The tablet space is becoming ever-more crowded. And the rumour mill is churning with stories about a slew of next-gen slates due to land at either the end of this year or the beginning of 2012.
With the iPad rampant, Android Honeycomb tabs are really going to have to raise their game in the next few months to give Apple something to think about. Here are five that must deliver if Android is to have any hope of challenging the iPad’s continued dominance.
1 Amazon Kindle Tablet
The first of Amazon’s tablets has already been detailed by a comprehensive leak on TechCrunch. The fact it’s running a heavily customised version of Android won’t be an issue if Amazon is able to deliver it with the much-mooted $250 (about £150) price tag.
Its all-round content package, with access to Cloud Player, Amazon MP3 and Kindle books makes it the most likely contender to give the iPad a bloody nose. If non-iOS kit is ever going to make a dent, the Amazon tablet must succeed and must do it quickly.
2 Motorola Xoom 2
There’s no escaping the fact that the first Honeycomb tablet to hit shelves has failed to scale the heights expected of it. So it’s vital that the Xoom 2 succeeds. Recently leaked images suggest this will be a seven-inch, super-slim slate that dispenses with the chunky frame and unduly large screen of the original.
Motorola needs to make this new tablet a success, especially now the company is set to become part of the wider Google family. The Bi G can’t have a tablet that it essentially makes not making the grade.
3 Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
The wait has been long for this one, with preorders only just going live in The States. In that time, it’s already been superseded by the banned Galaxy Tab 7.7, but as with any gadget that’s kept in the locker for a long time, it’ll need to sell well and impress punters very quickly indeed.
The concern is that other tablets will gazump it, thanks to the fact it’s taken Sammy months to get its challenger out of the gate. If this slate fails, Samsung’s wider tablet strategy will be seriously compromised.
4 Toshiba AT200
The 7.7mm-thick AT200 is an exciting prospect. It’s thinner than the iPad and has great connectivity. But with Toshiba’s hefty Thrive failing to catch on across The Pond and last year’s average Folio 100 discontinued, a lot is riding on this new slate.
Toshiba will need to ensure it sells at a very competitive, iPad-beating price and that the hardware really stands up. Especially seeing as it runs a basic version of Android Honeycomb.
5 BlackBerry PlayBook 2
This tablet is a long way off. But make no mistake, the original has failed utterly. A measly 200,000 units were sold between April and June and native email is still missing from the device, some six months after launch.
The BlackBerry PlayBook 2 will have to work perfectly out-of-the-box. Software will need to sing, apps will need to be abundant and the design must be spot on.
If this fails to deliver on all of these, then BlackBerry’s hopes of even getting close to the iPad will be gone.