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Alex Fergusson

Prediction for the top selling tablets in 2011 - how did we do? 

OK, so 2011 is over now - quite some time ago, I suppose - but at least we can look back and see how well we did. Some people may be considering buying one of these second hand, and it's interesting to know what we thought of them when they first came out. But for now, here are the original words, updated slightly to correct small issues...

The list is in the form of a top ten - because it's kind of traditional, and because we marketing types rarely get beyond ten - in fact we're a bit wobbly above about five, but here goes anyway.

[Clicking on the title for each slate will get you to the appropriate tab to see its specifications on our comparison table.]

10) Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

What we said: Samsung gained plenty of good experience getting Android to go properly with the original 7" Tab. It stands a good chance of being able to dominate with this, sized in-between the iPad and the almost-pocketable 7" slates. On the downside, it looks likely that Samsung will repeat its main mistake made with the earlier model - expecting people to buy accessories which only work with its special connector.
Update: Sadly, domination proved elusive. Samsung's in-betweener has been less popular than its 10.1. At around £300, maybe we expect smaller to be cheaper? Still, it could be worth a look second hand.

9) Acer Iconia A500 (10")Acer Iconia A500

What we said: The Acer Iconia came out hot on the heels of the not-so-well-received Motorola Xoom and my guess ("prediction") is that the Xoom will just get squeezed out of the top ten. This Iconia is cheaper and it comes better set up for memory cards and USB flash memory.  This, and avoiding the negative publicity which comes with being the first to market using the new, and not quite ready Honeycomb version of Android, should put the Iconia ahead of the Xoom in the end.
Update: The A500 feels a bit clunky now, but it has good connectors. It proved more popular than the Xoom, as expected. Both can be improved with an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich.

8) HTC Flyer (7")

What we said: The Flyer uses the older Froyo version of Android. It's better tested, though, and the Flyer should put in a pretty polished performance when it finally arrives. The price currently looks a bit steep but here's hoping it drops a bit over the next few weeks. The Flyer also has a unique selling point (USP): it comes with a capacitive stylus which allows you to annotate pages and keep a range of highlighted notes. There have been rumours that the stylus could be sold separately, but doing this would probably scupper the Flyer's chances.
Update: Publicity for HTC has got even worse over the past few weeks, with the recent announcement of its withdrawal from the US tablet market. The stylus principle, however, lives on, particularly in the highly successful Samsung Galaxy Note series.

7) RIM Playbook

What we said: This 7" slate comes with its own unique platform - QNX. To be honest, QNX is probably a bad thing, even though it has been quite well reviewed. Who wants to use the third most popular platform? In addition, QNX currently only supports access to Email and contacts when used in conjunction with a Blackberry mobile phone. This probably means that the Playbook will only be bought by Blackberry owners. Conversely, many such owners will likely buy this slate ahead of the alternatives out of brand loyalty.
Update: Despite fixing the Email access problem, RIM really suffered from its failure to produce a market-leading slate (or good enough new smartphone) to rival the Apple offerings. The company has lost so much market share and market value that its continued independence is far from certain. If you're really happy with your new Blackberry smartphone, you may hope RIM launches a better replacement.

6) Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 Samsung Galaxy Tab

What we said: I know this is old hat - having come out in October 2010 and running on the older Froyo platform - but it does have quite a few sales already in the bag. And it's the one I'm using to write this article now! It's small - which might be good or bad depending on your point of view - and it's also got a very unique connector, which must be bad in anybody's book. But it is the first slate after the iPad to work properly and it does come with the rather lovely Swype keyboard.
Update: It's pretty old and slow now (superceded by the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, launched earlier this year), but it may be good for the kids.

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