Tablets! Tablets tablets tablets. They're the hot ticket at this year's CES. Just about everyone's got one (not that everyone should). We've parsed, prodded, and played with the main contenders. And this one's best. Well, these ones.
It's been a too-long wait for a usable 10-inch Android tablet, much less one that makes us blush. But the Xoom looks like the platonic ideal of a Honeycomb slate: dual-core 1GHz processor, 2-megapixel front camera, 5-megapixel rear camera and 1280x800 display. And did I mention she's a looker? Xoom's at the head of what's soon to be a very large pack right now, but it's hard to grant it a clear-cut victory based on promise alone. Until Google's tablet-friendly OS makes the scene, we won't know what it's like to actually use Xoom.
But you know what's here, right now, running Quake 3 in 1080 and a slideshow at the same time without breaking a sweat? BlackBerry's business-minded PlayBook tablet. It's 7 inches of wow, with an OS that purrs and hardware—a pixel-dense 1024x600 display, 5MP rear and 3MP front-facing cameras, dual-core 1GHz processor—that keeps up with just about anybody. And while there's nothing flashy about the design, it's got the kind of perfectly competent, sturdy build you'd want for a business tablet. So why is PlayBook not a winner? Well, we're still not entirely sold on the 7-inch screen, and BlackBerry's got a long ways to go before its app cupboard doesn't feel so bare. But in terms of tablets you can use, right now, here at CES? It's tops.
Asus Eee Pad Slider
We're into the Asus Eee Pad Slider mostly for the sheer audacity of it. It's a 10.1-inch tablet that goes the Tegra 2 route, meaning it'll have plenty of graphics horsepower. Oh, and if you want a physical keyboard? It's lurking right there beneath the display, just waiting to slide out. Unfortunately that sliding mechanism's a little jerky right now, and while the form is decidedly different, I'm not ready to say that it's better. Not just yet, anyway.
Dell Streak 7
The 7-inch version of Dell's Streak has all the guts of a show pony—Tegra 2 processor, a 1.3MP front and 5MP rear camera—but the real story is that Streak 7 is the first tablet that can tap into T-Mobile's 4G wonderspeeds. Even if you love a 7-inch slate, though Streak's going to be hobbled, at least at first, by running Android Froyo instead of Honeycomb, and by a WVGA screen that'll seem a little dull next to its sharper competitors.
T-Mobile G-Slate: Will the G Slate be to Honeycomb what the G1 was to early builds of Android? There's not a ton of info about T-Mobile's flagship slate (built by LG) available yet, but it could well end up being the purest expression of an Android tablet we'll see in the coming months.
Lenovo LePad: Lenovo's Honeycomb tablet has pumped-up specs all its own, but what's especially intriguing about the 10-inch slate is its U1 dock, that turns it into a decent little Windows 7 notebook.