5 Anti-iPads, or Tablets to Forget

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, organizers estimated that more than 100 new tablet devices hit the showroom floor, all vying for a piece of the market dominated by Apple's ( AAPL) iPad.

With Gartner forecasting the number of tablets sold worldwide this year to increase 181% over last year, consumers also have a lot more to choose from. Poised to potentially take a bite out of Apple's share are Google ( GOOG) Android-powered tablets from Motorola Mobility ( MMI), Samsung and Acer. Dozens more will hit store shelves, too.
Apple

But while competition and consumer choice is good for any market, analysts say that it's far more likely that we'll see more tablet failures than successes this year.

"Tablets are in the spotlight now, like netbooks once were," said ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr, who compares the tablet market to the netbook sector of a few years ago, when consumers rushed to buy the inexpensive computers that inundated the market. Many customers, he said, were largely disappointed with the products' low quality. "The tablet market will perform well this year as a whole, but not every product will perform well."

The gadget makers that want to see their wares survive will need to differentiate on more than just price, said Dmitriy Molchanov, an analyst with Yankee Group.

Vizio, for example, has positioned its VIA Tablet not as a traditional tablet, but as a connected home device, he said. The tablet's interface is the same as on Vizio's new TVs to give a unified experience across both devices, and it can function as a remote control.

Platform is another important factor for tablets, Molchanov said, as most consumers want flexible software that they can personalize.

He cited what HTC has done to set its Android smartphones apart from the pack. The company has developed a special user interface called HTC Sense -- a customized skin and widgets like social network aggregation feeds, special mapping features and camera applications.

While the company hasn't officially announced plans for a tablet, it's rumored to be readying its tablet, the HTC Scribe, for launch this quarter.

So which tablets should you avoid? We surveyed first-hand reviews from some of tech's most popular blogs for the details on what makes the following devices likely to be duds.

MSI's WindPad 100W and 100A

Tech blogs panned MSI's two tablets, one powered by Microsoft ( MSFT) Windows 7 and the other by Google's Android.

The 100A is the Android and features a 10-inch screen, an ARM ( ARMH) processor and WiFi connectivity -- with a 3G option available.

"If you ask us, an Android 2.2 tablet with these specs is going to be a hard sell in a post-CES 2011 world," said Engadget.

The 100W, which runs on the Windows 7 platform, also has a 10-inch screen and weighs 1.76 lbs. It has the same functions as the Android-powered device, but has an Intel ( INTC) processor and a 32GB hard drive, and will be available sometime in the next few months for $499.

The device is "pokey," Ars Technica said, despite having 2GB of RAM.

Although MSI touts the WindPad's light weight, the tablets feel cheap, said I4U News, calling the device "the worst tablet of CES 2011."

Maylong's M-150

Maylong's M-150 7 inch Android-powered tablet is considered a budget device, retailing for $99. According to the blogs that have reviewed it, you get what you pay for.

While the tablet supports web-browsing and includes a video camera and WiFi, "it barely functions at all," said ZDNet .

The M-150's touch-screen capabilities are "incredibly slow" and you have to apply a lot of pressure on the screen for the tablet to sense that you've touched it, said ZDNet.

The M-150 also runs on an outdated Android 1.6 operating system and has a battery life of 2-3 hours. In comparison, the iPad has a 10-hour battery life.

After purchasing the M-150, Best Buy's blog BBYOpen posted a series of photos showcasing several different uses for the device, including using it as a coaster, a cutting board and a mouse pad.

Dell Inspiron Duo

The Dell ( DELL) Inspiron Duo. Is it a tablet or a netbook? The 10-inch tablet opens up on its hinge, exposing a physical keyboard so that users can both touch and type.

While PCMag praised the Inspiron's aesthetics and keyboard, the user experience "takes a turn for the worse" when it's in tablet mode. The tablet uses Windows 7 software that isn't as responsive to touch as Google's Android and Apple's iOS, the review said.

Laptop Magazine criticized the device's battery life -- less than 4 hours -- as well as its lack of connections compared to most netbooks. The tablet has two USB ports and a headphone jack, but you'll need to buy an optional $100 speaker dock to get Ethernet or a media card reader.

The 3.4-lb device is also too heavy, Engadget said.

Overall, said Engadget, "the Duo ends up being pulled in too many directions and suffers from its own unique mobile identity crisis."

The Inspiron costs $550 and features an Intel Atom Dual Core processor, WiFi connectivity and 2GB of RAM.

Entourage eDGe

The Entourage eDGe, a tablet and e-book reader hybrid, is targeted at students looking to read books, take notes, record lectures and browse the web in one device.

PCMag says the machine is overly ambitious. "In trying to do so much, the eDGe succeeds at few tasks," it said.

Despite its many features, CNET said it's "an awkward, sprawling mess."

CNET also criticized the device's weight, at three pounds -- that's "as much as five Amazon ( AMZN) Kindles," it said.

Retailing at $550, the eDGe features 4GB of internal memory, WiFI and more than 11 hours of battery power utilizing the e-reader, or up to 6 hours using the tablet.

Elonex/Next 7-inch Media Tablet

Elonex has teamed up with British clothes retailer Next, and the results, said tech bloggers, are disastrous.

The 7-inch Elonex tablet is cripplingly slow, PCPro said, even on a fast WiFi connection.

The Android-powered device lacks support for Android Market, its touch-screen is largely unresponsive and the battery life is less than 2 hours PCPro said. (Elonex claims the battery life to be around 3.5 hours.)

PCPro called it "the worst tablet we've ever seen."

The tablet, which retails for around $150, has 2GB of storage and runs on an LNX processor.

--Written by Olivia Oran in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/Ozoran.

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