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Android tablets finding their niche as market heats up

by Kristen Nicole

Android tablets have yet to make serious headway against the iPad, but the market is expected to go the route of Android smartphones and diversify around price, features and availability. Even as we await the release of Android Ice Cream Sandwich, a number of mobile device makers are looking to put their own stamp on Android tablets. Motorola comes with an enterprise tablet for business users, while Huawei has developed a budget-friendly Android tab for T-Mobile. With CTIA also kicking off this week, a number of smartphones were unveiled, including the Motorola Atrix 2, a powerful sequel to its original dual-core smartphone released earlier this year.

Motorola ET1

Not only is the Motorola ET1 designed for the workforce, it’s built strong, too. The rugged tablet design comes with a Gorilla Glass display that’s 30 percent thicker than most tablets making it able to withstand the bumps and drops that come with regular use. The added strength also means added weight: the ET1 is 1.4 lbs. It comes with a 9.7-inch screen, has front and rear cameras for videoconferencing, supports Wi-Fi only, and runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Further appealing to business workers, the device can support multiple users with their own profiles, and batteries can be swapped out without shutting down the device. No exact details on pricing yet, but for businesses buying in bulk, each ET1 will cost less than $1,000.

Huawei Springboard for T-Mobile

Unveiled at this week’s CTIA conference in San Diego, Huawei’s Springboard tablet packs a good amount of features into a lightweight body. At 14 ounces, the Springboard is pretty thin, and its aluminum body is a nice departure from Huawei’s typical plastic smartphones. The device comes with a 7-inch screen with 1280 x 800 resolution, a 5-megapixel camera on the rear and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. The Springboard is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and support T-Mobile’s HSPA 14.4 network. Running Honeycomb 3.2, the Springboard is as ready as it can be for the Android tablet market. No price details yet, but Huawei is known for its budget-friendly devices.

Motorola Atrix 2

The Atrix 2 is a 1GHz dual-core Android device supporting AT&T’s HSPA+ network. With a 4.3-inch screen, a qHD 960 x 540 display and 1080p video recording, Motorola’s latest device runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Featuring an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash, the Atrix 2 comes with Motorola’s Lapdock accessory, a trend targeting business users, even though they haven’t gotten the best reviews.

LG Optimus LTE

Competing with fellow Korean handset maker Samsung, LG revealed the Optimus LTE to go up against its rival’s flagship Galaxy S model. The No. 3 device manufacturer makes an ambitious attempt with the Optimus LTE, boasting a 4.5-inch HD screen, an 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. Powered by Qualcomm’s 1.5GHz dual core processor, the Optimus LTE runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. It’s a big move into the 4G market, and with a solid hardware offering, LG is betting big on the Optimus release. No details on pricing or carrier availability, but the Optimus LTE is expected to hit international stores in the coming weeks.