’s not clear it’ll be sold anywhere but China
OS: Android
Screen size: Unknown (at least to me–I’m not positive that the photo here is of this particular Lenovo device)
Price: Unknown
What else: VentureBeat’s story on LePad mentions another Lenovo device whose fate is unclear–the U1, which is one-half netbook, one-half tablet. It’s not in this list because it has a physical keyboard.
More info: Here’s a Reuters story.

MSI WindPad 100

Availability: This year
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium with a “Wind Touch” interface layer
Screen size: 10″
Price: Approximately $499
What else: A photo of the side of the device at Trusted Reviews makes it look terrifyingly thick.
More info: Joanna Stern of Engadget shares some first impressions (“incredibly sluggish”).

MSI WindPad 110

Availability: This year, or possibly never, depending on which MSI employee you ask
OS: Android 2.1
Screen size: 10″
Price: $399?
What else: As you can see from the photos, the industrial design is different from MSI’s Windows-based WindPad 100.
More info: TweakTown has a video hands-on.

Marvell “Moby” Tablet

Availability: This year
OS: Android
Screen size: I’m not sure (and it might vary)
Price: Starting at $99
What else: This isn’t a specific product–it’s Marvell’s reference design for extremely low-cost tablets which will be built by other companies using Marvell chips. The company hopes resulting products will be affordable enough for use by public schools.
More info: Hey, I was the first person to write about Moby (although at the time I didn’t know the code name or the $99 price point).

Motorola-Verizon TV tablet

Availability: Fall 2010 or next year, depending on who you believe; neither Motorola nor Verizon has acknowledged its existence
OS: Android (possibly version 3.0 “Gingerbread”)
Screen size: 10″
Price: Unknown
What else: The Financial Times has reported that it will be thinner and lighter than the iPad and will sport two cameras.
More info: BGR has also reported on the device.

Nefonie WeTab

Availability: September?
OS: Linux (unless that’s really Windows 7 under there)
Screen size: 11.6″
Price: Apparently around $580
What else: This German iPadversary’s custom user interface places advertising widgets on the desktop which you can’t remove.
More info: It may not be for sale yet, but it already has its own Wikipedia entry, and that’s a start.

Notion Ink Adam

Availability: Possibly this year
OS: Android
Screen size: Unknown
Price: Unknown
What else: The Adam is from India, was demoed at CES back in January, boasts an individualistic industrial design, and will be available in a version with Pixel Qi’s innovative screen technology, which can work in backlit and non-backlit modes. But the Notion Ink site has few details and the whole project has a slightly vaporous feel at the moment.
More info: Slashgear went behind the scenes at Notion Ink.


Availability: 2012, in theory
OS: Linux with a next-generation version of the Sugar user interface, I’d imagine
Screen size: The device itself is 8.5″ by 11″ and all screen (and 1.4″ thick)
Price: They’re shooting for $75
What else: This isn’t an iPad rival–it’s a successor to the “$100 laptop” (which costs more than $100) for kids in developing nations. It’s also not a sure thing, considering that the OLPC Foundation showed off an OLPC 2.0 concept in 2008, then decided not to build it. Nicholas Negroponte describes the XO 3.0 as “aspirational,” which I assume is a code-word for “this is a cool concept which we hope we can build by the time 2012 rolls around.”
More info: XO 3.0 is years from intended production, but the OLPC press release already says it’s a breakthrough advance.

Onkyo Windows Slate

Availability: This year
OS: Windows 7
Screen size: Unknown
Price: Unknown
What else: Waitaminnit, I thought Onkyo made stereo equipment! Turns out it makes computing devices, too–and it was mentioned in Steve Ballmer’s slide about 2010 Windows 7 slate PCs.

Panasonic Windows Slate

Availability: This year
OS: Windows 7
Screen size: Unknown
Price: Unknown
What else: Another Ballmer-slide slate. When it comes to traditional PCs, Panasonic specializes in extra-durable ToughBook laptops; maybe this will turn out to be the ToughPad.

RIM “BlackPad”

Availability: Supposedly November
OS: Presumably BlackBerry OS
Screen size: Apparently similar to the iPad’s 9.7″
Price: Allegedly $499
What else: RIM isn’t talking, but Bloomberg seems pretty sure of a bunch of details.
More info: I said that the BlackPad will presumably run RIM’s own BlackBerry OS. But there’s scuttlebutt that it runs Android–which doesn’t seem like a completely nutty idea.

Samsung Windows Slate

Availability: This year
OS: Windows 7
Screen size: Unknown
Price: Unknown
What else: Samsung is another company mentioned in Steve Ballmer’s slide on upcoming Windows tablets. With so many supposedly on the way, it’ll be fascinating to see how much room the manufacturers have to give any specific WinSlate much personality of its own. For what it’s worth, Samsung makes some nifty netbooks.

Sony Windows Slate

Availability: This year
OS: Windows 7
Screen size: Unknown
Price: Unknown
What else: Another Ballmer-slide slate. All things being equal, shouldn’t Sony have as good or better a chance as any company of building a tablet that could compete with the iPad in terms of raw industrial-design polish?

“The $35 Indian Tablet”

Availability: Mid-2011
OS: Linux. Or maybe Android.
Screen size: Unknown (at least to me)
Price: Um, $35? In theory, they might eventually cost ten bucks apiece.
What else: The device is the pet project of Indian Minister for HR Development Kapil Sibal and is meant for use in schools in that country. The host of a tech TV show there pronounced it “fairly impressive.”
More info: Our own Jared Newman is inexplicably skeptical about this product and the intended price point.

Toshiba Libretto W100

Availability: This month
OS: Windows 7
Screen size: Like the eDGe, it’s a dualie–it has two 7″ color LCD touchscreens (the bottom one can display content or a keyboard)
Price: $1100
What else: Toshiba isn’t pitching this new model in its venerable Libretto line as an iPad killer. Instead, it says it’s a concept PC which shows off technologies that might become common in future machines.
More info: Here’s Toshiba’s own write-up of the W100.

Toshiba Windows Slate

Availability: This year
OS: Windows 7
Screen size: Unknown
Price: Unknown
What else: Yes, another slate from Ballmer’s presentation. Toshiba is one of the few companies left that still offers a full complement of Windows-based Tablet PCs.

Okay, that’s enough for now, although I could go on. (Steve Ballmer’s slide mentioned ten more Windows slates that are supposedly on the way, mostly from Asian suppliers.)

Are you genuinely excited by any of these? Do you think any will be breakout hits? If I were Steve Jobs, I wouldn’t be rattled by by of them, although  details are so scant on many that it’s impossible to form an opinion, period.

I already mentioned that I found the Cisco Cius intriguing; Notion Ink’s Adam also stands out from the pack. I’m itching to learn details about HP’s WebOS device. And I remain extremely skeptical about Windows 7 as a tablet operating system–but I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised…


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