A number of manufacturers plan to introduce their own tablet computing devices at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), hoping to outmaneuver Apple, which has been painfully slow to actualize the rumors for their device.
Almost all of the hype surrounding the revival of the tablet computer has centered around the Apple tablet (variously the iTablet, iSlate, or iGuide, whatever) that has been much rumored and much discussed for over a year but which has not even been acknowledged by Cupertino. Apple has scheduled a press conference in San Francisco for the end of this month, probably to introduce their tablet device, but they will be well behind the early sales curve by then. Or will they?
Tablet products expected to be introduced at CES include the Notion Ink, the Microsoft Courier, an entry from Dell, and perhaps others, according to an AppleInsider article. In addition, Freescale Semiconductor of Austin has announced a 7-inch-diagonal reference tablet device design utilizing Arm processors which, though small, could be used to build a tablet device for around $200. Freescale will be showing a prototype of this device this week, as well, although it sounds more like an iPod knock-off than a tablet.
The market seems to be getting crowded before it even exists, but does it really matter? Some of the competitors have no real name recognition, others do not have any of the appeal of the assumed Apple tablet, and there has been little if any real discussion about any of them. Certainly the voracious press coverage at CES will get the new tablets on the block a lot of ink this week. That could prove invaluable to them, as could being introduced before the Apple tablet.
This, however, is going to be a case where the money follows the real hype, and that has all been centered on the Apple iTablet. In truth, these rumors have re-invented what a tablet needs to be: it needs to be an iPod Touch on steroids. It will be improved upon later with fancy processors, different operating systems, different models, and different capabilities, but for the short term all it needs to be is what the tech press has already described in the rumors. If they can get that done by the end of January, all the CES tablet hype will be much ado about nothing.