Meet the Top Android Tablets for 2010 and Beyond

One of the hottest trends in the wireless sector is tablets, as all the major players -- Research In Motion, Samsung, HP, Acer and so on -- are either already selling or planning to offer their respective answer to Apple's iPad. While RIM recently made a big splash with the impressive BlackBerry PlayBook, running a new QNX-based mobile operating system dubbed BlackBerry Tablet OS, and HP just unveiled the Slate 500 running Windows 7, it's really Android-powered devices that are generating the most buzz. Here we update the specs, carriers, pricing and release dates of the new crop of Android tablets.

Acer's Android tablet coming Nov. 23

The Taiwan-based PC maker is planning to unveil an Android tablet at a media event in New York City on Nov. 23, according to the Wall Street Journal, which published an interview with the Acer CEO conducted after an earnings conference. No details have been disclosed, but it's widely expected that the company will offer three sizes -- a 5-inch, 7-inch and 10-inch -- ranging in price from $299 to $699.

Samsung Galaxy Tab by Samsung

The Korean electronics giant scored a major coupe by signing up all four major wireless carriers in the U.S. to offer the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the first Android tablet to be considered a major challenger to the iPad.

Powered by the Android 2.2 "Froyo" operating system, the Galaxy Tab boasts 3G connectivity, a 1 GHz processor and front- and rear-facing cameras. The Tab also supports Adobe Flash 10.1, the latest version of the popular media playback software that has emerged as a fault line in the mobile-computing wars, with Apple pointedly barring the technology from running on its devices.

The Android device comes prestocked with a bevy of Google applications, including a YouTube, Gmail, Google Calendar and Talk. Also on the productivity side, the device comes equipped with the ThinkFree Office technology that allows users to open and edit documents in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as PDF files.

Sprint will offer the mobile computing device Nov. 11, for $399 with contract requirements and rebates, and T-Mobile will sell its version, which will support HSPA+ network speeds, for as low as $399.99 with a two-year contract and rebates. Verizon is expected to begin sales Nov. 11 at a $599 price point that won't require any contract commitment. In addition to the carrier availability, leaked signage from Best Buy has also surfaced indicating that the consumer electronics retailer plans to sell both Verizon and Sprint versions of the Tab, retailing for $499.

Archos five-pack of Android 2.2 tablets

Archos is prepping five Android-powered tablets, two due out this month and three later in the fall, ranging in price from $100 to $349, all shipping with Android 2.2. The quintuplets from the portable media player company range from compact mobile devices with 2.8- and 3.2-inch screens to 4.3-, 7- and 10.1-inch displays.

Here's how the line breaks down: the Archos 28 has a 2.8-inch screen, includes 4GB of storage and costs $99.99, while the Archos 32 has a 3.2-inch display, 8GB of storage and costs $149.99. Though hardly big enough to be called tablets, that's how Archos is labeling them, and both are out now.

The other three models are slated for a fall release. They are the Archos 43 with 4.3-inch screen, 8GB, $199.999; Archos 70 with 7-inch screen priced at $274.99 for the 8GB model and $349.99 for the 250GB model; and the Archos 101, with 10.1-inch screen, $299.99 for 8GB and $349 for 16GB.

Cisco Cius by Cisco

Targeted at business users, the Cisco Cius -- which is slated for customer trials in the third quarter and full availability in the beginning of 2011 -- includes a number of features designed to appeal to on-the-go information workers.

For example, the Cius offers both front- and rear-facing 720p HD cameras to enable full video collaboration. It will also integrate with Cisco's suite of collaboration software including the Cisco Quad, WebEx and instant messaging platforms. The device is also designed to be lightweight, tipping the scale at 1.15 pounds.

The Cius includes a docking/recharging station that resembles a traditional Cisco IP phone, complete with handset. The Cius device itself has a 7-inch screen and is Wi-Fi enabled with 802.11a/b/g/n connectivity as well as Bluetooth and 3G wireless capabilities. Recent reports from the TechCrunch gadget blog suggest the mobile computing tablet may be out in limited supply before the year ends, and that it will cost less than $1,000.

Dell Streak by Dell

The diminutive Dell Streak has a 5-inch 800x480 screen, front and rear cameras and built-in 3G connectivity, making it more of an oversized phone than a direct competitor to the iPad. Its Snapdragon processor runs a customized version of Android with Dell's custom UI enhancements, and the device can also access apps on the Android Market. The Dell Streak is available for $299 with a new, two-year contract on AT&T, $549 without. The Streak will ship with Android 1.6, but will be updated to Android 2.2 with an over-the-air upgrade "later this year."

ViewPad 7 and ViewPad 10 by Viewsonic

Viewsonic is taking orders for two new Android tablets, the ViewPad 7, with 7-inch display and running Android 2.2, and the ViewPad 10, a dual-boot device powered by Android 1.6 and Windows 7 with a 10-inch screen. The smaller ViewPad includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G and GSM connectivity, front- and back-facing cameras and microSD slot. The ViewPad 10 has a capacitive, touch-screen display, Intel 1.66GHz processor, integrated 1GB and 16GB solid state disk, and USB as well as SVGA display ports. Check the Viewsonic site for upcoming details on retail availability.


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