tablet stories

 
Building a tablet in today's climate is hard. You'll either be called out for being a copycat by consumers or officially called out by Apple — the leading tablet maker — for blatantly ripping off its vague design patents. Since Apple set the precedent for what a modern tablet (not one of those bulky tablet PCs that Bill Gates dreamed up a decade ago), there's an expectation that a finger-friendly touchscreen tablet should be thin, light and start at $500 (or less if you're not an iPad). And even though Samsung is still knee-deep in some lawsuits that span courtrooms around the globe with its larger Galaxy Tab 10.1, it still fired up the factories to pump out the smaller Galaxy Tab 8.9 to sell in the U.S. To rival the iPad 2 is a tough task. Motorola's Xoom tried. RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook tried. A sea of cheap Android tablets tried. The only one who seems prepared to bring the entire ecosystem of content and hardware is Amazon and its Kindle Fire next month. Is the Galaxy 8.9 the tablet that finally gives the iPad 2 a run for its money? Maybe, maybe not.
 
With a little under a month to go before people start receiving their 7-inch Kindle Fire tablets, the canceled 10-inch version is rising back from the rumor graveyard, with a reported release date set for mid-2012. Would a Kindle Fire with a larger screen keep you from pre-ordering the 7-inch one?
 
Amazon dropped a truckload's worth of Kindles today — from touchscreen models to ultra cheap ones. The Kindle that stole the show? The Kindle Fire tablet, of course. Now that we've had some time to ponder over what we saw today, we're coming back with features we love — and features that worry us — about the Fire. Somebody get some water, it's hot in here!
 
GameStop, both a brick-and-mortar game-seller as well as a company with digital ambitions, is adding one more goal to its near-future plate: its very own game-focused tablet. With the 3DS flagging and your average tablet already plenty capable of running games, one has to wonder: why?
 
Desperate for the lion's share of the tablet market, HP's supposedly planning its own seven-inch tablet to steal some thunder off Apple's hit iPad 2. Can a smaller WebOS tablet see success where the recently launched TouchPad has seen a permanent $100 drop in price?
 
It's one thing to be able to shop for their groceries on train platforms, but it's another to have tablets built into supermarket shopping carts. SK Telecom's pilot program in Shanghai's Lotus Supermarkets pack tablets that sync to your smartphone and blast out coupons and discounts while you shop. Snazzy.
 
Call me old-fashioned, but my big hang-up with the iPad is that it doesn't like to connect to things. Sure you can use Bluetooth, WiFi, or the ubiquitous Apple dock connector, but that leaves a lot of things that simply can't talk directly to the iPad. Lenovo's upcoming Honeycomb based ThinkPad tablet fixes that problem, by giving you a whole slew of actual ports.

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