If you thought 2010 was a big year for the tablet, then wait until you get a lot of 2011. Motorola, HTC, RIM, Apple, Dell, Asus, Acer, and MSI have either confirmed they will be launching tablet devices in the first four months of 2011, or are rumoured to be doing so.
With so much choice, which one should you look forward to, which one should you opt for, and should you be happy with the one you might already have.
Here we detail what we know so far about the explosion of tablets coming your way in the first half of 2011.
Motorola MotoPad, Motorola Xoom, Motorola Stingray
Motorola has confirmed it will be launching a tablet device at CES in Las Vegas in January. The company hasn’t set a name, although rumours doing the rounds at the time of writing suggest it could be called the “Xoom”.
What we do know is that the company thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread releasing a teaser video slamming the Samsung Tab and the Apple iPad.
We also know that it will be running on Google’s Android operating system and that it will be the new, yet to be announced Honeycomb version. Little is know as to what that version will feature, but with Android 2.3 only just starting to hit handsets (well the Nexus S and the Nexus One).
We also know, thanks to Andy Rubin showing off the model at a conference earlier in December that it will run a dual core Nvidia 3D processor what is looks like a 10-inch display.
Okay, lets get a couple of things cleared up and out of the way straight away. It’s unlikely to be called the HTCPad, we aren’t 100 per cent sure it will launch at Mobile World Congress, and HTC has no official word that they are even developing yet releasing a tablet.
However when the founder of the company drops choice words such as ““[Customers] may want Windows or Android; or they may want big screen or small screen, they may want keyboard or tablet; HTC will let the consumer decide” in a recent interview you have to sit up and pay attention.
Add that to the release of Honeycomb in January for the MotoPad (see above) and you just know that if Motorola are working with it so is HTC.
The final piece in the puzzle is Mobile World Congress is in February. It’s the mobile phone conference in Barcelona and HTC always go “big”. 2010 saw the launch of the HTC Desire, HTC Legend and the HTC HD mini.
Again a name hasn’t been confirmed yet for the Palm tablet, but HP’s CEO has gone on the record saying that "You'll see us with a Microsoft product out in the near future and a webOS-based product in early 2011."
We suspect that early 2011 (PalmPad all set for CES unveiling?) is January or February and that HP will make a slash at CES, but more likely Mobile World Congress telling the world that it’s back and hoping to rule the roost once again (remember the iPaq’s).
Details are thin on the ground as to what the WebOS device could offer however supposed leaked specs suggest that it will be running on an updated version (2.5.1) of webOS and include front (1.3-megapixel) and rear (3-megapixel) cameras - both of which have an LED flash.
Connectivity wise the US version will be Sprint 4G compatible, have mini-HDMI and USB 3.0 ports, with hardware specs "nearly identical to Apple’s iPad".
We already know all there is to know about the specs and performance of the BlackBerry PlayBook from RIM. Pocket-lint was at the launch in San Francisco, and we’ve got meetings planned at CES to have a play with a fully working model (at the launch it was just a mock up). What we don’t know is the launch date or the final price.
However suggestions, rumours, and intuition suggest that it will be getting a March launch date in time for Christmas and to make sure that it catches those interested before the iPad 2 comes out (see below).
You can read all there is to know about the PlayBook on our dedicated PlayBook homepage.
Apple iPad 2
Yeah, we hear you, you’re still getting excited about the iPad and here’s news of a newer version to spoil the party; the iPad 2.
Again this is pure rumour and speculation, however it’s pretty much considered fact that Apple will launch a second generation iPad around April if it keeps in line with the previous announcement in 2010 (January with a in shops in April announcement).
New to the table(t) will be a better screen, probably retina grade to match the iPhone 4, and a camera so you can FaceTime or hopefully Skype.
Other rumours are suggesting a better speaker, and dual docking ports so you can use it docked in landscape as well as portrait.
Asus Eee Pad
Asus is also expected to make its move into the tablet arena in a big way in 2011 with more than three devices already planned for release in April. Those devices are expected to be running Windows 7, Android, and an ebook reader (which Pocket-lint has already reviewed).
We're expecting everything to kick off at this year's CES in Las Vegas in January, with products starting to hit the shelves in March and April.
So far rumours suggest a 12-inch Windows 7-based Eee Pad and two 10-inch Eee Pads, one with Windows 7 and Intel's Oak Trail platform, and one with Nvidia Tegra 2 and Google Android.
Dell Streak 7 and Dell Streak 10
Dell already have the Dell Streak, a 5-inch Android powered tablet, but CEO Michael Dell has teased previously that the company has a 7-inch and 10-inch version ready to roll out. With 2010 now over you can be sure that the company will launch the next 12 months to increase their foothold in the tablet market and bring one or two devices out for people looking for something a little bigger.
MSI has been rumoured to be working on a tablet device for some time now (like over a year) and all signs point to a 2011 launch after a 2010 launch failed to materialise.
The company's, which has always been keen to create new form factors, devices are expected to be a 10-inch Windows running, intel powered tablet as well as an Nvidia Tegra 2-based model running Google's Android OS.
Word on the street is though that this model is unlikely to turn up until Google releases it's more tablet savvy Android OS - Honeycomb.
Which tablet are you most looking forward to, or are you happy with one you bought in 2010? Let us know in the comments below: