One of the things that will define this year’s Consumer Electronics Show is that it’s the first one of the iPad era–Steve Jobs having unveiled Apple’s tablet two weeks after last year’s CES. And since most of Apple’s competitors have been slow to come up with iPad-like tablets of their own, CES 2011 is going to feature the debuts of iPad rivals by the boatload.
One of them will be from Toshiba. The company isn’t ready to start shipping anything just yet. (It cheerfully admits that it likes to take its time and do its best to ship a more refined product rather than rushing into new markets.) But it’s released some details about an unnamed, unpriced tablet which it intends to ship in the first half of this year.
The company briefed me recently on its plans, and showed me a non-working prototype. (It was, as you might be able to guess about a Toshiba product, pleasant-looking but relatively conservative.) Writing about a tablet without seeing or using its software is a little like judging a car without driving it or even sitting inside it–specs can only tell you so much. But the Toshiba tablet’s specs do look good. It has:
A 10.1″ display. Between Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, it looked for a while like Apple’s rivals might be concluding that relatively tiny 7″ tablets were best equipped to do battle with the iPad. Toshiba. however, is building a tablet with a screen that’s a skosh larger than the 9.7″ display on the iPad. Its resolution is higher, too: 1280-by-800 vs. the iPad’s 1024-by-768. (The Toshiba will weigh 1.5 pounds, compared to 1.5 pounds for the iPad and slightly over 13 oz. for the Galaxy.)
Android’s tablet-friendly “Gingerbread” release. With Flash support and various Toshiba-specific features such as a Toshiba app store and a Toshiba e-book store.
Cameras front (2 megapixels) and back (5 megapixels). They’re pretty much a standard feature on every tablet that isn’t the iPad (and the odds seem high that they’ll be on the next iPad as well).
A dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. Nvidia’s mobile platform looks cool, but other than Microsoft’s Zune HD and (um) its Kin smartphones, it hasn’t shown up in many high-profile products yet. Toshiba’s tablet could be its flagship.
An HDMI port and an SD slot. Along with a Mini-USB connector and a dock connector, 802.11n, Bluetooth, and GPS.
A removable battery. The prototype tablet I saw was reasonably thin–.6″– but you can pop the back cover off and replace the battery.
By the time CES wraps up, we should have lots more details on lots more tablets–including ones from Motorola and Vizio and possibly Lenovo, HP, and whatever companies Microsoft has lined up for the announcement it’s expected to make during Steve Ballmer’s Wednesday keynote. I’ll try to see as many as possible in person at the show. You particularly excited about any of them?