Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

Apple's iPad 2.0 will face stiffer competition than its predecessor


apple, tablet, computerSpeculation abounds that Apple will introduce its much-anticipated iPad 2.0 at a Wednesday meeting at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Any new tablet computer Apple might unveil will enter the market with much more serious competition that its predecessor.

motorola, google, tablet, computer

As it did a decade ago when its iPod took the digital music player world by storm, Apple more recently set its sights on what it felt was an underserved market—in this case, notebook-sized computers for easily accessing the Web and playing high-quality video and video games—and delivered a predictably handsome, powerful and popular gadget that left the rest of the market frantically trying to catch up. Whereas Microsoft and the competition failed to come up with a commensurate response to the iPod, this time around Apple has to contend with Google, whose Android operating system has attracted a substantial and growing base of application developers and device makers.

Google's first response to the iPad is the Xoom, a tablet built by Motorola to run the latest version of Android, called Honeycomb. Other high-profile competitors—including tablets developed by Microsoft, Blackberry-maker RIM and HP—are likewise sharpening their knives to claim a slice of the more than 57 million tablets expected to ship this year (up from about 17 million in 2010, according to research firm IHS iSuppli).

Here's a round-up of several available or anticipated tablets:

ExoPC Slate

•    Released: October 2010

•    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, 32-bit edition

•    Size: 295 mm long by 195 mm wide

•    Thickness: 14 mm

•    Weight: 950 grams

•    CPU: 1.66 GHz Intel Atom Pineview-M N450

•    Display: 294.6 mm

•    Memory: 2 GB

•    Storage: 32 GB or 64 GB

•    Camera: 1.3-megapixel front-facing Web cam

•    Price: $700

ASUS Eee Slate EP121

•    Released: February 2011

•    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium

•    Size:  312 mm long by 207.2 mm wide

•    Thickness: 17 mm

•    Weight:  1.2 kilograms

•    CPU: Intel Dual-Core i5 470um

•    Display: 307.3 mm

•    Memory: 2 GB or 4 GB

•    Storage: 32 GB or 64 GB

•    Camera: 2 megapixel camera

•    Price: $1,000 (32 GB) or $1,100 (64 GB)

Motorola Xoom MZ600

•    Released: February 24, 2011

•    Operating System: Google Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)

•    Size: 249 mm long by 167.6 mm wide

•    Thickness: 12.7 mm

•    Weight: 725.7 grams

•    CPU: 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor

•    Display: 256.5 mm

•    Memory: 1 GB

•    Storage: 32GB flash drive

•    Camera: 5 megapixel, plus a 2-megapixel front-facing Web cam

•    Price: $800

Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry PlayBook

•    Expected release: early 2011

•    Operating System: BlackBerry Tablet OS

•    Size: 194 mm long by 130 mm wide

•    Thickness: 10 mm

•    Weight: 425 grams

•    CPU: 1 GHz Cortex-A9 dual-core processor

•    Display: 177.8 mm LCD

•    Memory: 1 GB RAM

•    Storage: 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB

•    Camera: 5 megapixel, plus a 3-megapixel front-facing Web cam

•    Price: N/A

HP TouchPad

•    Expected release: summer 2011

•    Operating System: HP webOS (initially developed by Palm)

•    Size: 242 mm long by 190 mm wide

•    Thickness: 13.7 mm

•    Weight: 740 grams

•    CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-CPU APQ8060 1.2-GHz processor

•    Display: 246.4 mm

•    Memory: N/A

•    Storage: 16 GB or 32 GB

•    Camera: 1.3-megapixel front-facing Web cam

•    Price: N/A

Apple iPad

The consensus is that iPad 2.0 will be thinner than its predecessor with more RAM (512 megabytes) and a front-facing camera. As of now, however, the iPad's vital statistics are as follows:

•    Released: April 3, 2010

•    Operating System: iOS

•    Size: 242.8 mm long by 189.7 mm wide

•    Thickness: 13.4 mm

•    Weight: 0.68 kg (Wi-Fi model); 0.73 kg (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

•    CPU: 1 GHz Apple A4

•    Display: 246.4 mm LED--backlit glossy widescreen with Multi-Touch

•    Memory: 256 MB

•    Storage: 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB flash drive

•    Camera: none

•    Price: ranges from $500 (for 16 GB of storage and Wi-Fi connectivity) to $830 (for 64 GB, plus Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity)

Image of the original iPad courtesy of Apple

Image of Xoom courtesy of Motorola

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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