Top 10 Tablets, Smartphones from CES

If you had to choose one word to sum up this year's CES in Las Vegas then there's little doubt that "Honeycomb" would be it. There's simply no getting away from the fact that Honeycomb, which is the code name for Google's Android 3.0 tablet-oriented mobile operating system, was the star of the show and the talk of the town.

CES saw the announcement of a whole raft of new tablet devices, many of which look likely to offer some credible competition to Apple's iPad, a device which has had the tablet market more or less to itself for the last nine months. Most of the challengers, but not all, are powered by Honeycomb.

1. Motorola Xoom

The most exciting new Honeycomb-powered mobile device and, incidentally, the device named "Best In Show," is Motorola's Xoom tablet. The Xoom features a dual core processor, a 10.1-inch, 1200x800 screen and front and rear cameras -- a 2-megapixel front one for video calling, and a 5-megapixel rear one that can shoot HD video at 780p. And let's not forget a very impressive browser capable of displaying Flash content. The Xoom will be available later in the year on Verizon's 3G network, and all units will be upgradeable to 4G at some point in Q2. A rumored Wi-Fi only version may also be available in Q2, but this has yet to be confirmed. The Xoom is a mobile device that looks well equipped to challenge the iPad -- at least until the iPad 2 is released later this year.

2. LG G-Slate

Running a close second in the tablet excitement stakes is LG's G-Slate, which also goes by the rather ungainly moniker of the T-Mobile G-Slate with Google from LG. Details are rather thin in terms of the exact specs of the device, but what we do know is that it runs Honeycomb and is designed to work on T-Mobile's HSPDA+ 4G network. It has what looks like a 10-inch screen, and is powered by the popular-among-tablet-makers dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. It's likely to be released some time this year, with pricing yet to be announced.

3. ASUS Eee Pad MeMo

Not to be outdone, ASUS announced three new Honeycomb tablets, targeting a wide range of potential customers. The smallest of these, the Eee Pad MeMo, is a 5- or 7-inch capacitive touchscreen device running at 1024x600, powered by a now-rather-old-fashioned single-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon CPU. The MeMo is small and light -- just about 12 ounces -- and packs a rather unusual stylus with a tip that gets thicker as you press it against the screen, as well as front and rear cameras, a MicroSD card slot and a micro HDMI out jack. The MeMo will be available some time this year in 16, 32 and 64GB versions, with pricing yet to be announced.

4. ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and Slide

For those interested in a more iPad-like experience but who still like their laptops, ASUS also announced the 10.1-inch Eee Pad Transformer, a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2-powered Honeycomb device that's a kind of hybrid tablet-laptop. Connected to the keyboard unit, it's a lightweight Android-powered clamshell device, but remove the keyboard and it is a "conventional" tablet that's less than a half-inch thick, complete with front and rear cameras, Bluetooth and USB connectors. All in all, very unusual in terms of design. And then there's the Eee Pad Slide, a sort of uber-Nokia N810 device made up of a Transformer tablet with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for people who want a tablet but don't want an onscreen keyboard. Slide out keyboards are popular on cell phones, and ASUS is betting that they'll be just as popular on tablets. The devices will be available in January, May and June respectively.

5. ASUS Eee Slate EP121

You've probably noticed an absence of Windows tablets so far, but Microsoft wasn't entirely missing from the mobile computing space at CES: a number of manufacturers, including Toshiba, Acer and ASUS had Windows 7 devices on display. The pick of the bunch is the ASUS Eee Slate EP121, a 12.1-inch touchscreen device aimed at business users with an Intel Core i5 processor, 4Gb RAM and a 64GB SSD, making it more of a keyboardless laptop than a tablet. Windows 7 could barely be described as a touchscreen tablet OS, so it's perhaps not surprising that ASUS announced a wireless Bluetooth keyboard to go with it as well.

The best smartphones -- mostly 4G -- that generated buzz at CES

Of course it wasn't all about iPad competitors on the floors of CES. Plenty of new mobile handsets were on display, and the buzz was all about 4G -- regardless of the rather limited coverage at the moment and the uncertainty over the sorts of performance levels that can be expected from the various 4G technologies. Motorola featured 4G devices in a big way, as did Verizon -- which is likely to do very well thanks to the much-anticipated CDMA iPhone 4 on its network. And though some industry watchers were dismayed that the iPhone 4 for Verizon will not run on 4G/LTE, Verizon at CES did unveil four new 4G LTE smartphones for its customers to choose from later in the year.

Creating the most interest were:

1. Motorola Atrix 4G

AT&T may be smarting from losing its US monopoly on the iPhone 4 thanks to the imminent arrival of a CDMA model on Verizon, but the carrier looks to have a formidable Android device to tempt its customers in the shape of the Motorola Atrix 4G. It's fully equipped with a 4-inch HD touchscreen, with 960x540 pixels, a 5-megapixel rear camera with LED flash plus another front camera, not to mention 720p video capture and HD video playback, all powered by Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 chipset and Android 2.2. But what's truly unusual about this handset is the Laptop Dock accessory -- a keyboard, screen and battery that looks just like a laptop, but lacks a processor of its own. To use it, you plug the phone into it, and you've got a low-powered laptop with all your phone's data -- not unlike Palm's ill-fated Foleo cell phone companion, and similar in concept to Research In Motion's idea of linking its BlackBerry devices to its forthcoming PlayBook tablet. The Foleo failed, but the Atrix looks strong enough to succeed even if the Laptop Dock idea turns out to be a dud.

2. HTC Thunderbolt

The most exciting Verizon mobile device was without a doubt the HTC Thunderbolt, an Android 2.2 Froyo phone featuring a huge 4.3-inch WVGA screen, an 8-megapixel rear camera (and 1.3-megapixel front camera for video calling) and, if it lives up to its billing, the ability to download at up to 12Mbps and upload at up to 5Mbps using Verizon's 4G LTE network.

3. LG Revolution

Next up is the LG Revolution, another Froyo phone with a 4.3-inch inch screen that looks very much like the LG Optimus 2X. Not much is set in stone as yet, but the phone will feature a 5-megapixel rear and 1.2-megapixel front camera, HDMI out and, of course, the ability to take advantage of the speed of Verizon's 4G LTE network. Which could be handy as LG says the phone will be the first Android device to ship with a Netflix movie application.

4. Motorola Droid Bionic

Not too much is known as yet about Motorola's new 4G LTE Droid Bionic phone for Verizon's network. Once again it's a 4.3-inch screen mobile device -- featuring a qHD display -- and dual core 1GHz processor. On the hardware side it has an HDMI out connector, but it's not yet known which version of Android it will run when it comes out some time this year.

5. Samsung 4G LTE

That just leaves Samsung's 4G/LTE Verizon phone, which as yet has no real name. It sports a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display though, a 1GHz processor powering Android 2.2 , an 8-megapixel rear and a front facing camera.

And last but not least there was even some good news for Windows Phone 7 users at CES. During Steve Ballmer's CES keynote it was revealed that an update to the mobile OS is due in the next couple of months which will include cut-and-paste support as well as faster task switching between mobile apps. And best of all, the update will be pushed out directly to customers phones, so they won't have to wait for their carrier to decide to make it available.


Android, smartphones, CES, Motorola, tablets