Let’s Get Digital – The Tablet Wars

It’s all about to kick off. My biggest disappointment for 2010 was that the promise of digital comics flourishing with the launch of the iPad didn’t seem to manifest. Yes, there are a lot more digital comics now than there were a year ago but it wasn’t the great leap forwards that I’d hoped for.

2011 kicked off with the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. If there was a theme for the event it was tablets…lots and lots of tablets. And today at an HP event they’ve announced their foray into the marketplace, the Touchpad.

This means that in the first half of 2011 if rumour and tradeshow promises are to be believed we’ll have four potentially significant tablets being released along with a slew of others.

iPad 2

It’s going to be the least surprising announcement of the year when it comes. Everyone knows Apple are working on a 2nd generation of the iPad and as things stand it’s the version I’ll be buying. I’m expecting evolution not revolution, faster, more memory, a camera, an updated iOS…not expecting anything from left field. Tech rumours made a lot of mention of a higher res display but the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that it’s for a later generation.

Motorola Xoom

This is the heavy hitter for the Android crowd. A Tegra dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, 32GB Storage, 10″ 1280×800 (up from the iPad’s 1024×768) resolution, 5MP camera, HD video recording and playback and running the tablet-focused Android 3.0 (AKA Honeycomb). Android is the area with the most number of tablets hitting the market, but the Xoom is at the top of the spec sheets at the moment. Comixology have an Android app already out there and with sales figures catching up with the iPad’s I’d expect more publishers heading to the Android Market soon. Did I forget to mention flash? Well this baby will run flash, meaning that the 9000+ comics on Marvel’s DCU service should all be readable if you’ve got a subscription. A hefty expected $799 pricetag though.

Blackberry Playbook

Where tablets meet business. This is a smaller 7″ 1024×600 tablet running an OS which has yet to be given its own snazzy name…so I’ll call it Geoff. While this is focused as a productivity tool for business folks it’s going to end up in the hands of a lot of people as while IT departments are typically a bit squirrelly about dishing out iPads the blackberry is practically part of the decor. I can’t see there being specific apps (who knows) but it it runs flash then it will potentially open some doors.

HP TouchPad

The new kid on the block. Running webOS 3.0 and having an equally spiffy dual-core 1GHz processor, a 9.7″ 1024×768 screen (same as iPad), 1GB RAM and also supporting flash this is a bit of an outsider’s choice. The UI certainly looks slick and the features list is on a par with even the Xoom. Pricing will be key, as will app support.

The tablet purchaser is going to be spoiled for choice in 2011, let’s just hope that the publishers have something truly compelling to offer.
By: Dave Williams

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