Attack of the Tablets

If you have been following the tech news today, details about two of the more significant tablets come to surface today in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the BlackBerry PlayBook. The timing was good as the international pricing for the Apple iPad 2 was also released.

As far as Australia goes, the iPad 2 is going to be a little bit cheaper than the original iPad but still a sizeable difference in price against the USA pricing given the parity of our currencies. Sure, the gap closes between Australia and the USA when you take into account the taxes that come into effect in the two countries but there is still a difference. Furthermore, the prospect of the iPad 2 is not that compelling for those who have the original especially given the mediocre cameras that are included (0.92MP on the back and 0.3MP on the front – room to move for iPad 3, anyone?). The iPad is being released this Friday which gives it a slight head start on the competition.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be available in mid-April through Vodafone in Australia either outright (for $729) or for $259. This makes Samsung’s offering identically priced for the equivalent iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G model and addresses a commonly shared view that the original Samsung Galaxy Tab was overpriced for what it offered against the original iPad. The Tab 10.1 also offers a higher resolution screen as well as higher resolution front and rear cameras and matches a lot of the features of the iPad including 802.11n support, GSM & 3G connectivity plus SMS, MMS and (if the specs looks correct) the ability to make and receive phone calls.

Sure, you won’t be holding this up to your ear to talk but you might get away with holding it like a boom box.

The BlackBerry PlayBook is also making a pitch for the Wi-Fi only tablet market at the $499, $599 and $699 price points for 16GB, 32GB and 64GB of storage respectively (matching the iPad 2 pricing in the USA). Like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, this turns the heat up a bit on Apple as price is now taken out of  the equation. The PlayBook does come in a bit smaller though at seven inches whilst it packs two 1080p cameras (the front camera being 3MP and the rear camera being 5MP) plus 802.11n Wi-Fi. The thing that may be a deal breaker is that the PlayBook has no option for 3G connectivity which means it would need to be tethered to a mobile phone (such as a BlackBerry). Other than that, the specifications are close to identical.

Whilst Apple may have a lead in this tablet market I believe it has woken up the tech companies from their slumber and I guess instilled a sense of pride and innovation that has been missing for a long time. Even Nokia has been victim to this behaviour as it churned out feature phones with varying combinations of features but never anything that consolidated the best of what it had to offer in a meaningful way.

If you’re in the market for a tablet you might do well to wait a little bit and see what Samsung and BlackBerry have to offer – we might all be pleasantly surprised (otherwise we’ll be bitterly disappointed that these companies have wasted a prime opportunity to lay a few body blows to Apple).

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