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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Dual-Screen Windows Tablet - Toshiba Australia has launched the first major assault on the tablet market since the iPad with the announcement of a dual screen device called the Libretto W100.

Due to land in Australian stores next month, the Libretto W100 is the first tablet to be built on the Windows 7 operating system, and it boasts two touch screens and a reversible keyboard so it can switch from clam-style notebook into e-book reader.

The Libretto will sell for $1599 in Australia - significantly more than the iPad - which Toshiba executives justify on the basis that the device offers more than a passive "consumption" experience.

The launch of the iPad in May ushered in a new era of internet-connected tablets and while many competitors are expected to launch products in coming months, the Android operating system is yet to attract mainstream endorsement, in spite of its growing success in the smartphone market.

AsusTek Computer also recently announced a tablet computer that will run on Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system, set for release later this year or early 2011.

Foad Fadaghi, research director at Telsyte, said it was not surprising to see Microsoft tablets lead the way in the tablet market.
“Microsoft have had tablets for many years and there is already a certain amount of built-in technology such as touch,” he said.

Powered by Windows 7 Home Premium, with an Intel U5400 processor and 2GB of RAM processor, the Libretto will also have a USB port – a feature that was absent on the Apple's iPad.

It also aims to give popular book readers like Amazon's Kindle a run for their money with its dual touch screens, but has yet to announce agreements with content providers.

The Libretto is wireless-enabled with a built-in webcam and integrated Bluetooth, and although it weighs less than a kilo, the extra functionality results in a thicker device than the iPad.

Fadaghi predicts that tablet computers will arrive in all shapes and sizes with “a multitude of brands out there with different consumers' different preferences for platforms".

“We anticipate a number of Android tablets and we will see many and lesser-known brands built on the Android platform because it is an open source platform and can be used on any sort of hardware."

The first of these to arrive in Australia will be Notion Ink's ADAM which is a high-definition 10-inch tablet with camera and USB and black-and-white e-reader display. According to its local distributor, SPT Australia, it will ship here in the coming months.

Cisco Systems, the world's largest maker of networking equipment, has also announced plans to launch an Android tablet called Cius, early next year.

With front and back facing cameras, video conferencing on the go will be the main business of the tablet, according to Cisco.

Not to be left out, rumours have been circulating about Research in Motion's BlackBerry tablet. Running on the company's own operating system, it is expected to ship with a seven-inch display and back and front-facing cameras, according to CNet.

Although Hewlett-Packard has been keeping its cards close to its chest, CNet also reports that a trademark for the term PalmPad was lodged by the company late last week.

Considering the company has canceled development of Windows 7 and Android tablets in recent months, industry watchers have concluded the PalmPad will be based on the Palm WebOS, which it recently bought.



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