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01/08/2011

CES: Tablets, PCs or e-Readers? How about all of them!

Xoom Apple, which sold over seven million iPads through September of last year, is expected to sell 28 million of the coveted devices in 2011, up from an estimated 22 million.

The technology darling created a market that wasn’t there a year ago, which put their competitors in a position of playing catch-up. But if there’s a takeaway from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, it’s this: the tablet market will heat up significantly in 2011.

Every computer manufacturer worth their salt has a computer tablet on display here in Las Vegas. But instead of simply offering pale imitations of the IPad, these companies are empowering consumers by offering devices that suit their particular needs, if not raising the bar in the category significantly.

Rather than simply deciding between a PC or laptop like they’ve done in the past, consumers will now have to ask what they’re truly looking for in a device. Want to read newspapers, magazines and books? Maybe an e-reader will suffice. Want this, plus the ability to check out Facebook and view videos? Maybe it’s a tablet you’re after.

If it’s anything more sophisticated, such as video editing and picture re-touching, then you’ll have to start weighing processing options, according to Kari Aakre from Intel. “It’s when you start to look at these things that core processing becomes a real issue,” she suggested.

But manufacturers will make this decision, which carries price if not size issues, a difficult one. One of the devices up for ‘Best of CES’ this year is the Razer Switchblade, a concept tablet on the Windows platform geared towards gamers. Meanwhile, HP, RIM and others are eyeing growth from business users with their corporate slates, which offer more traditional business applications.

Mobile phone maker Motorola, which has jumped on the tablet bandwagon with the launch of the Xoom at this year’s show, sees these devices as a natural extension of smartphones. “We’re changing peoples’ perception of what a phone is,” says Motorola’s Andrew Wells. Their Atrix smartphone on the Android platform, which offers a lapdock accessory allowing users greater flexibility with their phones as well as the ability to transmit to their TVs, will be made available in Canada by Bell. 

Device makers hope to force consumers to put an iPad purchase under the microscope. With all the options available, might this must-have device be to limiting?

-- James Havers, from CES in Las Vegas

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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