2011 reviews

We’ve been following affordable ultraportable computers at Liliputing since netbooks first hit the scene in 2008. While 2011 wasn’t a great year for new and interesting mini-laptops, this is the year when mobile tablets hit the scene. Big time.

A handful of Android-powered portable media devices also hit the scene, finally giving the iPod touch a little competition.

Here’s a roundup of some of the products we’ve given in-depth reviews in 2011:

Tablets

  • Amazon Kindle Fire – For $200 it’s hard to find a better Android tablet, but you’ll have to spend some time hacking if you want to install the Android Market and break out of Amazon’s ecosystem.
  • Asus Eee Pad Slider – This is an interesting 10 inch Android tablet with a slide-out keyboard, which is hampered by its awful keyboard.
  • Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet – More comfortable to hold than the Kindle Fire, the NOOK tablet makes a better eReader. But there are fewer apps readily available for the tablet (unless you root it).
  • ExoPC Slate – ExoPC puts a finger-friendly user interface on top of Windows 7 to make it easier to navigate with a capacitive touchscreen display. But beauty is only skin deep and the tablet’s sluggish CPU can be annoying. Spring for the Samsung Series 7 Slate instead.
  • HTC Flyer – At launch the $599 Flyer tablet seemed overprice, but now that it’s available for around $299 this 7 inch tablet offers pretty much everything that’s missing from the Kindle Fire including removable storage, cameras, and the Android Market… plus a stylus.
  • Motorola XOOM – The first tablet designed to run Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb, the XOOM is a decent, if overpriced piece of hardware.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 – Samsung’s flagship tablet lacks a replaceable battery or even an SD card slot, but it’s thin, light, and fast. The TouchWiz software is actually kind of nice, but otherwise the Tab 10.1 is a lot like other Android tablets.
  • Samsung Series 7 Slate PC – While more expensive than an Android tablet, this slate runs a full version of Windows and has the hardware to fully support it, including an active digitizer and digital pen.
  • Toshiba Thrive – Toshiba dared to think a little different by introducing an Android tablet with PC-like features such as full-sized ports and a removable battery. But it’s thicker and heavier than many competitors.
  • Velocity Micro Cruz T408 – If the T408 hadn’t come out just before the Kindle Fire, it would have been a great value for around $200 or less.
  • Velocity Micro Cruz T410 – Get the 8 inch model. It’s cheaper, lighter, and does nearly everything the 10 inch model does.

Notebooks and netbooks

  • Acer Aspire One 522 netbook – This is the first Acer netbook with an AMD Fusion processor, and while general performance isn’t much different from what you’d expect from an Atom-powered netbook, the graphics capabilities are much better.
  • Asus Eee PC X101 MeeGo netbook – The first netbook to ship for under $200, the X101 breaks a significant price barrier, but the operating system and limited storage hold the netbook back.
  • Asus Eee PC 1215B notebook – With a 12.1 inch display, a full-sized keyboard, and an AMD Fusion processor, the 1215B is larger than a netbook, but much more powerful. It might even be a desktop replacement for some.
  • HP Pavilion dm1z laptop – HP’s AMD Fusion-powered mini-laptops offer a nice design, a good keyboard, and decent, but not spectacular performance.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11 laptop – This model was never released in the US, but I wanted to review a thin and light laptop with an Intel Core i-series processor. I liked it.
  • Samsung NC110 netbook – One of the few new netbooks to hit the street this year, the NC110 is an affordable thin and light mini-laptop with a matte display.
  • Samsung Series 5 Chromebook – Designed to run Chrome OS, the Series 5 is really little but a web browser, a keyboard and a screen. Unfortunately it feels kind of sluggish and it’s not all that useful if you don’t have an internet connection.

Portable Media Players

  • Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0 – The Galaxy Player line of Android handhelds are the first real competitors to the iPod touch. But the five inch model is a little too big for comfort.
  • Skytex Primer Pocket – It’s dirt cheap, but the Primer Pocket can’t run many apps, and those it does run are sluggish. The touchscreen is awful. But it’s not a bad music and movie player.

Storage

James Diaz, also known as Cybergusa reviewed a few new solid state disk options for us this year.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2012 brings to my review desk. With the launch of Intel’s Cedar Trail platform I expect to see a few new netbooks, as well as AMD Fusion-powered laptops. But I know there will also be a big push for ultrabooks with larger screens and more powerful processors.

While I expect to see a few vendors scale back their tablet plans due to the slow sales many companies saw in 2011, I also expect to see a fair number of new tablets in 2012.

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2 replies on “Liliputing’s 2011 mobile device reviews”

  1. I wonder which tablet/device Liliputing readers went with in 2011?  I went with the Xoom.  I’m a little disappointed that the Xoom got hurt with the stigma of being bulky, unstable and pricey because it’s one of the best Honeycomb tablets even though it came out first and it’s $450 for the 32GB version, which is comparable the Transformer’s 32GB version.  It is bulky, but compares well to the first iPad.  It was unstable, but that was Honeycomb’s fault and was fixed long ago.

    Here is hoping that 2012 brings in more advancements in tablets (Apple, Microsoft and Google) and portable computing.  I’m hoping there will be some battery life improvements.  

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