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PC World - It's official: We've entered the tablet age, and 2013 looks to be a great year for slates. Tablets appeared in all forms at the International CES and were just about everywhere you looked--and the noteworthy and innovative models featured Windows 8, not Android, inside.
Tablets were also the focus of discussion for component makers: Every major chip announcement involved jockeying for position in the tablet market, and even storage suppliers waxed poetic about tablets driving the demand for flash storage.
In some ways, the show was defined as much by the absence of new flagship tablets as it was by what was on tap from companies like Archos, Asus, Coby, Efun, Fuhu, Panasonic, Polaroid, Razer, Vivitar, and Vizio. We heard lots about new mobile chips, but the products using those were not ready for the spotlight. This disconnect is why the most intriguing tablet announcements involved existing processors, such as Nvidia's Tegra 3 or Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4, and focused on completely new designs (Asus' Transformer All-in-One, Panasonic's 20-inch prototype tablet).
Rise of Windows 8 tablets
One of the big surprises was just how many of the compelling new tablets incorporated Windows 8. None of the new models used Windows RT on an ARM-based device; instead, these were all x86-based tablets, using either Intel Atom or Core CPUs, or AMD's Z60, in the case of Vizio's Windows 8 tablet. Microsoft's own Surface Pro was unsheathed for media, and that model's release later this month should help boost interest in Windows tablets.
However, this next wave of Windows tablets generally did little to make Windows tablet designs thinner and lighter. Vizio's thin MT11X may have come closest, but the company didn't share details regarding weight and dimensions.
Specialty tablets come of age
At CES 2013, we saw tons of tablets aimed at specific audiences. And in talking toA manufacturers, including product managers from Archos and Panasonic, it was clear that targeted tablets are a growing subcategory.
Panasonic, for instance, forged ahead, expanding its Toughpad lineup of ruggedized tablets for business; with pricing starting at $1299, these look primed for all-weather, all-terrain secure computing.
Gaming-centric tablets are picking up momentum, too. Razer showed its Windows 8 gaming slate, with discrete graphics inside, while Archos showed its GamePad, a petite Android tablet with built-in game controllers. Absent from the show, but theoretically still in the works, is the WikiPad.
Tablets for kids also saw a bump. Fuhu showed off its forthcoming Nabi XD and Nabi Jr., two Android tablets with customized interfaces, physical designs, and apps aimed at the younger set. Polaroid had a kids' tablet on display, with big, rubberized buttons and a sturdier-than-usual case. And Vivitar showed off a very Nexus 7-like 7-inch tablet produced in partnership with the XO One Laptop Per Child initiative. The XO OLPC tablet--a dramatic improvementA over what OLPC had as a "tablet" last year--aims to provide targeted educational experiences through a guided software experience in English and Spanish.
Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.