Dell, Asus, Motorola offer previews of tablets

CES a tablet paradise

Companies have turned to Internet videos to leap ahead of rivals in announcing their new products at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year, or at least to create buzz around their launches.

Asustek Computer, for example, put out a video on its YouTube channel for the [Asustek E Slate E121], a tablet with a 12-inch touchscreen that has an Intel Core i5 processor and runs Microsoft's Windows 7 OS.

"For more great pad ideas, see Asus at CES 2011," the company says on the video, an indication it will announce more than one new tablet-like device at CES.

[Dell is promising] more mobility and gaming products at CES in its video. The company has already launched the [Dell Inspiron Duo], a hybrid that offers aspects of netbooks and tablets.

The 10.1-inch touchscreen on the Inspiron Duo flips over so it can be held and used much like a tablet. But it's designed as a netbook with a full keyboard. The device has an Intel Atom Dual Core chip inside and uses Windows 7 Home Premium as its OS.

The Inspiron Duo is also priced to compete with tablets, at US$549.99, compared to $499 for an iPad and $649 for Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Tab, according to Amazon.com.

Most netbooks cost less, around $250 to $350 from companies such as Acer and Asustek.

One of the most popular pre-CES videos on YouTube is the [Tablet Evolution by Motorola], with over 1.3 million views. The video shows tablets from history, from slates of rock to early electronic devices and finally ends at a table with a Motorola product covered by a black sheet. In the video, a bee buzzes into view, an obvious reference to the new Google Android OS on board, Honeycomb.

Google worked with Motorola and chip maker Nvidia [on a tablet device designed for Honeycomb], which was shown off at the D: Dive Into Mobile Conference in San Francisco early last month.

The Motorola tablet will be unveiled at CES on Wednesday.

This year's CES is already slated to be a hotspot for tablets with potentially hundreds of such devices on display from companies around the world.

The rush to create tablets was sparked by Apple when it launched the iPad in April. The company has reported selling nearly 8 million of the devices as of October and has offered up apps, e-books and other content and services to make the idea even more compelling.

But at least one analyst has gone against the grain of tablet hype.

Michell Prunty, senior consumer analyst at Semico, said that in a world inundated with tablets, "it's enough to make someone focus on the product instead of their own needs." She suggests users forget the hype and figure out what they'll really use the mobile devices for.

She needs to type on the go and browse the Internet. So her choice: an Asustek netbook.

"I'm going with the [Eee PC 1015PEM]. Seems crazy, I know. But it has a 13 hour battery life, a keyboard, clam shell for the screen protection, no service agreement, and an LED-backlit display. Oh, and its half the price," she said.

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Dan Nystedt

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