Toshiba is preparing to release its first tablet for the U.S. market at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, the Associated Press has reported.
Tentatively called the Toshiba Tablet, the device features a 10.1-inch display and runs Android 2.4-known as "Honeycomb"-an operating system designed specifically with tablet functionality in mind.
While Google has yet to get specific about the updates to Honeycomb, Andy Rubin, Google's head of mobile, said in a meeting in December that "Honeycomb will enable applications to have multiple views and present information differently, depending on whether they're running on a phone or a tablet," according to AP.
With the Tablet, Toshiba appears to be making an effort to compete with the Apple iPad and improve on the Folio-its initial, quick response to the burgeoning tablet market. However, the device has suffered from so many issues that some retailers in the United Kingdom actually pulled it from their shelves. (The Folio recently received a firmware update that's said to solve many, but not all, of its issues.)
The Tablet is expected to be slightly larger and heavier than the iPad-1.7 pounds and just over half an inch thick, versus the iPad's firm 0.5 inches and 1.5 pounds. It will reportedly run Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 chip and offer only WiFi connectivity at first, with carrier deals (and so wireless broadband connectivity) expected to follow. Battery life-a far cry from the iPad's 10-plus hours-is said to clock in at seven hours.
Besting the iPad, however, it'll have two cameras-a 5-megapixel model on the back and a 2-megapixel model up front-and run Adobe's Flash. GPS and Bluetooth will be included, and so will a mini USB port and SD memory card slot, as well as full-size USB and HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) ports. The display will also support high-definition video viewing at a resolution of 1080p.
Ergonomics are said to be improved since the Folio. There's a rubberized back for easy gripping; a glossy, black front; and a replaceable rear plate for customizing the Tablet's appearance.
As for pricing, that, too, is not yet firmly settled, reports AP, though the device should be "competitive with the iPad," which ranges from $499 for the 16GB, WiFi-only model to $829 for the highest-end version, with 64GB of memory and both WiFi and 3G connectivity.
Toshiba should have lots of company in introducing a tablet at CES. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to introduce several Windows 7-running tablets, including models from Samsung and Dell.
Market research firm iSuppli expects shipments of tablets to reach 43.7 million in 2011, before climbing to 63.3 million in 2012. According to The New York Times, Ballmer may also show off a model running Windows 8.
ViewSonic is also expected to introduce a hybrid Android-running smartphone/tablet that can support 4G connectivity, and Motorola is likely to unveil a tablet, teasingly shown off late in 2010, that will also run Honeycomb. Hewlett-Packard will soon also be contributing to the tablet market-likely in the March timeframe-and so will Research In Motion, though May is said to be more likely.
While Toshiba will introduce the Tablet in January, writes AP, it won't become available until June.