Tablet Explosion

Photo by Roger Schultz

Ever since the introduction of the iPad, the tablet race has been fascinating to watch. Having all but obliterated the Netbook market (when was the last time you have heard anyone mention one, let alone be excited about one?), the market continues to grow as companies and developers find increasingly useful purposes for the devices. This week alone has seen two major developments.

This week Barnes and Noble took major steps to expand the functionality of their Nook Color E-reader. More expensive than Amazon’s Kindle, but half the price of Apple’s iPad2 the Nook at $249 seems to hit a number of high notes. Upgraded to include Android 2.2 “Froyo”, Flash 10.1 and a limited Nook specific app store the device seems to carve out a niche unto itself stressing both practicality and features at a reasonable price point. If you are an avid reader or would like to be, the device’s support for different document types (PDF, DOC, TXT, EPUB, etc.) make it an interesting choice.

Sony announced this week the introduction of the S1 and S2 tablet devices for this fall. Meant to compete against the likes of the Xoom, iPad2, Blackberry Playbook, and Samsung Galaxy the two devices take a different stance on design. The S1 takes on the standard tablet design while the S2 has a clam shell form factor reminiscent of Microsoft’s Courier tablet concept. Both the S1 and S2 are expected to use Android’s 3.0 “Honeycomb” build. Expectations are high for the devices (although apparently realistic for Sony executives) as the major new releases this year, while plentiful, so far have been underwhelming.

With the introduction or announcement of several high profile devices or upgrades, 2011 really does seem to be the year of the tablet. If you are interested in any of the mobile legal assistance software that has been released in the last year or so, you have many more hardware options than you think.

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