Since April of 2010, for most Earthly citizens, the concept of tablet computing has been synonymous with Apple’s iPad. Granted, there are a few other niche devices out there such as the Asus T101MT, and the HP TMT2, but none of the distant cousins have garnered the glory, support, and popularity of the Apple Device. In June, the iPad boasted over 3 million units sold, and Apple expects to sell over 7 million of the tablet computer by the end of the year. With sales soaring, competitors are rushing to hit the market with iPad competitors.
Not every computer company has the name recognition, infrastructure, and marketing muscle to bite into Apple’s substantial lead on market share. Out of the dozens of companies trying to hit the market with tablet and slate devices, only a handful will every make it to fruition, and even fewer will survive to be popular. Unique and useful devices from Toshiba, Blackberry, and Asus stand a chance, while early competitors like the Joo Joo from Fusion Garage seemed destined to fail before they began. By the end of the year, tablets will be everywhere, but the following four competitors have the most to offer and have the best chance to become an “iPad Killer.”
Four Quality iPad Competitors Coming Soon
Asus EeePC EP121 – The EP121, a 12″ tablet computer is due out in early 2011. It is coming with a slew of accessories including a keyboard docking station and case which will enable it to be a decent portable computer. While details on the Asus EeePC Ep121 are thin, Asus has stated that the device will feature an Intel CULV processor, 10 hour battery life, one USB port, and a 12″ cpacitive touch screen. The EP121 will run Windows 7, and therefore have a full catalog of software and productivity applications. With the EeePC experience that Asus brings to the table, the EP121 will be a strong contender at release. Look for it in the first quarter of 2011 for $499.
RIM BlackPad – The name isn’t set in stone, and neither is the product itself, but Reaserch in Motion is planning on capitalizing on its substantial install base of BlackBerry users to pump of sales of its forthcoming BlackBerry Tablet. The RIM BlackPad will be similar in size to the Apple iPad with its 9.7″ screen. Also, like the iPad, the BlackPad will most likely feature a derivative of a phone operating system. The BlackPad will most likely have a similar operating system to the BlackBerry Messaging devices. The device will have both WiFi and Bluetooth radios, and will most likely not feature standard USB ports. Rumored to be $499, the BlackPad will likely appeal to the BlackBerry crowd, which will help it with instant sales. The lack of application support and third-party application support might hold it back.
Toshiba Libretto – The Toshiba Libretto is the least like the iPad in both form and function, and because of that, it might be the most popular iPad alternative. The Libretto is a 7″ tablet device with two “dual touch” screens that fold into a clamshell much like the Nintendo DS. It features a full-blown Windows 7 OS, an Intel processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 62GB SSD. Unfortunately, The Libretto’s impressive features also demand a price tag of $1099, making it nearly $500 more than a comparable iPad. Because the device is expandable through its media card slot, and allows for communication through the webcam and WiFi, it offers some things the iPad just can’t. The price is more than some laptops and desktops, but I am not convinced that the Libretto can replace those devices, and I don’t know if casual users have the money to spend on a secondary computing device.
Toshiba Folio 100 – Another entry by Toshiba that stands to make an impact in the tablet computing world and compete with the Apple iPad is the Toshiba Folio 100. This machine is more traditional then its big, expensive brother the Libretto. The Folio 100 will be a Terga 2 powered device with the Android 2.2. Rounding out the specifications, the Folio 100 will also have 2 USB 2.0 ports, a 10″ capacitive touch screen, SD and MMC card reader, support for 3g and WiFi, and a 1.3 megapixel webcam. The device should be substantially cheaper than Toshiba’s Libretto; most likely, it will cost approximately $499. The strength of Android, the Android application store and the multiple opportunities for expansion make the Toshiba Folio 100 a serious contender.