Year of the Tablet?

Posted January 9th, 2011 at 2:11 pm (UTC-4)
1 comment

Mike O’Sullivan | Las Vegas

More than 80 tablet computers similar to Apple’s iPad are being introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, along with the latest 3D TV sets and other gadgets. The industry trade show, which runs through Sunday, is generating excitement, but some consumers ask whether they want or need all the new gadgets.

More than 120,000 people have come to see the new TV sets with brilliant, vibrant color, including some that offer three-dimensional viewing without special glasses.

They are also getting to play with the latest high tech toys, including Microsoft‘s motion-controlled gaming device Kinect, and miniature devices like a high definition camera worn on the wrist.

But handheld tablet computers are creating the most excitement, like one from Samsung – the Galaxy Tab – released two months ago.  One-and-a-half million have already been sold worldwide.

Samsung’s Trevor Lambert says the Galaxy Tab is an entertainment center that fits in your pocket. “The device is extremely portable.  It comes loaded with Samsung’s media hub, which grants you access to thousands of TV shows and movies on the go.  And once you download it, you can share that content with up to five Samsung Galaxy devices,” he said.

The computer maker Lenovo is introducing its own new tablet, and so are Toshiba and other computer makers.

Electronics maker Coby is also making tablets, and Coby Americas President Michael Troetti says they are aimed at consumers who will not pay $500 for an iPad. “When you look at what Apple is offering you – they have a 10-inch unit – I believe they’re $499 or $599 at this point – you can get a 10-inch from Coby for $299 and get a very pleasurable experience,” he said.

Millions of Apple iPads have been sold since its release in April, but Beth, from Bethesda, Maryland, says she is not likely to buy one or any other tablet computer. “No, it just seems like something extra that I wouldn’t bother with, but I’m not a big user of electronic gadgets, so I’m probably on that other extreme,” she said.

But Pamela Sorensen is a blogger in Washington D.C. who says Apple has opened a new market. “About 80 percent of my friends has an iPad now.  Even people who have PCs versus Macbooks, they have an iPad.  I was just talking to one of my friends, and she absolutely loves it,” she said.

Consumers with money to spend can soon buy other gadgets and devices on display in Las Vegas, for example, a furry robot toy with artificial intelligence for just over $6,000, or an Audi automobile with the latest electronic systems and dashboard displays for many thousands more.

The worldwide economy is still sluggish, but industry analysts say that fickle, reluctant consumers can be persuaded to buy some of the new devices.

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