Tablets everywhere at CES but iPad is still ahead

THE world’s largest trade show focusing on consumer electronics has just taken place in Las Vegas and again Apple was nowhere to be found but still everywhere.

Published: Sat 15 Jan 2011, 11:02 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:04 PM

CES, or Consumer Electronics Show, has been running since 1967 and the number of attendees this year is expected to be significantly higher than the 120,000 who walked the CES floor in 2010.

A show like CES has too many new gadgets and gizmos to cover in a brief article like this. In fact, we could fill an entire issue of this newspaper and we would still only have scratched the surface of what’s happening at CES. To put it briefly, CES is one massive show all about consumer technology.

This was my second year at CES and it’s an overwhelming experience. One thing that struck me already last year and it’s also true now is how present Apple is without being present. See, Apple Inc. does not exhibit at CES but yet they are on everyone’s mind when they look at other products and Apple is mentioned in more conversations between exhibitors and visitors than we can even guess.

This year the big thing at CES was tablets. It seemed like everyone was introducing tablets and it’s models of different sizes, with different processors, different operating systems, etc. Clearly, not all tablets that are coming to market now are going to make the headlines but some show real promise, like Motorola’s Xoom and RIM’s Playbook. However, what all these tablets really show me is how way ahead of the competition Apple was when they introduced iPad about a year ago.

Take Microsoft as an example. At CES in 2010 many tablet concepts were shown, including one Windows-running HP tablet, which Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer displayed at his keynote. That HP tablet has only now materialised and it was available to try at this year’s show. My brief experience with it is that in hardware it’s nice: nice touch feeling, fast, and solid to hold and operate. However, Windows 7 is very far from being suitable for touch control using your fingers, so Microsoft has a lot of work left to do in that area.

It’s a bit better in the Android camp with Motorola being first out of the gate with Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” made especially for tablets. Samsung Galaxy Tab has been sold for a while now but it runs Android 2.2, which was never built for tablets. There’s also MeeGo, the partnership between Intel and Nokia, waiting to come out on tablets and other devices, which is showing a lot of promise.

Apple’s competitors are catching up and coming up with very interesting options for consumers, in terms of specifications, design and functionality. If you’re in the market for a tablet the next few months are going to be very interesting. Throw in to the mix that Apple is expected to launch the second generation of iPad soon and the tablet is set to be the hot consumer electronics product of 2011.

Magnus Nystedt is a frequent technology commentator and blogger. You can read more of Magnus’ work at

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