Apple's iPad may finally have some competition.
With the gadget, Apple started the craze for building devices that are smaller than notebooks and bigger than standard smartphones, feature touch-screen interfaces, and enable people to browse the Web and download apps. And the iPad took off quicker than most people anticipated, selling 3 million units in its first 80 days. The device is expected to keep tight hold of its market-leading position for at least the next year.
But beginning this fall (with several new devices launching at IFA Berlin last week) and stretching through next year (with the Consumer Electronics Show in early January), there are going to be far more consumer touch-screen tablets to choose from. And not just from small niche manufacturers. Some of the world's largest makers of consumer electronics and PCs are jumping into the fray--companies with the resources (including, in many cases, Google's rapidly proliferating Android operating system) to take on the Apple mobile-device juggernaut.
The big players in the developing tablet race will be familiar: they're many of the same people who are tussling for consumers' dollars and attention in the smartphone realm. As with smartphones, choosing a touch-screen tablet will mean deciding between different operating systems: Apple's iOS, Google's Android, Palm's WebOS, Research In Motion's BlackBerry operating system, and Microsoft's Windows 7--except, in some instances, without having to also decide on a wireless carrier.
Here's a look at some of the iPad's competitors. It's not a comprehensive survey, of course. But it's a good look at the tablets coming from companies with the tech chops and marketing clout to compete with Apple. … Read more