Learn More About Tablet PCs

Learn More About Tablet PCs

Tablet PC Mania Hits

REPOSTED from: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/news/2010-01-07-tablet-computers_N.htm entitled “Tablet PC Mania Hits” (2010).

By Michelle Kessler and Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY

Hot new tablet computers are shaking up the stodgy computer industry — possibly giving consumers reason to buy yet another PC.

Dell (DELL)Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) each unveiled tablet PC models at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Each features a touch-screen that eliminates or reduces the need for a keyboard.

Apple (AAPL) is expected to come out with its own tablet later this month. Apple declined to comment.

It’s too soon to say whether the new computers will be a hit. Many models are pricey, and older attempts at tablets have not sold well, says Allen Nogee, a tech analyst at researcher In-Stat.

But the buzz suggests that their time may have come. “More people (are) adapting to small, touch-screen devices, like the (Apple) iPhone … and more people (are) attracted to netbooks,” Nogee says. That makes them more willing to embrace portable, touch-screen computers, he says.

“Is there a market above smartphones and below netbooks? Obviously, we think there is,” says Philip McKinney, a vice president at Hewlett-Packard.

Tablets have been around in different forms for a decade, but they make up less than 1% of the laptop market, says Mikako Kitagawa, tech analyst at researcher Gartner. Among new models:

Dell tablet. The No. 2 PC maker showed off a prototype with a 5-inch screen Thursday. The device is expected to come out during the first half of this year. No name or price have been announced.

Lenovo IdeaPad U1. This tablet looks like an ordinary clamshell laptop with a keyboard and 11.6-inch screen. But the screen can be removed and used separately as a 1.6-pound tablet. It is expected around midyear at less than $1,000.

HP slate. Few details are available about this prototype that Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer showed at CES. But McKinney said it’s a real, mainstream product that will appear sometime in 2010. It can run software that turns it into an e-reader.

For the market to take off, the new tablets need to be easy to use, Kitagawa says. Older models have been hampered by applications that leave users yearning for keyboards. Lower prices would also help. Tablets typically range from $1,000 or more.

If these two issues can be solved, tablets — like netbooks — may become the next type of must-have PC, Kitagawa says.

“You’ll want additional ones — maybe one for each bedroom,” she says.

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