iPads and the like can be incredibly handy... when you're around things like Wi-Fi, cellular towers, and electricity. For those times when you're not, there's the Earl Backcountry Survival Tablet ($250). Designed specifically for use in the wilderness, it offers features like a 1024 x 768 6" flexible E-Ink screen with the ability to double as an emergency lantern, a built-in AM/FM/SW/LW radio tuner, an IP67 rated water/dust/shock/mud-proof design, an integrated solar panel, internal weather sensors, a FRS, GMRS and MURS transceiver for use as a two-way radio, and a glove-friendly infrared touchscreen. Combined with the robust GPS hardware, Bluetooth 4.0, and Android 4.1, it's a uniquely qualified piece of kit that could quickly become indispensable on your next outdoor adventure.
The name is a little confusing — it has absolutely nothing to do with Wikipedia, Wikilinks, or any other traditional Wiki, as far as we can tell — but that doesn't mean the Wikipad ($250) isn't worth a look. Built with gaming in mind, the Wikipad features a 7-inch HD screen, a Nvidia Tegra 3 processor with quad-core GPU, a built-in gyroscope, compass, and accelerometer, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 16GB of internal storage with a MicroSD slot for expansion, GPS, and built-in stereo speakers. The biggest feature, however, is the detachable game controller that gives you a proper D-pad, dual analog sticks, and Playstation Mobile certification.
As anyone with an iPad and a stand can tell you, having a tablet in the kitchen can be mighty handy. The Qooq Tablet ($400) is designed specifically for kitchen use, as it is splash proof, heat and humidity resistant, sports a retractable support that serves as a stand, and can be used with greased up hands — just clean it with a damp cloth when you're done. Other features include a 10.1-inch screen, an ARM Cortex A9 processor, 8 GB of memory, built-in Wi-Fi, and a customized interface that's tailored to kitchen use, with a meal planner, browser for accessing cooking websites, and a built-in virtual cookbook.
Step aside, iPad. Built by Samsung, the Google Nexus 10 ($400) is the new tablet resolution king with an insane 2560 x 1600 10.055*-inch screen. Other features include long-haul battery life — up to nine hours of video playback and over 500 of standby time — front-facing stereo speakers, Android 4.2, NFC support, a 5 MP rear camera and 1.9 MP webcam, a dual-core A15 processor, 16GB of storage, and all the other extras you'd expect. *Really guys? Let's just round that down to 10 and call it a day.
In its never ending fight to gain control of the world, Google, with the help of Asus, has announced the Google Nexus 7 ($200-$250). Powered by Android 4.1, this less-than-a-pound tablet features a 7-inch 1280x800 HD display, front-facing camera, the Tegra-3 chipset with a quad-core CPU and 12-core GPU (good for gaming), and comes in 8GB and 16GB flavors. It packs in all of the standard Google apps and works seamlessly with all of the Google Play content. And it is said to get over 8 hours of HD video playback, 10 hours of web browsing, or 10 hours of e-reading. Hey Apple, where's our iPad mini?
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2010 was supposed to be the year of the tablet. Then 2011. But it looks like 2012 might just live up to the billing. The Nook HD & HD+ ($200-$300) are the latest slates to be announced this fall, offering 7- and 9-inch HD displays, 1.3- and 1.5-GHz dual-core processors, 1GB of RAM, and between 8GB and 32GB of onboard storage. Of course, they also offer full access to Barnes & Noble's catalog of books, magazines, apps, and videos, and as a bonus, they offer a new Nook Profiles feature that lets you easily share your tablet with others without fear of them accessing personal content.
You didn't think Amazon was going to update its old-school Kindles and leave its tablets alone, did you? The Kindle Fire HD ($200-$600) offers a range of sizes and features for Prime-oriented slate shoppers. At the low end, we have an upgraded version of last year's 7-incher, with a new non-Playbook-y design, 1280x800 display, Dolby audio with stereo speakers, dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi, a dual-core processor, 16GB of storage, and an upgraded software experience. Moving up the line, you'll find a new 8.9-inch version, packing the same features along with a 1920x1200 screen, and at the high end, you'll find that same, larger model with 64GB of storage and LTE networking. Something tells us there's going to be a lot of tablet unwrapping going on this holiday season.
What's our biggest beef with the Kindle? Same thing it was on day one: the lack of a backlight. The Kindle Paperwhite ($120-$180) is here to change all that. It's based on an all-new touch display tech that offers 25% more contrast and 62% more pixels — 212 ppi, for the resolution geeks out there — and uses a patented light guide to spread LED light across the surface just like ambient light. Other features include a 9mm, 7.5 oz. body, 8-week battery life, a refreshingly dark paint scheme, and optional free 3G wireless networking. Arriving in October.
We knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it any less of a
small big deal. The iPad mini ($330-$660) is the long-awaited smaller sibling to Apple's blockbuster tablet. Sporting an aluminum body that's just 7.2mm thin and weighs just 0.68 pounds, it still manages to pack in a 7.9-inch display, an A5 processor, a 5MP iSight camera, a front-facing FaceTime HD camera, and Apple's new Lightning connector. Available in black or white, and arriving November 2.
Leave it to the boys in Redmond to make purchasing a tablet confusing. The new Microsoft Surface Tablets ($TBA) will come in two varieties: one with an ARM processor running Windows RT, and one with an Intel processor running Windows 8 Pro. The RT model sports a 10.6-inch HD display, microSD slot, USB 2.0, a Micro HD video port, and your choice of 32GB or 64GB of storage, while the Pro model features a 10.6-inch Full HD display, a microSDXC slot, USB 3.0, a Mini DisplayPort video port, and either 64GB or 128GB of storage. No matter which one you choose, you'll be able to attach the magnetic Touch Cover or Type Cover to add a keyboard to the otherwise touchscreen device. But don't go losing your shit just yet — no release date and no prices were given.
eReaders built around ePaper displays are great — until the sun goes down and you find yourself propping lamps in strange positions in order to get a light on the things. Now, you could just get yourself a Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight ($140) instead. This new six-inch eReader sports a built-in light that gets diffused across the entire screen for an even reading experience, as well as the touchscreen interface, built-in Wi-Fi, and microSD features of the standard Nook Touch.
It's been less than two years since the iPad first landed, but Apple is ready to make the only tablet worth buying even better. Headlining the list of new features on the iPad 3 ($500-$830) is the drool-worthy Retina display, which densely packs in enough pixels that the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels when held at a reading distance — you know, like that iPhone 4 in your pocket. The new iPad and that crazy screen is powered by a high performance A5X chip with quad-core graphics (which is still is smart enough to deliver 10 hour battery life). There's also a slick 5 megapixel iSight camera with 1080p HD video recording capability. And for the first time, you can get built-in support for AT&T's and Verizon's 4G LTE networks. Apple also today introduced the iPhoto app, along with major updates to iMovie and GarageBand, completing its suite of iLife apps for iOS. Like always, the latest iPad is available in black or white. It comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities. It will be available on March 16th.