December 12th - 2010

WIRED OFFICE: iPads and PlayBooks and Slates, oh my!

With the holiday season coming there has been much ado about a new breed of technology currently being referred to as the digital tablet.

With the holiday season coming there has been much ado about a new breed of technology currently being referred to as the digital tablet. While tablet computers equipped with a stylus rather than a keyboard for data entry have existed for years, this new breed of tablet or “slate” is a combination of a smart phone (without the calling capability), e-reader and netbook.

The new tablets are larger than a smartphone, smaller than a netbook and more functional than an e-reader. Most are designed to be a single slab (thus the term “slate”) and use touch for data entry. Add-on keyboards as well as countless other accessories are available.

Apple’s iPad was the first to the market -- attractive, beautiful image quality, and selling as quickly as retailers could stock it. The negative aspects: no camera, no Flash and no multi-tasking. So what does one do with an iPad? For starters, all of those apps that you have on your iPod and/or iPhone can be used on the iPad. New apps designed to take advantage of the generously sized iPad screen are being added to the iTunes store daily. The iPad is great for viewing video, browsing photos, listening to music, reading e-books, surfing the net, and utilizing your apps anywhere, anytime. All iPads come with Wi-Fi. There is also a 3G version which you can activate on either the Rogers or Bell networks in Canada.

The BlackBerry PlayBook is expected to be available in early 2011. The PlayBook may be used for entertainment purposes (i.e. viewing video, browsing photos, etc.), but it is also a productivity tool for the business user. The PlayBook is powered by a new operating system known as the BlackBerry Tablet OS which gives you the ability to multitask. The PlayBook supports Adobe Flash. It has dual HD cameras which can capture video as well as still photos. You can also connect to your BlackBerry smartphone using a Bluetooth connection. This means you can view the content of your smartphone on a larger screen and won’t need to have a laptop with you at all times. Your data, of course, will be secure.

The HP Slate 500 is being touted as the ideal tool for on-the-go professionals who need to be productive in a secure Windows® environment. You can check email; browse the internet; and write, edit and view documents, spreadsheets and presentations. You can also conduct web conferences using the webcam. The HP Slate 500 also has access to Windows apps making it more about productivity than entertainment.

Video conference, navigate using Google Maps, read books, newspapers and magazines and browse the web with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. One of the smaller and lighter tablets, it runs the Android operating system (Google’s smartphone OS). Apps are being added to the Android store daily. Samsung has created its own apps designed to take advantage of the Galaxy Tab’s display, including email, calendar and Media Hub - Samsung’s movie and TV store/player where you can purchase videos from MTV, Universal and Paramount.

The ExoPC Slate, a Windows 7-based tablet, is currently receiving a lot of good press. It allows you to browse the web, play games, watch TV and movies, listen to music, read the news, read books and magazines, organize your photos, download apps, view RSS feeds, access real-time weather, create and edit spreadsheets, author documents, and more. It is at the larger end of the scale for tablets.

By no means conclusive, this list summarizes some of the specifications for the tablets discussed here. While not all of these tablets are currently available, they will be within the next few months.

  Apple iPad Blackberry Playbook  HP Slate   Samsung Galaxy Tab Exo PC Slate 
Screen Size 9.7"  7"  8.9"  7"  11.6" 
Screen Resolution  1024 x 768  1024 x 600  1024 x 600  1024 x 600 1366 x 768 
(h x w x d)
 7.47" x 9.56" x 0.5"  5.1" x 7.6" x 0.4"  5.91" x 9.21" x 0.58"  4.7" x 7.4" x 0.47" 7.7" 11.6" x 0.55 

1.5 lbs (Wi-Fi model)

1.6 lbs (Wi-Fi 3G model) 


 0.9 lbs  Starting at 1.5 lbs  0.83 lbs 2.09 lbs 
Operating System  iPhone OS  Blackberry Table OS  Windows 7  Android 2.2  Windows 7
Browser  Mobile Sarafi  Your choice  Your choice  Android Your choice 
Adobe Flash Support  No Yes   Yes Yes  Yes 
Applications  iTunes Store  Blackberry App World™  Windows apps  Android Market Your choice 
Camera  No  Yes  Yes Yes  Yes
Storage  16, 32 or 64 GB  TBA Up to 64 GB  16 GB  32 or 64 GB 
Wireless Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth  Wi-Fi,
Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth  Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth 
Multitasking  No  Yes  Yes Yes  Yes 
Battery Life  10 hours  TBA  5 hours TBA  4 hours 
Price  $549-$879  Under $500 TBA  $649-675  TBA 

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