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Spring has sprung tablet release announcements

- March 22nd, 2011

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While it’s now officially Spring – although you wouldn’t know it by the amount of snow on my front lawn, the fresh new season brings to Canada a new crop major announcements and a new breed of tablets that will soon be among us.

Apple iPad 2

The most recent announcement came this morning, as Apple Canada confirmed they will officially launch the Apple iPad 2, the second generation of what they call a post-PC device at 5PM local time on March 25th in their retail stores but as early as 1:00 AM PDT (4:00 AM EDT) through the on-line store.

Some of the features include; a 9.7” LED Backlit glossy wide-screen display, Apple’s new and faster  1 GHz dual-core A5 processor, front-facing VGA camera and rear-facing camera that captures HD video at 720p. It still maintains 10 hours of battery life while being 1/3 thinner (0.34”) and 15% lighter (1.33-1.35 lbs) than its predecessor. It will still come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models available in WI-FI or WI-FI + 3G models. Starting at $519, pricing on the new units has been reduced $30 across the board from last May’s original iPad release.

With over 15 million units sold worldwide and 65K apps in the mix, the other players will certainly be playing catch up.

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BlackBerry PlayBook WI-FI 7”

One of those players is Research in Motion (RIM). Just a few hours before Apple, they announced April 19th as the arrival date  in both Canada and the U.S. of their BlackBerry PlayBook (WI-FI model).

Determined to go heads-on against the current leader, RIM will be making the PlayBook available in more than 20,00 outlets in both countries.  In Canada, it’ll be carried by pretty much all of Canada’s carriers including newer incumbents Wind and Mobilicity. You will also find them in bookstores like Chapters/Indigo as well as most major electronic retailers. Best Buy is already accepting pre-orders.

The PlayBook is smaller than the iPad porting a 7″ (1024 x 600) WSVGA capacitive LCD touch screen display. It’s 0.4” thick and weighs 0.9lbs. It also has a 1GHz, dual-core processor – brand not specified and 1GB of RAM. Both its front and rear facing cameras offer 1080p resolution with still resolutions rated at 3MP and 5MP respectively. It has features we’ve already seen- a GPS, Accelerometer, 6-Axis Motion Sensor Gyroscope and a Digital Compass, but it does have a stereo mic and stereo speakers. It also runs Flash and has out of the box enterprise support.

The PlayBook will run on the BlackBerry® Tablet OS. It will offer the same storage configurations as the iPad – 16GB, 32GB & 64GB and will sell for $499, $599 & $699 respectively for the WI-FI models- albeit in a smaller platform.  Other configurations will be available at a later date.

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Motorola XOOM Coming No Official Date

They keep coming. It’s amazing what can happen in 24 hours. It was just a day ago that Motorola announced its intentions for the Canadian release of its tablet offering – the Motorola XOOM.

As of this afternoon (4:15 EDT), we’re told that there is NO set date for the actual release in Canada other than some time in April.  However, a quick glance at the Best Buy and Future Shop on-line stores and you’ll see an expected arrival date of April 15th for the WI-FI model with the 3G/4G models following in mid 2011. I’ve also heard rumours of dates earlier in April.

The XOOM will feature a 10.1” HD wide-screen (1280×800) display,  a 1 GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. It will run the Honeycomb OS (Android 3.0) which features true multitasking and widgets. It will offer the latest Google Mobile Services including Google Maps 5 with 3D interaction.

It will also feature tabbed browsing, bookmark syncing and Flash compatibility. It too will have 2 built-in HD cameras – a 5MP rear  camera and a 2MP front-facing web cam along with a built-in Dual-LED flash.

As an obvious poke at Apple, Motorola says that the XOOM’s higher resolution and more screen size in a smaller package than the leading competitor.

Interestingly, Motorola is not following suit with the others. So far, it appears that the XOOM WI-FI will launch in 1 configuration only – 32GB at a price of $599. And with all the cloud and easily accessible on-line storage options available today, I wonder if this will turn away those looking to save a C-note.

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in the consumer arena. With each unit certainly having their own strengths, we may certainly see some “Spring surprises.”

An any event. these are just some of the features of the latest 3 tablet offerings. For full specs, check out their respective sites.

Are You Ready for a Tablet?

So are you ready to take the tablet challenge?  If so, let us know which tablet you’ll be buying and why – then click over to Jesse Michaels’ post and cast your vote.

Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg


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