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The new faces of tablets

Agam Shah | March 14, 2013
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.

Multitasking on the Galaxy Note 8.0 didn't seem as seamless to me as it is on a PC, but Samsung gets points for trying. It's difficult to switch between applications or to adjust window sizes on a small touchscreen interface, but as customers demand more from their tablets, Samsung is listening.

Right now, multitasking is not a make-or-break feature for tablet usage, which revolves around tasks like email and video streaming, but not intense video editing, said Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates. But multitasking is being heavily touted by Android tablet makers as a key feature, Kay said.

The Galaxy Note 8.0 has Android 4.1 and a 1.6GHz quad-core ARM processor. The screen displays images at 1280 x 800 pixel resolution. Other features include a 5-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front camera, 16GB or 32GB of storage, and 2GB of memory. Samsung said it would release pricing at a later date.

Multiboot

Asus recently announced it would ship a dual-boot Transformer AiO PC that can be an Android 4.1 tablet or a Windows 8 desktop when connected to a wireless PC docking station. With an 18.4-inch screen, the tablet is oversized, but the dual-boot feature provides an interesting twist to a market where tablets are closely tied to operating systems. The oversized tablet can also connect to the docking station wirelessly to become a remote Windows 8 virtual desktop. In the future, we may see dual-boot tablets offering the option to load Windows or Linux-based operating systems.

The tablet weighs 2.28 kilograms, provides five hours of battery life and runs on an ARM processor. Other features include 2GB of RAM, a front-facing camera, mini-USB 2.0 port, micro-SD slot and Wi-Fi. The docking station has typical PC hardware with an Intel Core i5 processor based on the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture, a Nvidia GeForce GT730M graphics processor, 1TB hard drive, 8GB of DRAM, USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and Wi-Fi. The tablet will become available in the second quarter starting at $1,299.

Connectivity

Asus last month introduced a "phablet" named Fonepad, which is a standard 7-inch tablet, but with 3G connectivity. When introducing the device last month at Mobile World Congress, Asus Chairman Jonney Shih held a Fonepad up to his ear as if to indicate the tablet can be used as a supersized phone. Lenovo also introduced new Android tablets with 3G connectivity for developing countries, where LTE is not available. HP, which will soon start shipping its $169 Slate 7 tablet, made a conscious decision not to include 3G as the company considers Wi-Fi connectivity sufficient.

More tablets are being released with 3G and 4G chips included, but many opt not to use mobile networks and find Wi-Fi enough for Internet access, said Gold of J. Gold Associates.

 

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