We all know the Apple iPad sits atop the 10-inch tablet market like an MMA fighter straddling the octagon fence after a first-round TKO. That fight is over, for now, but the battle for 7-inch supremacy is still going strong and our new favorite contender is the Google Nexus 7, made by Asus. Since we now have two favorite tablets, and room for only one in our man purse, we must settle this the old-fashioned way—with a tab blood-letting.
With just a few days left to go until the release of Windows 8 and the Microsoft-built Surface tablets, the Redmond-based company has donned its marketing hat. While the jury is still out on the amount Microsoft has earmarked for the Windows 8 marketing campaign, it is likely to be a large sum (some reports peg it at over $1 billion), especially considering how much Microsoft has riding on these two products. But wait, what exactly does Microsoft have “riding” on them?
Few would argue that Windows 8 is a radical departure from a software perspective, however this generation it won’t just be Microsoft looking to set new trends. Redmond’s hardware partners are gearing up fast for the October 26th release date, and Dell has started taking pre-orders for its new XPS 12 convertible Windows 8 tablet/Ultrabook.
Look out Intel, because Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) also intends to wrestle ARM in the mobile space. The Sunnyvale chip designer just unveiled a new Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) designed for performance tablets and small form factor (SFF) PCs, the AMD Z-60. It's a low power chip that promises all-day battery life along with "stunning graphics" and support for the latest Windows 8 applications, AMD says.
Want to know why hardware and software makers are putting so much emphasis into the mobile market? It's because the mobile market is a ginormous freight train that keeps picking up passengers along the way. According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) and The Economist Group, 22 percent of all adults living in the U.S. own a tablet, 44 percent own a smartphone, and half of them own either one.
In what's being described as "just the beginning of Intel's effort in the tablet market," the world's largest chip maker unveiled its Atom Z2760 processor (codenamed Clover Trail) for Windows 8 tablets. According to Intel, the spunky Atom chip allows for the thinnest, lightest tablets built on the company's architecture -- as thin as 8.5 mm and 1.5 pounds -- and lends itself to long lasting battery life, enough to watch 10 hours of local HD video.
Amazon found itself in a bit of hot water with potential customers last week when it was revealed that new Kindle Fire tablets would ship with home screen ads on by default. The decision to not allow people to purchase a slightly more expensive model without “special offers” flew in the face of the companies pre-existing policies, and represented yet another shift in the company’s ongoing razor and razor blade business model for digital media. In response to all the controversy, Amazon has quickly changed direction, and has agreed to scrap ads for a modest $15 fee.
Amazon may have ignited a price war with the introduction of new Kindle Fire models starting at $159, and $199 (and up) for the HD variants. However, the low prices come with a couple of caveats. First and foremost. every new Kindle Fire tablet comes with what Amazon calls "special offers" that appear on the lock screen. These are essentially ads in the form of money saving offers. Secondly, if you want a wall charger, that's a $10 add-on. Let's take a closer look.
We already know that the Windows RT version of Microsoft’s Surface tablet will make its retail debut on October 26, the same day as Windows 8’s global release, but surprisingly not a lot is known about third-party devices running the ARM-friendly flavor of Windows at this stage, with the Asus Tablet 600 being about the only confirmed third-party Windows RT device as of now. Now, Microsoft is requesting just a bit more patience from those currently holding their breath, as other vendors are expected to unveil their Windows RT offerings very soon.