Tablet computers have allowed people to take the Internet with them to places they simply could not before. Computing has never been as portable or as simple as it is today, and tablets will only continue to innovate as they grow in market share. 2012 and 2013 are likely to tip the scales even more in their favor, and tablets may soon become the number one way that people utilize computing technology. Those who aren’t on the bandwagon will be soon, and those who are have a lot to be excited about.
Windows 8 Tablet
Microsoft has made attempts at entering the tablet market before. In fact, the first models of its tablet PCs hit the market well before the iPad popularized the concept. It looked like Microsoft’s tablet PCs would go the way of the Zune, but earlier this year, Microsoft unveiled the prototypes for a new line of tablets. Branded with the name Surface, the new machines are set to hit the market at the same time as Windows 8, and Windows 8 is designed from the ground up to provide a pleasant and intuitive user experience on mobile devices.
The Surface is also unique in that it comes with a screen cover that doubles as a keyboard, and that means it could serve as a viable laptop replacement. What’s more, the Surface is likely to be cheaper than the latest models of the iPad, and it will have its own app store. Microsoft is gunning straight for Apple’s market share, and Apple may have its first real competition in late 2012.
The Samsung Series 7 Tablet
Samsung isn’t exactly a power player within the realm of tablets, but it would be wrong to count the company out. Samsung has made some good hardware, and it looks like the introduction of Windows 8 has opened the door for new innovations within iteration. Most of the perks provided by the new Samsung tablet are actually the result of improvements made within Microsoft’s new OS, but what sets it apart is the quality of the actual hardware.
While it’s not a high-spec machine, it’s incredibly sturdy. It weighs a bit more than other tablets on the market, but it’s designed to connect to an external keyboard and a docking station. Whereas Surface tablets may eventually become laptop replacements because people who don’t always have their laptops with them will get used to using a Surface tablet instead, the Samsung Windows 8 tablet is practically designed to act as a laptop replacement. Consumers will determine whether Samsung’s bet will pay off once this tablet hits the market.
The Pantech Element
While the Pantech Element runs on an outdated version of the Android OS, it has one quirk in its favor: it’s waterproof. Tablets can often take a beating, but very few of them are designed for outdoor use. This is a tablet that someone would be safe taking on a camping trip, and despite some of its shortcomings, that’s compelling enough in itself to make it worth a look.
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF700
Asus already provides some of the best Android tablets on the market, and the newest model promises an HD screen as well as other general improvements upon the previous iteration. Asus is clearly planning to make the TF700 a laptop replacement, and considering the quality of the hardware that’s being crammed into such a small package, they might actually succeed with some consumers.
The Google Nexus
Google’s tablet is already available, but the fact that Google has moved into the tablet space is worth noting in and of itself. It’s easily one of the cheapest tablet PCs on the market, and its sleek form factor combined with the incredible flexibility of the Android platform makes it an extremely compelling offering.
Despite Google’s strong start, though, the thing that should have most techies salivating is what will come with iteration. A new version of the Google tablet is almost undoubtedly going to hit store shelves within 2013 or 2014, and Google is known for profoundly improving on its offerings with each subsequent product or product iteration. Just as Google+ is a vast improvement over Google Buzz, the next Google tablet may well shake the foundations of the entire computing industry.
There’s going to be a new version of the iPad, and everyone already knows that it’s going to be a sleek piece of hardware. There’s not much to say about Apple that Apple hasn’t already said about itself. The company builds excellent hardware, but the fact that it will face real competition in 2013 may push it to innovate in ways that it hasn’t since the initial release of the iPad.
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