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By 11 January 2010 | Categories: news

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The 33rd annual Consumer Electronic Show held in Las Vegas is done and dusted for another year, and in its wake a roadmap to where electronics is heading for the foreseeable future is plain for all to see. One of the biggest trends for 2010 at CES doesn’t involve notebooks or even netbooks, but rather the often slated tablet PC. Rumours of an Apple tablet device, said to be called the iSlate, loomed large over the exhibition, and although Apple didn't attend CES the word “slate” seems to have stuck, with it being adopted to refer to this new breed of tablet devices.

HP Slate
HP was first out the blocks to release such a device with an endorsement from none other than Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, showcasing the HP Slate tablet in his keynote address. The Slate sports Windows 7 and seems to be an internet connected device lying somewhere between an ereader and a netbook. According to Balmer “We're talking about something that's almost as portable as a phone and as powerful as a PC running Windows 7.” He also called the Slate “(…) a beautiful little product”.  The least amount of information possible (or so it would seem) has been released about the Slate, with HP likely waiting to see what’s coming from Apple before divulging details. But we do know that it will be touch driven and will be released later this year, although we could not get conformation from HP SA if the device will be made available in SA.

Sony dash
Sony has been a bit more forthcoming with details on their slate device called the dash. The dash is a Wi-Fi enabled 7” “Personal Internet Viewer”, with a widget-based user interface.  It features a 500 MHz processor (lower than some new smartphones) and 256 MB DDR2 DRAM. Also onboard are built-in stereo speakers, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a USB port to access personal files. Sony is punting free access to over a thousand different apps as one of the main features of the device, and at $199 it isn't badly priced.

Lenovo IdeaPad U1
Top honours though (according to the Best of CES awards given by CNET anyways) goes to the sleek IdeaPad U1 hybrid tablet presented by Lenovo. This two-in-one device is a netbook in essence, with the amazing ability to clip off the screen to use it as a slate device. If that’s not interesting enough, it actually sports two different operating systems and two processors. In its netbook form it runs on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and Windows 7 Home Premium, while unclipped it is powered by Qualcomm's 1 GHz Snapdragon processor operating in a Linux environment. To make it switch and sync seamlessly between the different systems Lenovo employs what they call Hybrid Switch Technology.
The yummy U1 with its 11.6” multitouch LED screen weights only 1.6 kg (1 kg unclipped) and sports 3G integrated broadband. It is said to have 128 GB of SSD storage space in netbook form and 16 GB SSD in slate form. You will pay a premium for such privileges though, with the U1 expected to go for $999 in the US with its release scheduled for June this year.

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