Optical/IP Networks

CES 2012: The Ultra Tablet Show

8:00 AM -- LAS VEGAS -- 2012 International CES -- As much as Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) wants ultrabooks to steal the scene at this year's consumer gadget show, tablets will continue to be the more exciting light-weight computer to keep track of -- at least for us mobile-minded folks.

Last year, I outlined my tablet-feature wish list, but this year it's time to get real. The market is growing beyond just Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), and 2012 will be the year the iPad sees real competition.

Tablet makers have learned from high-profile failures, like the HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) TouchPad and BlackBerry PlayBook, that high-priced, under-performing tablets aren't going to gain traction. I'd expect to see lower prices on all but the highest-end devices. (See 2011 Top Ten: Tablet Triumphs & Tragedies.)

In terms of features and performance, here's what else I'd bet on:
  • The first Windows 8 tablets: my guess is Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer will show off a crop of tablets to go with its newest OS in what will be his last time on stage at CES
  • Quad-core: Dual-core was so 2011. Tablets not sporting quad-core chipsets will be behind the times
  • Long Term Evolution (LTE): Wireless connectivity will by no means be a requirement in tablets yet, but if it's got a network, it had better be 4G now that Verizon Wireless , AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and soon Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) have networks to show off
  • Tablets will be tasty at CES, with Ice Cream Sandwich as the operating system du jour, separating the overachieving Android tablets from the pack
  • Tablet apps: OK, it's not a developer show, but I just got an iPad, and I want more tablet-optimized apps! Perhaps AT&T's developer conference before the show will help me out
  • Enterprising tablets: RIM didn't play it's cards right when it launched the PlayBook, but I expect a least a few manufacturers to tackle the enterprise market with new form factors optimized for professionals

CES is always good for a few surprises, too. Let us know what you're looking forward to (or dreading) in Vegas in the comments section.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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