More and More iPadversaries: ViewSonic, Toshiba, Archos

By  |  Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 11:00 am

A few weeks ago, I rounded up scads of current and upcoming tablets–ones from big companies, ones from little companies, ones that look a lot like the iPad, and ones with personalities all their own. It wasn’t the least bit shocking that my list was incomplete when I published it, or that it grows more out-of-date every day.

Gizmodo’s Gary Cutlack has a new post up about five tablets that weren’t among the thirty-two I wrote about. One’s the iPad itself (hey, it’s a tablet and it seems to have potential!). Another is the reasonably interesting¬†Samsung Galaxy Tab, which I saw last week at IFA.

And here are the other three:

ViewSonic ViewPad100: This 10″ model dual-boots between Android and Windows 7. The version of Android is the woefully out-of-date 1.6. But the big issue is the very idea of a tablet that runs two different operating systems. I can’t see any way that’s a plus rather than a clunky complication–I mean, with tablets it’s a bad sign if you have to give any thought whatsoever to the process of booting.

(Asus, Samsung, and Toshiba aren’t making dual-booting tablets, but they’re all hedging their bets by readying separate Android and Windows 7 models. That strategy worries me, too: It’s going to be hard enough to build one compelling tablet, let alone two on totally different platforms.)

Toshiba Folio 100: Toshiba’s 10.1″ Android tablet (shown above) sounds respectable from a specs standpoint and packs Android 2.2, but Engadget’s Paul Miller tried it at IFA and was unimpressed on multiple fronts–he says it feels cheap, has a substandard LCD, doesn’t offer the Android Market, and sports a mediocre interface.

Archos 7o: Give Archos credit for having built tablets and tabletesque devices for years–it’s not jumping on any bandwagon, and it’s not building iPad wannabees. But I suspect that Cutlack is right when he says that this new Android model, with a 7″ screen and a hard drive, is better thought of as a media player than a well-rounded tablet.

I’m still waiting for the first tablet that rational observers think could be an iPhone killer, or at least formidable competition for Apple–the Droid of the tablet category, if you will. The ViewTab, Folio, and 7o aren’t it. Neither is the Galaxy Tab, although it could be a popular product in its own right. ¬†The hardware part of competing with the iPad isn’t that thorny a problem; the software side is a gigantic challenge. (Tablets need interfaces designed with tablets in mind, not stretched-out smartphone interfaces or ones repurposed from the keyboard-and-mouse era.)

I suspect that it may be mid-2011 before truly polished iPad rivals show up–by which time Apple will presumably be ready to announce its second-generation tablet. Here’s hoping I’m being overly pessimistic…


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Mark Says:

    Dear Tablet Makers,

    Give me a full recent Android on a large tablet that excels as an ereader or tablet computer. Give me the ability to attach a keyboard/mouse and a stand so I can use it as a laptop replacement in a pinch. Now get the price right – and I'm there.

  2. Charbax Says:

    The iPad is none other than a highly overpriced stretched out smartphone OS.

  3. Info Dave Says:

    Tablet and mouse seem to be mutually exclusive, unless you're talking about a Windows 7 tablet. The multi-touch interface get the user one step closer to interacting with the device and the application. This is at the expense of the fine granularity of control that the mouse gives you. In the short term, people seem to be enamored with touch. We'll see what the future holds.

  4. James Says:

    The Archos tablets are none other than cheap, unstable devices. They crash all the time. It takes a years worth of bug fix updates from Archos to make it as stable as a release candidate device.

  5. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    It's almost certain that the next tablet after iPad to sell 1 million units will be iPad v2.0. The next one after that could easily be iPad v3.0.

    iPhone introduction to Droid introduction was 34 months … almost 3 years. iPad is worse because it has one foot in mobiles and one in desktops. The only non-Apple company with both mobile and desktop software is Microsoft, but they famously have 2 separate systems, one welded to ARM and one welded to Intel, so they can't do a best-of-both-worlds like iPad.