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:
- 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.
James Diaz, also known as Cybergusa reviewed a few new solid state disk options for us this year.
- MyDigitalSSD 64GB 50mm Bullet Proof mSATA SSD – This isn’t the fastest mSATA SSD around, but it offers the best price per storage capacity ratio.
- Renice K3VLAR 50mm mSATA SSD – It’s probably faster than what you’re using now, assuming your device can handle an mSATA SSD, but the K3VLAR SSd isn’t cheap, with prices starting at $120 for 30GB.
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.