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Alex Fergusson Architects

T-Day has arrived!

Tablet day is here.  

Each year at the start of September, there's a massive trade show in Berlin called IFA. (It stands for Internationale Funkausstellung - International Radio trade show) It's one of the biggest - and certainly amongst the most important - in the gadget calendar.

This is because gadget sales are very much greater around Christmas and anyone wanting to sell big at Christmas really has to get their goods to market by late October, which means showing them off to the trade at about this time of year.


Last year at this time the internet was buzzing with news of the new Apple iPad and the upcoming launch of Samsung's Galaxy Tab. But the all-pervading optimism of twelve months ago is now tinged with more than a little realism.

..but first, the good news.

Before getting to the reality checks, there is some good news. By the time we got to the CES show in Las Vegas in January there were perhaps ninety tabs on show from different manufacturers, the majority running some form of Google's Android platform. From amongst these some serious and entertaining products have emerged some of which have joined our recommended list.

There is also a good crop of new offerings due for release over the next few weeks. AmoThe Sony Tablet Sngst these, the HTC Jetstream and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 look very promising together with a pair of tablets from each of Lenovo (the Ideapad and the Thinkpad) and Sony (called "S" and "P"). Last, but almost certainly not least, the tiny Samsung Galaxy Note with a screen of just 5.3" could show many users what Android can do in a format larger than the average smartphone.

From your point of view (and ours) the best products and platforms will result from healthy market competition. The presence of Apple's iPads and their iOS platform should be balanced by the open-source Android platform introduced by Google and available to many manufacturers. It is also healthy to have additional alternative platforms waiting in the wings, but realistically these will struggle to make money. From the point of view of balancing competition, it is a good thing that Android's Platform the trailing platform in the market is lengthening its lead in the larger smartphone market: Android now has a 41% share compared to 27% for iOS.

It is also encouraging that the next release, Ice Cream, expected in the next couple of months, promises to unify the Android smartphone and tablet environments.

The single, dominant event of the year, though, has been the launch of Apple's iPad 2. In another sparkling display of how to blend technical know-how with a gut-feel for what the market wants, someone at Apple (Steve Jobs?) decided to deliver less than almost anybody had predicted, but crucially at a lower than expected price of around $500.

The opposition was wrong-footed. The new iPad's screen is bright and clear - and craftily,
exactly the same as on the iPad 1. With a slightly lower resolution than the competition, Apple was able to concentrate on achieving fabulously smooth scrolling - the first thing most potential buyers try out in the shop. Response times are good and there are a huge number of apps available on day one. And the iPad delivers less in more aspect - it's lighter at around 600 grams.

So that's the good news, now for the second part of this feature - the reality check - it amounts to a six month delay for tab Android and the end of the line for some of the other iPad alternatives.





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