The Tablet Shootout was quite a draw for our almost 125 Open House Fiesta attendees. We reached out to top tablet vendors and asked them to talk about the business advantages their tablets provide. Although there was no gun slinging, it still proved exciting—and informative. For those of you who were unable to join us, here are some of the key takeaways from our presenters: representatives from Mac Business Solutions, Inc., Motorola, HTC, BlackBerry, and Lenovo.

1.    Apple iPad2.

  • 365,000+ app options; 90,000 just for the iPad
  • An HDMI adaptor cable allows it to connect to an HD screen for slideshows and presentations
  • 10 hour battery life
  • Two cameras allow for video calling along with the usual photo and video functionality
  • Entertainment with many corporate applications
  • No Flash
  • Next version will include wireless projection for presentations via Apple TV
  • 2D maps available now, 3D maps will probably be in the next release of the operating system

2.    Motorola Xoom.

  • Runs on Android’s new tablet operating system, Honeycomb
  • 10-hour battery life
  • HDMI port for presentations
  • Supports Flash
  • Approximately 300 Android apps
  • Credit card swiping for sales on the go
  • 3D maps; specific for locations and directions
  • Google has bought Motorola and will provide them first look at any operating system changes

 3.   BlackBerry PlayBook.

  • The PlayBook runs on QNX, an operating system that’s efficient, secure, and easy to use
  • HDMI port allows for HD presentations
  • Flash is supported; fully functional browser
  • If you have a BlackBerry phone, Bluetooth allows it and the PlayBook to connect in order to view the phone’s contents on the tablet or get the tablet online with the phone’s connection (“BlackBerry bridge”)
  • Limited apps from RIM
  • Next version will support email without have to bridge to phone
  • Has an Android emulator that should let it run Android applications in addition to native QNX applications

 4.    Lenovo ThinkPad.

  • High focus on business market
  • Access to approximately 300 Android-specific apps, plus access to hundreds of apps in the Lenovo App Shop that have been verified by Lenovo’s app testers
  • 2 dual-core mobile processors that make extreme multitasking easy and fast
  • 178-degree viewing angle/display technology
  • Gorilla glass technology—prevents against damage to screen
  • Micro USB port for data transfer
  • Remote data wipe and disable, useful to secure corporate data
  • Full keyboard portfolio option with USB connection for better battery life and connection
  • USB port and Flash drive
  • SIM card slot
  • Digital pen functionality
  • Higher level of security and enterprise manageability than most tablets in market

 5.    HTC Tablet Options (Flyer through Best Buy and Evo View 4G through Sprint).

  • Smaller than other tablets
  • Pen functionality that allows you to make notes, highlight, etc.
  • Everything have access to on smartphone and computer, have access to on the tablet
  • Older version of Android operating system called Gingerbread
  • HTC Sense features a unique carousel of widgets putting a user’s most important content and information at the visual center of the experience.
  • Dual cameras
  • Supports Flash

Bottom Line

In summary, the Lenovo ThinkPad came away as the clear business winner. I currently have an iPad and am about to purchase a ThinkPad when they release the 3G version, so I will let you know how one stacks up against the other. Google’s purchase of Motorola gives them a slight advantage on future releases, but they seem to be targeting the consumer market. The iPad dominates the market and I like mine, but it is a definite blend of consumer and business. The BlackBerry PlayBook isn’t there yet. Releasing a tablet that makes email access dependent on a BlackBerry phone was a mistake; I look forward to their next release. Finally, the HTC tablet options are almost strictly for the consumer or the high school or college student because of their neat note-taking features.

Overall, it is clear that this is a highly competitive marketplace and vendors are trying very hard to outdo each other.  Almost any shortcoming that came out during the discussion was to be addressed “in the next software release”.  It is becoming a neck-and-neck race to dominate the market; in fact, it reminds me a lot of the days when Apple pitted the Macintosh against the huge market of IBM PC clone makers, like Dell and Compaq.  It will be interesting to see the outcome in a few years.  The one undeniable fact is that this is a new market that is here to stay.  Between the new form factor and the “instant on” ability, tablets have made serious inroads into the mainstream consumer and business technology markets.

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