CHIBA, Japan--A handful of tablets are on display at Ceatec 2010, though most of them are still firmly in the idea stage.
Of the major consumer electronics manufacturers here showing touch-screen tablet devices, only Sharp's Galapagos seems close to being a real product. Fujitsu's was kept under glass and clearly labeled "prototype," and Toshiba's had few details beyond its use of Android as the OS.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab is here, though it is part of wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo's booth because Samsung does not display at Ceatec. Even without the manufacturer's presence, the tablet's (and Galaxy S smartphone's) area was one of the more crowded today. That's probably because the Galaxy Tab is the real deal: it goes on sale here next month.
Japan's version of the just-announced BlackBerry Playbook, NEC's Lifetouch tablet, showed up in mobile carrier KDDI's booth too. It goes on sale this month here in Japan, but it's not a consumer device like the rest of these are intended to be. Instead it's an Android-based enterprise tablet that businesses can buy for their employees.
Sharp's Galapagos, pictured at right, like many tablet competitors out there, bears a strong resemblance to Apple's iPad. The Galapagos comes in two sizes: 5.5 inches and 10.8 inches. The only difference besides the size of the touch-screen display: the physical buttons. The smaller version has a BlackBerry-esque trackball, while the larger has a left/right click button that functions as a back and home button.
The Galapagos is primarily meant for reading digital books and magazines, but also supports a mail program, Web browsing, photo viewing, and TV and video watching. In conjunction with today's introduction of the device, Sharp also announced a dedicated Galapagos online store for books. Meanwhile, Tsutaya--the Japanese equivalent of Blockbuster--provides the video content available to rent on the tablet.
Sharp plans to release the device in December in Japan, though price tag hasn't been divulged. Other markets, including the U.S., could see this during the first half of 2011.
Other tablets here:
Updated Oct. 5 at 11:10 p.m. PDT.