Apple’s iPad has arrived, but what about the competition?


You cannot move for iPad news on the internet right now. Anyone would have thought that after the buying, unboxing, breaking, using and the odd blending video on the net, we have little else to think about.  

Well, you’d be wrong. 

In a recent Forbes interview, ASUS Chairman, Jonney Shih, has stated that there are “at least two” tablets on the way from ASUS in the coming months. Forbes goes on to claim that Computex 2010 in June seems like a good time to launch them, as ASUS originally used the show to unveil its industry changing Eee PC products back in 2007. 

Netbooks are the best combination of personal computing and cloud computing, but between netbooks, smartphones and e-readers, we think there will be a space for something like a tablet or slate PC.” Shih comments. 

Of the two designs, Shih points out that both the Google Chrome OS as well as the usual Microsoft Windows OS are possible options, of which we can infer that both Intel Atom and ARM designs are likely. The Atom product with its Microsoft OS should be fuller featured, but we expect a weightier design to make up for the  inevitable bigger battery, because while the Atom processor is faster, it’s also hungrier.  

On the other hand, Google’s Chrome OS is configured for ARM CPUs – of which the Apple iPad also uses a derivative of – and is still fully capable of the usual gaming and media functions, but often multitasking between applications is limited. 

Just like its notebooks and netbooks, ASUS products are typically always been better value than Apple too, while retaining the high level of engineering quality you’d expect, so it’ll be interesting to see the competitive designs. 

Another stylish alternative is the Microsoft Courier tablet, that uses dual 7″ touchscreen displays like a book, although it’s still firmly in the design stages.

The question often remains then, when is a tablet better than a laptop? 

For starters, if you are a traveller they are far easier to watch on planes, trains or buses when the seat in front is inevitably rammed back as far as it’ll go, and they are thinner and lighter to pack into hand luggage too. 

At home, they shouldn’t make you suffer a hot lap when you sit in bed or on the couch, and with all the comics, news, and books coming to the platform it’s ideal for reading. That is if the display choice is correct: OLED or a gentle backlight are better here people! 

Finally there’s the huge school and business application. It’s neater to slide into a bag and the paper-esq use means it’s also more convenient than a notebook in some circumstances: coupled with an acutely sensitive touch screen, the interface means drawing diagrams or writing scientific and mathematical formula is far, far easier. 

It won’t sway everyone from their laptops or netbooks, but the tablet offers a dimension of freedom not yet enjoyed by the traditional mobile formula, although it has been setup by the recent smartphone revolution. Now we just have to wait and see what competitive tablets ASUS’ engineers come up with!

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