Android tablet market heats up with IFA debuts

by Kristen Nicole

With the IFA comsumer electronics event getting started in Berlin, there’s enough new Android gadgets to make you drool. The big manufacturers are taking the opportunity to introduce some new devices, marking a new chapter in Android’s tablet evolution. Not surprisingly, Samsung’s leading the charge with the unveiling of its latest tablet, the Galaxy Note. It’s the newest member of the broadening Galaxy family, and it’s also an experiment in gadget size. With a 5.3-inch screen and Android Gingerbread 2.3, the Note acts more like a large phone. On the bright side, it comes with a dual-core 1.4GHz processor, a Super AMOLED screen, an 8-megapixel primary camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Wi-Fi and HSPA+ networks are supported.

Samsung putting its apps on more devices

The smaller screen size didn’t work out well for Dell, which recently shut down production on its 5-inch Streak tablet running an older version of Android. But Samsung’s focused on portability here, and it’s packing a lot of new features in hopes you’ll look past its size and OS shortcomings.

The Galaxy Note comes with a stylus pen called the S Pen, which is designed to offer more freedom around content creation on the device. It also comes with the S Memo app, which keeps your handwritten notes and drawings. Here, you can also store photos, voice recordings and text, similar to the Evernote-Skitch combo sealed by the former’s acquisition of the annotation app last month. The stylus pen is a growing trend amongst tablet manufacturers, bringing back the early days of PDAs. The inclusion of more Samsung-centric apps is another way in which Samsung is integrating its hardware and software, which seems to be of increasing importance for Samsung as it faces competition from its main partners, Apple and Google. Talk about frenemies.

Tablet debuts for Sony, HTC

IFA also revealed debut Android tablets from Sony and HTC, both manufacturers delivering Android Honeycomb devices for AT&T. While the Sony S and P tablets come with a fair feature line-up and are priced right (both under $600), HTC’s Jetstream is a whopping $699 with a two-year contract, which may price itself right out of the market. AT&T’s certainly a strong competitor in the Android tablet race so far, but competition amongst manufacturers will continue to heat up, as the tablet market presents a whole new world to conquer. With so much variety emerging around Android tablets, we’re finally starting to see some reasonable offerings from Android’s OS and manufacturer’s releases.