Apple's iPad has been the 800-pound gorilla in the tablet market since its 2010 launch, but its price tag of $500 and up is too high for many, and others consider its 10-inch screen a bit bulky. iPad's first real competitor emerged this holiday season, when Amazon debuted the $200 Kindle Fire, a tablet with a 7-inch screen and enhanced video and Web content from previous e-readers.
The Kindle Fire flew off Amazon's virtual shelves, and the market has clearly taken notice. CES saw a barrage of aggressively priced new tablets, many in the more portable, and affordable, 7-inch size.
- My favorite smaller tablet at the show was the Viewsonic ViewPad E70. It boasts a handsome, very responsive touch-screen, flawless video playback and runs Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of the Android operating system. Priced at a comparatively paltry $170 and shipping this spring, the ViewPad E70 also features a built-in front-facing camera, Wi-Fi and a microSD memory card slot that provides up to 32 gigabytes of storage.
- Nvidia's upcoming 7-incher packs the company's latest super-speedy, battery-sipping processor into a nifty model priced at $250.
- Is it a tablet or a smartphone? Samsung's Galaxy Note phone-tablet hybrid, with its 5.3-inch screen, may be tough to slip in your pocket, but it's surprisingly thin (about 1/3 inch wide) and lightweight (about 6 oz.). The sharp screen provides beautiful video and surfing the Web is a breeze on AT&T's fast LTE cellular network. A stylus lets you write on the screen and your writing magically turns into typeface, an interesting alternative to poking at pictures of keys on the screen. And if you prefer larger type than a standard-format phone provides, this one's got you covered.