By Claire West

The starting gun for the Christmas gadget race will be fired on November 1st when the Samsung Galaxy tablet will be available from all O₂ stores. This year has witnessed a revolution in the electronic gadget market, with the influx of smartphones and the invasion of the tablet.

Consequently, the world of browsing has changed forever. There are at least 10 new tablets already in or coming in to the market; five for the big brands including the BlackBerry Playbook, Cisco Cius, Avaya Flare, Windows 7, HP Tablet and the Samsung Galaxy. These new additions will engage in battle with Apple’s iPad; the current hot pick of tablets.

With analysts’ claims that the iPad has outsold the launch of other devices and gadgets (including the first ever DVD player), the power of the tablet as an interactive medium is vastly becoming evident. Recent statements have acknowledged its increasing presence in business, and so which tablet is the right tablet stands out as a dominant question.

Mark Seemann, CTO at leading Cloud provider Outsourcery said, “By early 2011, the UK market will be awash with Business Tablets giving much needed competition to Apple’s iPad. Factors that are likely to influence such decisions will include performance, design, connectivity and price. Measuring up these details, it seems most have taken inspiration from the iPad whilst adapting it to represent their own brand.”

BlackBerry is a premium brand when it comes to business mobile devices and if the initial specification of the BlackBerry Playbook is to be believed, then it should prove very popular. Sporting a new QNXoperating system that supports Adobe Flash, HTML5, multi-tasking, Unified Communications in the form of integrated video conferencing, integrated 3G and Wi-Fi and full High Definition video; the Playbook looks seriously fit for purpose. The rumours are that there will be 16GB and 32GB models available at launch.

Unified Communications also features heavily in the forthcoming Cisco Cius, powered by the Android operating system. It offers users video and multi-party conferencing plus a raft of other business features and Cisco’s brand will certainly play well within the business space.

Like the Cius, the Avaya Flare also uses the Android operating system and again majors on multi-media and Unified Communications, providing the user with High Definition Video Conferencing, Presence and SIP (voice over IP) Telephony and can even support multiple simultaneous conferences.

All this activity shows that the tablet PC is here to stay but, as Seemann queries, “How will tablets actually improve business performance and which of the Tablet brands will be a long term success in this space?”

Finally, in the running for tablet warfare are the Windows 7 Tablet PC platform and the plethora of manufacturer devices such as the Samsung Galaxy and HP Tablet. In addition to these, there are at least 5 other manufacturers readying their devices to launch within the next few months.

The fact is that the Windows Tablet devices will have a huge tactical advantage in the business space because of Microsoft Office. Used by virtually all businesses, Microsoft Office is the stickiest software suite in history and will be leveraged extensively by Microsoft and its partners to lure the business user with advantages such as document compatibility and the widest integration into Microsoft’s massive software stack.

Extensive integration with applications such as SharePoint, Lync (Unified Communications), CRM and Exchange will no doubt be included from launch giving the platform a head-start.

Seemann adds, “Currently it’s anyone’s guess — but my Christmas list just got a little bit longer.”