Well, another CES has come and gone, and I must admit, I was very disappointed with the overall tablet showcase this year compared to last year. This isn’t to say that CES wasn’t a great show overall (especially with the announcements from Ford and Motorola), but rather, just that I was underwhelmed by what was shown in the tablet space.
From the Apple rumour front, there was the iPad 2 case reveals, which really didn’t say more than the existence of a second camera. Naturally, a lot of other devices or services were announced that revolved around the iPad, but none of which were really dedicated to the platform. What disappointed me most above all else, though, was the lack of the crazy or drool-worthy iPad peripherals that should have been. Where are the wall-dockable picture frames I can mount my iPad to? Or where’s my mobile home entertainment or automation solution built completely around the tablet? CES is all about pushing the envelop on consumer electronics, and showing regular folks like you and I what technology looks like this year. Unfortunately, it just seems like this year looks a lot like last year; lots of Android devices and little to push the boundaries of our imagination.
Speaking of Android devices and competition, I was even further disappointed by this year’s showing than that of last year! With the undisputed success of the iPad, it simply appears that most competitors have flocked to become the best iPad clone rather than focusing on creating a clever device that could be a true rival. It angers me that the tablet space has suddenly become an arms race over better specs, faster processor speed, or the number of processors running the next (and still unconfirmed) version of Android. Hardware manufacturers need to stick their heads out of the sand and look at each other. There is no possible way that the market can support so many different undifferentiated devices. At least in the smartphone space, there are a variety of form factors, features, designs and price points available to have dozens, if not hundreds, of Android phones.
This brings me to the Blackberry Playbook. I’ll have to swallow my pride on this one. Despite being a Canadian company, RIM has always been a company I’ve been very bearish about. They haven’t really been much of an innovator, and their only saving graces are BBM and BES. With the Playbook, however, they may stand a chance in the tablet space. The UI is clever and can only improve with their recent acquisition of Swedish design firm The Astonishing Tribe. If RIM can attract and retain developers like Apple has to all of their devices, they could become a real contender in this space.
Not to be the bearer of doom and gloom, however, there are a few other beacons of hope that came out of CES. For iPad gamers, there’s the Fling controller from Ten1 designs (pre-orders available here). This is an extraordinarily simple set of suction cups that attach to the iPad screen, which acts as a set of joysticks for your favorite games. It’d be golden if they come up with an iPhone or iPod version sometime in the future.
From an iPad competitor perspective, there’s the Motorola Atrix with keyboard-screen dock. This new phone can be docked into a dummy netbook shell for portable computing. It’s a neat concept for certain, and imagine what your iPhone would be like if it can be docked to a MacBook Air or iPad shell. The possibilities make me drool in anticipation.
So while CES was somewhat of a bust from my point of view, there’s still hope on the horizon. Macworld Expo is only a few short weeks away, and I hope that’s where most of the wild and new iPad peripherals will be showcased. A man can dream, no?
How did you feel about the announcements at CES? Were you as disappointed as I was! Or was there something that caught your eye you want to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.
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