By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
NEW YORK — The tablet market will face competition from within and without in the fourth quarter.
Competition from without comes from the growing selection of big-screen smartphones called phablets, defined by some analysts as smartphones with screen sizes of between 4.6 to 5.5 inches in size, though Samsung in August brought the 6.3-inch Galaxy Mega smartphone/tablet hybrid to the U.S. market through AT&T.
Other new phablets hitting the market include LG’s flagship G2, arriving in the U.S. in September with edge-to-edge 5.2-inch screen. And at IFA 2013 in Berlin, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Note 3 phablet, whose predecessor sported a 5.5-inch screen.
Competition from within comes from the planned fourth-quarter availability of Windows 8.1 upgrades, designed to overcome objections to the first Windows 8 tablets and make them more competitive with Apple and Android tablets that are expected soon.
On top of that, LG is re-entering the tablet market in the U.S. Kobo and Archos are expanding their tablet lineups, Samsung is launching its first kid’s-oriented tablet, and Lenovo launched a new model, and Sony began offering an unlocked LTE-equipped version of its Xperia Tablet Z.
IDC expects worldwide growth in the fourth quarter and boosted year-over-year sales. But it still lowered its worldwide tablet forecast for 2013, in large part because of “growing competition from larger smartphones and the prospect of new categories, such as wearable devices diverting customer spending,” said IDC research director Tom Mainelli.
Nonetheless, for the holiday selling season, Mainelli expects “the fourth quarter to be the biggest ever in the U.S.” For the full year, Mainelli expects U.S. shipments to hit 62.7 million, up 25 percent from 2012’s 50.2 million and up from 2011’s 34.4 million.
Here are new tablets hitting the market in time for holiday sales:
Archos went to IFA 2013 in Berlin to expand its smartphone and tablet selection with more powerful quad-core tablets and with new themed tables for kids and gamers.
The tablets and some smartphones will arrive in the U.S. later this year, said marketing director Craig Terblanche.
The tablets include a new Platinum range of tablets with Android 4.2, quad-core processors, aluminum chassis, wireless display technology and IPS screens with up to 2,048 by 1,536 resolution.
The Archos 101xs2 tablet, also with quadcore processor, is intended for media playback and productivity applications. It will feature HD IPS screen, front-facing stereo speakers and magnetic keyboard.
The 80 ChildPad, 101 ChildPad and Gamepad 2 were shown at IFA. For the first time, Archos’ themed tablets will offer a homescreen app developed by Archos to curate the more than 1 million apps inside of Google Play.
The new ChildPad tablets will feature a user interface designed for kids, Google Play filtered for kids, full parental controls, and Android 4.2.
Kobo dove deeper into tablets, launching three Google-certified Android color tablets, unveiling a new black-and-white e-reader, and unveiling new services. The new devices will join the company’s current models.
The three color tablets feature new Reading Life user interface and Reading mode function for heavy readers. The Arc 10HD, Arc 7 HD and Arc 7 — all with Android 4.2.2 — will be available in October around the world.
The 16GB $399-suggested Arc 10 features 10-inch HD 2,560 by1,600 display with 300 ppi. The 7-inch Arc 7HD is priced at $199 for the 16GB edition and $249 for the 32GB edition with 1,920 by 1,200 resolution and 223 ppi.
A third tablet, the $149-suggested 8GB Arc 7, is designed for first-time users and features a 7-inch 1,024 by 600 display. It joins the current Arc, which starts at $199 for an 8GB version with 7-inch HD screen.
Arc 10HD features include 1.8GHz quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, front-facing 1.3-megapixel HD camera, dual stereo speakers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and Miracast.
The Arc 7HD features 1.7GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and a front-facing 1.3-megapixel HD camera. And the new Arc 7 features MTK 8125 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, and 1GB RAM.
The trio’s Reading Life user interface that sits on top of Android to display a home page filled with a user’s books and magazines. The homescreen can be swiped to one side to reveal the traditional Android UI.
Lenovo’s Android 4.2 S5000 is a 7-inch tablet powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core pro cessor. Features include 1GB of DDR2 memory, 16GB of storage, display resolution of 1,280 by 880, and more than six hours of battery life. The device weighs in at 8.7 ounces and is 0.3 inches thick. It’s equipped with a 1.6-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera.
Shipping and price were not announced as of press time, but availability in time for holiday sales is expected.
LG reentered the tablet market at IFA, where it showed an 8.3-inch Android tablet that will be rolled out globally in North America, Europe, Asia as well as other regions starting in the fourth quarter. Pricing of the LG G Pad 8.3 was not announced.
The Android 4.2.2 device is promoted as the first 8-inch tablet with FullHD display. The device features 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU, 8.3-inch WUXGA 1,920 by 1,200 display with 273 ppi, 2GB RAM, 16GB embedded memory, 4,600 mAh battery, rear 5-megapixel camera, 1.3-megapixel front camera, and black or white color. It measures 8.5 inches by 5 inches by 0.3 inches and weighs 11.9 ounces.
The tablet features QPair, which enables calls and messages received on LG and other suppliers’ smartphones to appear on the G Pad (Jelly Bean OS recommended). Notes created on the G Pad’s QMemo app can be saved to users’ smartphones and shared from either device.
Another feature, Slide Aside, enables users to multitask by “sliding” currently open apps off to the side via a three-finger swipe QSlide controls up to three different apps in one window. Knock- ON turns the device on and off by tapping the display twice.
LG’s first foray into tablets came in 2011, when it launched the 8.9-inch 3D Optimus Pad, which captured 3D video in 720p for viewing with 3D glasses.
Samsung will compete with a growing number of kids’ tablets with the introduction of its first kid-targeted tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids.
The yellow-color tablet will feature preloaded Samsung- designed educational apps, parental controls, and access to applications available through the Kids Samsung Apps store. The tablet will also access Google Play and feature Google services. Pricing wasn’t disclosed.
The 7-inch Android 4.1 tablet will be available in Korea in early September followed by the U.S. and other countries.
An optional Kids Case offers a kids-friendly grip and multiple stand options. The case comes with a C Pen for drawing on the tablet.
The Wi-Fi-equipped tablet features 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, WSVGA 1,024 by 600 RFT display, and 8GB internal memory plus 32GB MicroSD slot.
Sony’s 10.1-inch Xperia Tablet Z became available in the U.S. with embedded LTE for the first time, joining Wi-Fi versions of the tablet. The unlocked tablet is available in a 16GB version for an everyday $629 at Sony stores and online at Store.Sony.com/Tablet.
The tablet is promoted as the thinnest and lightest LTEequipped tablet.
Features include international roaming capability, quadcore processor for speed, and nearfield communication (NFC) technology with One-Touch Connection, which lets users wirelessly transfer content to compatible TVs, smartphones and speakers with one tap.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.