Event sees a proliferation of new form factors as vendors look to multitouch

CES 2010: Tech giants showcase Tablet PCs

Following a great deal of speculation over the possibility of a forthcoming Apple Tablet PC, this years Consumer Electronics Show has seen a host of similar devices offered by a number of key players in the tech segment.

The most widely publicised of these has been the HP Multitouch Tablet, which has yet to receive an official name and was unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in his keynote address. Although no specifications have been released as yet, the device is known to support Windows 7 and utilises the operating system’s multitouch support.

Another tablet-style device to have been unveiled was the Lenovo U1 Hybrid Notebook. This device takes the form of a notebook with a detachable screen that can function as a tablet PC. The U1 Hybrid also features two separate processors for each component part of the PC that can switch functions seamlessly – meaning that the tablet screen does not have to be synced prior to, or after, detachment.

Dell’s new Tablet PC also made a brief appearance at the event. Dubbed the Streak, due to a leaked Dell presentation sheet that described it as such, the only definite feature that is known about the device is that it is likely to offer 3G connectivity. Prices, release dates and specifications are as yet unknown.

Freescale has also brought a tablet concept to the CES. Like the other devices it features a multi-touch interface and like Lenovo’s Hybrid, the tablet component features a keyboard ‘base’ that also acts as a docking hub.

However, unlike the other devices, specs are available for the Freescale Tablet – it offers 512Mb of RAM, 4x64GB of storage memory, Bluetooth and Wireless B, G and N connectivity as well as speaker, microphone and a three megapixel webcam. Unfortunately, according to Gizmodo, the Linux-based UI leaves a lot to be desired, with the website describing it as “last-gen.”

Most of the devices are still prototypes, and will not be seen on shelves until later this year. The challenge for vendors will be to convince consumers that these products can fulfil a niche in a world where most households already own multiple PCs. The key issue on the horizon is whether the Tablet PC will replace the netbook category or sit comfortably alongside it.

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