Apparently what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas, as is the case with every CES show. Tech journalists can’t wait to spill the beans and tell all. The city of sin wrought inspiration and wonderment to discerning techies with a wealth of truly compelling devices and tech concepts. This show hit on many themes, the most of which were centered on gaming, advancements in cloud computing tech, and of course, touch-friendly tablets.
Tablets have been a pervading theme at CES for the last 4 years. Yet only now are these devices really coming into their own, stepping into a new realm and away from being merely diminutive and restricting laptop alternatives. It all points to a grim outlook for the once almighty iPad, the former definitive tablet on the market. While the fondle-friendly window from Cupertino still astounds–especially with the Retina Display’s jaw-dropping resolution–the iPad is far from the only premium high end choice for discerning users and their mobile computing needs.
The heat is turning up all around the iPad and CES 2013 gave a us a glimpse at some of the best mobile devices to watch, all of which are coming to eager fondlers this year and beyond. First up…
Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table Tablet
This one was a showstopper for CES attendees. With a course set in the exact opposite direction as the iPad mini, The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table is a 27-inch tablet, weighing 17lbs–ooF! That’s beefy. The entire device is only 1.1-inches thick. At those dimensions, you don’t want to pick this thing up a lot. In fact it’s meant to be on, or even in a table for multi-user multi-touch input (up to 10 fingers at once). The inner muscle includes: support for 1080p resolution; 3rd generation Intel Core i7; Windows 8 Pro (with proprietary UI options); a short 2hr battery life; 1tb HDD and up to 8GB of DDR3 memory. Lenovo also plans to release three exclusive gaming accessories to enhance the gaming experience on the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon
Archos 97 Titanium HD
We took the previous Archos 101 XS tablet for a well-received spin. Though it did have its drawbacks and suffered from an unappealing look and plastic feel, it was a solid performer and cost-effective mobile computing option. Now Archos is reviving the entire line, which we mentioned last week. One of the standout products to watch from this new line is the Archos 97 Titanium HD tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The 97 Titanium HD kicks out an impressive 2048 x 1536 HD resolution across its 9.7 (get it?) inch HD display. Powering it all is a Dual-Core A9 CPU (1.6GHz) with a Quad-Core GPU Mali 400 MP4, 1GB RAM, support for all major video codecs, WiFi and weighs less than 2lbs.
Vizio Tegra 4
Nvidia made quite an impression on us and many other seemingly startstruck journalists with several announcements. One of which was focused on their new superpowered Tegra 4 chip for mobile computing. This new chip is the brawn behind Vizio’s new 10-inch and 7-inch Tegra 4-based tablets. The 10-inch model is the looker. It’s rocking Android Jelly Bean, supports 2560 x 1600 resolution across the IPS panel type, 32GB of internal memory, and dual cameras (5- and 1.3 megapixel). These tablets are some of the first to utilize a softer rubbery finish. Pricing and availability are TBD.
Panasonic Toughpad G1
Panasonic isn’t new to tablets but they haven’t exactly been setting the world alight with their previous offerings. This year’s CES saw the company hitting the show floor with a couple surprises. First is the Panasonic Toughpad G1. This a new entry in the company’s Toughpad line of rugged devices and is aimed more at business class market such as construction, healthcare, and other field services like search and rescue, armed service, etc. It features a 10.1-inch display, runs Windows 8 and utilizes an Intel Ivy Bridge i5 processor. Get tasks done over the duration with the lofty 8.5 -hr battery life. the Toughpad resists dust, can survive grueling drops and is waterproof.
Microsoft Surface Pro
Here we have the follow up to Microsoft’s Surface RT, which was met with lackluster enthusiasm last Summer. This new Windows 8 tablet/laptop hybrid, set to launch next week is the Microsoft Surface Pro with 10.6 inch display. This one runs Windows Pro and costs nearly twice as much ($900 vs. $500). But this Surface can actually run the millions of existing Windows applications (like a new OS should) without the need of an assisting app, which was the crippling crutch for the initial RT model. However the unit is bulkier, with more weight to it than its predecessor. It runs desktop applications over a touch-friendly iPad-style experience. Attach an external monitor and you have a fully working PC in a touch tablet, with full PC gaming capabilities. More original features include a comfortable stylus with tactile eraser that connects magnetically to the tablet. The display supports 1080p and 10-points of touch. It comes in 64gb and 128GB of flavored memory. Full spec sheet found here!
Alcatel One Touch Tab 8
While Alcatel may not be a name synonymous with high end mobile devices, that fact is not stopping the company from investing much in said sector. At CES they touted a number of wares, both tablet and Smartphones. But we’re peering into the Touch Tab 8. It’s an elegant, sophisticated-looking device that supports 1024 x 768 over its 8-inch IPS panel type. There are two lower megapixel cameras, one rear-facing and the other on the front. The Touch Tab 8 is another Android tablet running 4.1 Jelly Bean, with a dual-core 1.6GHz processor, 1Gb of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a MicroSD slot for expanded storage options. This budget level entry will not hit the US market until Q3 2013. It’s scheduled for an attractive MSRP of $179.
Acer Iconia B1-A71
The street will soon flow with the synthetic blood of Androids, for they are now legion. The show in Vegas held no dearth of Android enabled devices. The Acer Iconia B1-A71 is not a Star Wars droid. It’s a new Jelly Bean equipped Android device. The Specs will not dazzle but the low cost can get the uninitiated mobile/tablet user on the ground floor starting at a mere $155. One of the more noteworthy aspects of this tablet is that it’s not coming to US shores–at least not yet. It will ship in markets where the greatly similar Nexus 7 are not available like, EU, Middle East and Africa. This could be a great tablet to get kids in on the whole mobile computing thing if peanut butter and jelly on your new iPad 4 is just très gauche for you.
Samsung Ativ Smart PC
This one is another Windows 8 tablet/laptop hybrid. It’s thin and convertible design is inline with other similar showings at CES. It wields an Intel Atom Proecessor Z2760, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (specs of which are TBD) and a surprising 14.5-hour battery life. The display size is 11.6 inches making it one of the more original display sizes, capable of 1366 x 768. It features a 2-megapixel front facing camera and 8-megapixel camera on its posterior. It weighs less than 2-lbs and services wireless connections via Bluetooth, Wireless LAN and 4G/LTE and 3G option network service.
Panasonic 4K Tablet
This was one of the stunning breakout hopefuls of the show. No one was expecting Panasonic to show up with a massive 20-inch 4k tablet. The beast from Panasonic runs Windows 8, supports touch and stylus inputs, and seizes the senses with an unheard-of 3840 x 2560 4K resolution across its IPS Alpha panel type. This resolution can easily digest A3-sized paper, rendering that ideal for reading literature as well as watching movies in unprecedented vibrancy. Would you believe the thing only weighs just over 5-lbs? Exact specifications, pricing and availability are still TBD. More on this one as it develops.
Razer Edge Pro Gaming Tablet
I saved this one for obvious reasons. We’ve reported and mentioned it several times over the last week. It’s arguably the most powerful consumer level tablet known to man. The Razer Edge Pro gaming tablet is like no other. Lets recap, shall we? The Edge Pro tablet has a 10.1 IPS panel display with 10-points of touch. The resolution is 1366 x 768 resolution and 1080p over HDMi out connection. It’s running Windows 8, has Intel i5/i7 upt 1.9GHz (turbo to 3.0GHz), 4-8GB of memory and a DX11 capable 640M gpu + Intel’s HD400 integrated GPU. I was surprised to see a full Solid State Drive inside capable of 256GB (SATA III). Razer Edge Pro is not meant to replace your desktop. But it can replicate full desktop capabilities on the go through a host of aftermarket Razer accessories.
Nvidia Project Shield
Now this last is obviously not a tablet. Or is it?! It looks like a controller with an Android-powered tablet-like “something” attached to it. That’s exactly the idea behind the Nivida Project Shield! The name is not set in stone, but the allure and our intrigue are. This one too, also has the new Tegra 4 mobile processor inside. Running on Android, the shield has access to all that is Android– familiar and reliable functionality and the healthy Android Play marketplace for apps, games, and more. It supports 4K display resolutions but handles 720p very nicely right there on its 5-inch display. Connectivity options include HDMI, Ethernet, MicroSD, WiFI and 3G/4G connection speeds. The thing also supports Valve’s Steam digital distribution marketplace for games and software as well as Tegra Zone marketplace. It can even take advantage of Nvidia’s own revolutionary new Cloud Gaming initiative. There is a lot here and and even more to marvel at with Project Shield. It’s a radical departure from convention. This is a true mobile device with incredible implications for gamers. You can stream content wirelessly from your PC and pipe it out to a 1080p HD display/TV, also wirelessly. It’s even rocking out with Beats audio tech baked in. If there was ever one to watch, it’s this potential game changer.