As Apple apparently prepares to go small with the iPad Mini, every other tablet maker is going large, bringing out tablets that dwarf the 9.7-inch iPad. All can render web sites, maps and business dashboards gorgeously, without taxing the arm strength of the user (well, in most cases).
Not only are tablet makers going big, but they are also bringing back the convertible tablet-laptop, but under a new name, ‘laptablet’. They hope that technical and weightsaving advances in touchscreens, chips and batteries, along with Windows 8′s mobile-oriented overhaul will finally attract customers – especially enterprises overwhelmed by the iOS-led BYOD invasion.
Here are 17 of the most interesting tablets available today.
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The HP Envy x2 is a 11.6-inch convertible Windows 8 tablet. The aluminum-encased keyboard doubles the Envy’s “all day” battery life and is removable – hence, convertible – and gives it a near MacBook Pro-like appearance (hence, the envy). The Intel Atom Clover Trail processor (dual-core 1.8 GHz), 2 GB RAM, 8 megapixel rear camera, 64 GB SSD are firmly middle of the range, as is the 1366×768 multi-touch capacitive display. No price yet.
Another Windows 8/Intel Clover Trail convertible with a 11.6-inch, 1366×768 screen, there are a few things that distinguish Vivo Tab from the rest of the pack: a Wacom active digitizer for drawing with a stylus, NFC technology and Asus’ recent success with making bigger hybrid tablets (the Transformer line). The price (sans $199 keyboard/battery) may be $799 (a 10-inch Nvidia Tegra 3 counterpart may be $599).
Having used my share of Dell laptops, I’m instinctively wary, but this XPS Duo 12 laptablet looks awesome. Gizmodo agrees. The flip hinge lets your 12.5-inch, 1920-x1080 display rotate 180 degrees to switch between modes. There’s Corning Gorilla Glass on the screen, and aluminum and carbon fiber on the case. Windows 8 and Intel Core i3/5/7 guts, along with weight that, like the Lenovo X23T, that will be closer to an actual Ultrabook or laptop. No price yet.
For everyone pining for a larger tablet from Apple, the ModBook Pro is here - a 13.3-inch (1280×800) tablet running Mac OS X. The mysterious makers of the ModBook seem to convert MacBook Pros by hand – every order takes 6-8 weeks, and you can even buy their conversion kits if you feel like doing it yourself. My colleague Tony Kueh jokes that the ModBook Pro, which uses a stylus, not touch, for input, should’ve been “codenamed: Newton.” The specs are powerful – 2.5-2.9 GHz Core i5/i7 processor, up to 16 GB of RAM and up to 480 GB of SSD storage. You can also get Windows 7 preinstalled. The prices are commensurate, starting at $3,499 and going up to $4,819. U.S. customers-only starting in mid-November.
How do you offer a tablet with 32% more pixels than the iPad 3′s Retina Display? By offering two 1920×1080 screens (total > 4 million+ pixels) like the Asus Taichi does. Talk about flexible-the Taichi is an ultrabook AND a dual-display tablet in one, with a 13.3-inch screen and a second 11.6-inch one). Why two displays? Asus says this could be for two workers, or to better share slideshows or presentations. The $1,299 price is more than double an iPad 3, but this is a Windows 8 tablet running the a high-end Intel Core i7 chip. Expect your company’s alpha dog salespeople to clamor for the Taichi.
If there is a Guinness Book of World Records entry for Largest Tablet, the Sony VAIO Tap20 would be it. This is basically an all-in-one Windows 8 PC with a 20-inch, 1600×900 capacitive 10-point multitouch screen. But…it actually has a built-in battery with an alleged life of 3.5 hours. At its size (140 sq. inches, 11.4 pounds), you’ll probably only lug it around your home or office, setting it up in flat or reclining mode (with the rear kickstand). Specs are full PC-like, with your choice of Intel Core i3 to i7 processors, 8 GB RAM and up to 1 TB hard drive space. Alas, you pay for what you get, with a Japan price of between $1,800 to $2,300.
The practical little brother of the Tap 20, the VAIO Duo 11 is a 11.6-inch, 1920×1080 Windows 8 tablet with a slide-out keyboard (and stylus) that weighs a very Ultrabook-like 2.6 pounds. The Duo packs a punch – Intel Core i3 5 or 7 chips, up to 256 GB SSD, and HDMI and USB 3.0 ports. And like most VAIOs, it’s a handsome piece of kit. However, expect to pay just as handsomely. One report has the DUO’s European price starting at 1199 Euros ($1,550) for the entry-level i3 version.
The Toshiba U920T is another larger-than-iPad laptablet running Windows 8. So why does one magazine call it the “best laptablet yet”? Well, there’s the 12.5 inch screen, bigger than many of its immediate, business-oriented competitors (though the resolution remains just 1366 x 768, or one-third the iPad 3). More impressive are the Core i3/i5 chips, 4 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD round out the U920T. Expect a $1,000-something price.
For years, Lenovo was the lonely standardbearer for the convertible tablet/notebook category, its ThinkPad X-series selling well enough for the company to keep making them. How is Lenovo reacting to the sudden rush of competitors? Without panic, if the X230T is any judge. The X230T looks like its predecessors. It is a comparatively chunky (4 pounds, 1.2-inches thick) but, encased in magnesium alloy, screams durability – a plus for enterprise IT. The 12.5-inch, 1366×768 screen is reportedly outdoor-readable. There are ports aplenty and, for about $1,300, a Intel Core i5 processor. If you trust experience over flash, the X230T may be the way to go.
Not a tablet itself, the MMT Monitor2Go is a multi-touch, 15.6 LED display that you can carry around as a second screen to your tablet. The company calls the 3-lb Monitor2Go perfect for business presentations, and I can see that. Both are connected via HDMI or USB, and have a slot to insert an iPad 2 or 3. The $299 model has 1366×768 resolution. I’d pay $30 more for the 1600×900 version.
Maybe Japanese engineers have gotten tired with miniaturizing gadgets, because here is the 2nd tablet-like device greater than 20-inches coming from the island. The maker is Frontier, and the product is the 21.5-inch, 11 lb. Frontier FT103. The FT103 runs Android 4.0 ICS, and the resolution is 1920×1080. But the rest of the specs are lackluster – 1 GHz dual-core ARM chip, 8 GB flash storage. And unlike the Sony VAIO Tap 20, there doesn’t seem to be a battery. Hmm, maybe it is, as the makers call it, just a “SmartDisplay.” The Frontier costs just US$440, which is good, since you’ll need that money to pay for your flight to Japan to buy it, and all of the chiropractic work afterwards.
Another high-end Windows 8 tab-laptop, the Iconia Tab W700 has a 11.6-inch screen with a 1920×1080 display, Intel Core i5 1.7 GHz chip, 128 GB SSD, 8 hours of battery life, Dolby Home Theater sound and Micro HDMI and USB 3.0 ports. That configuration will cost $999. A Core i3-based version will be $200 less.
Archos is the French answer to low-cost consumer electronics makers like Coby, focusing on media players and tablets. The coming FamilyPad is a 13.3-inch (1280 x 800) Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablet with a single-core 1 GHz Cortex-A8 chip, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB of storage and front and rear 2 megapixel cameras. Weak specs in this day and age, but expect a sub-$200 price to entice customers at the Walmart.
Koegler Electronics is a small, Taiwan-based company with the big dream of creating the first wearable tablet. Imagine a 1920×1080 20-inch LCD tablet that rests on a…oh heck, just look at the picture. Not the slickest-looking device, but it does make the user of Koegler potentially hands-free. This could definitely have some enterprise applications. So if you’ve got $5 million or so to spare, why not Kickstart this venture?
Fujitsu is the Lenovo of Europe – a firm enterprise vendor who never stopped making convertible tablet/laptops. Their Stylistic Q702 is their entry in the high-end Windows 8 category – 11.6-inch (1920×1080) screen and a Core i3/i5 chip in a 1.88 lb. package. Like the Lenovo X230T, the Stylistic comes with a bunch of enterprise management and security features, and its touchscreen supports 10-point multitouch as well as a stylus. Expect enterprise-type prices.