Try this, try that and see what entices customers. That's the mantra for tablet makers that are experimenting with new tablet features in the elusive quest to deliver the next big hit.
Sony and Fujitsu are waterproofing their latest tablets, while Samsung is pushing multitasking by enabling users to simultaneously watch video, take notes and send email with the new Galaxy Note 8.0. Asus is bringing Android and Windows dual-boot capabilities to its Transformer AiO tablet-and-desktop hybrid, which was introduced last week.
Device makers are flooding the market with new tablet designs to see what consumers are willing to pay for, said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates.
"Part of the problem is nobody knows what's going to stick," Gold said. "It's really about vendors wanting to differentiate and how they can get an advantage."
The tablet market is very young, and will go through many changes just like the smartphone and PC markets, Gold said.
Given their penchant for introducing innovative features to gadgets, it's not surprising that Japanese tablet makers are the first to waterproof tablets. Sony will soon begin worldwide shipments of its Xperia Tablet Z, a waterproof and dust-resistant tablet running the Android OS, and Fujitsu will ship its Arrows Tab Q582/F tablet, which has similar features and runs Windows 8. The tablets can remain submerged in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes and still work, according to Sony and Fujitsu. It's a handy feature for clumsy tablet users like me who tend to drop devices.
This feature could ultimately come by default as tablet makers add ruggedness to their devices.
The Xperia Tablet Z has a 10.1-inch screen, is 6.9 millimeters thick and weighs 495 grams. It has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and Android 4.1. Other features include an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. The screen displays images at 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution. It will become available in the second quarter, though price was not immediately available.
Fujitsu's Arrows Tab Q582/F tablet has an Intel Atom Z2760 processor code-named Clover Trail and an integrated Fujitsu LTE modem. It has 64GB of solid-state drive storage and 2GB of RAM. The tablet provides an estimated 10 hours of battery life. It is due to ship in Japan for US$1,330 this month, though worldwide availability has not yet been determined.
Samsung is emphasizing the ability to do multiple things at once with its Galaxy Note 8.0, which will ship in the second quarter. In demonstrations, Samsung officials showed that users could watch video and take notes simultaneously on the tablet, and link a note to a mapping application while the video was playing. Samsung has added some software features and the multitasking was aided by extensive use of Samsung's S-Pen stylus.
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