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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.

"There are a lot of people who don't want to pay $40 to $50 a month" for 3G or LTE connectivity, Gold said.

But whether users like it or not, connectivity to 3G and 4G networks is being integrated into the Wi-Fi chip, Gold said. So the feature will increasingly become available by default in many tablets, and it's cheaper for device makers to just put the combined chip in tablets, Gold said.

Screen resolution

The race to improve screen resolution is already under way, with the next goal perhaps being 4K resolution, which is four times today's high-definition screens. Panasonic at International CES showed a 20-inch tablet capable of displaying images at a 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The best available resolution today is on Google's Nexus 10 tablet, which displays images at 2560 x 1600 resolution, and Apple is a close second with the iPad's 2048 x 1536 resolution. Right now, Panasonic considers the 4K tablet a niche product, relevant mostly for multimedia tasks like video editing. But as gaming and movie companies begin offering 4K content, higher-resolution screens will become more relevant.


Screen sizes and prices apart, there's a lot of untapped potential in the tablet market and many designs will appear as companies try to figure out what works for buyers, Endpoint's Kay said.

Tablets are already being pitched as gaming consoles and mobile payment terminals, Kay said. Tablets are also being touted as the centerpiece of living rooms to operate TVs and other multimedia devices.

The cloud is encouraging the development of specialized tablets and gadgets that fit snugly into corporate environments or for delivering online services like video streaming, Kay said. There will be devices built in the vein of Amazon's Kindle Fire, which is designed mostly to purchase books, video and music from Amazon's online retail store.

Companies are already showing such devices, Kay said. For example, HP has showed off some tablet designs with different screen sizes behind closed doors, some of which might come out this year or the next.

But the tablet market has changed tremendously in the few years since Apple's iPad was released. The market will continue to evolve, with some tablets succeeding, and a lot failing.

"Not all of them will be positioned quite right or priced quite right," Kay said.


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