Meet the Apple iPad’s Competition

MSI's Dual Touchscreen Tablet

MSI's Dual Touchscreen Tablet

Don’t think that the PC-oriented manufacturers are just sitting idly by while Apple takes the tablet world by storm. Oh no, not at all. While some of these tablet-based competitors to the iPad will be running a touch-enabled version of Windows 7, some are gravitating to Google’s Android OS.

Even though Microsoft’s Windows Touch Software for Windows 7 provides the ability to manipulate items on a screen using gestures and up to 100 touch points including single and double taps, dragging, rotating, flicking, zooming in and out, as well as a special tap that equates to a right-click on a mouse, Google’s Android OS has a competitive advantage with its extensive library of mobile apps.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the forthcoming Android and Windows 7 powered tablet line-up for 2010, shall we?

Dell’s Mini 5: With a 5-inch wide screen, slim form-factor and WiFi connectivity, the Dell Mini 5 seems a bit smaller than the iPad, but more easily held in one hand. Sporting a 5-megapixel camera along with a LED flash on the back, the Dell Mini 5 will release with a big competitive advantage over the camera-less iPad.

It even works as a phone with its built-in microphone, but expect to pair it with a Bluetooth headset or risk looking completely ridiculous holding the huge slab up to your ear as you talk.

MSI Dual Screen Tablet: The Company is prepping an Android-based 10-inch touchscreen tablet as well as an intriguing line-up of 7-inch and 10-inch Win 7-based tablets featuring dual touchscreens slated for release in the second half of 2010. Based on NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 processor, MSI plans to build in WiFi connectivity and come priced to start around $500. Both sizes of MSI tablets will feature dual touch screens that fold neatly together.

By default, each screen will be treated independently so that contents from one won’t spill into the other; however an included utility will allow the user to utilize both as one larger screen, effectively doubling the resolution and screen real estate. It remains to be seen what effect dual screens will have on battery life, but it certainly differentiates MSI from the pack.

Google: The maker of the Android OS is widely expected to release its own tablet sometime in the near future. While details are difficult to come by, Google’s emphasis seems to be reading e-books and magazines; however it will most assuredly have access to the Android Marketplace for additional functionality.

And even though the sheer number of apps in Google’s app market is a distant second to Apple’s App Store, Google’s more open-source approach to app acceptance may give it some advantage over Apple’s more iron-fisted approach to approving apps.

HP’s Slate: With the specs leaked by Engadget, HP is apparently another one bucking the Android trend with their own customized flavor of Win7 + HP touch-optimized UI. According to the leaked details, the HP Slate will cost $549, sport a 1.6GHz Atom processor and a 5-hour battery life.

That last item alone makes one wonder how HP expects to compete with the iPad which features a battery life at least twice as strong. The company’s leaked PowerPoint slide seems to suggest that HP considers the Slate’s myriad of ports and onboard 3-megapixel camera to be all the competitive advantage it needs.

While it looks as if a battle for the tablet niche is going to be fierce, Apple has assuredly seized the first to market position and their iPad’s sleek build-quality, uber-long battery life and smooth performance will prove tough to match.

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