Technology: UK’s Fashion Store, Next Launches Tablet

One of the UK’s biggest fashion stores, Next which is known for its affordable clothing, home furnishings and snazzy TV advert has upped the fashion stakes with technology and has started to sell its own brand tablet computer. So, what does the Next gadget look like? Well, the funky looking unit is £180 ($284), has a 10in screen, 8GB of storage, is Wi-Fi enabled, uses an ARM processor and runs Google’s Android Operating System.

The Next tablet will go head-to-head with other popular technology devices in the escalating tablet computer market, which includes the names of the big technology boys - Dell Streak already doing quite good business; Samsung Galaxy Tab due for release shortly; Blackberry’s PlayBook due out next year; and the iconic star of them all the Apple’s iPad. While, the Next tablet is cheaper than compared to the sophisticated iPad, its users will have to expect compromises in return for the price tag. Unlike the iPad, the Next version does not support multi-touch and so users cannot pinch and zoom on the screen to navigate around web pages or photos.

Tablet computers have become mainstream and it is clear that Next believes like the analysts that this is a brand new market, where tablets will become big business this year. It has been driven by the dynamic use of mobile content, apps, wireless networks, affordable touch screens, technology and powerful chips. Device makers hope to tap demand for larger handheld computers that can outperform mobile phones. It is estimated by the end of this year, tablets could make up a $3.5 billion market and I am sure it is only a matter of time before other high street retailers and supermarkets here in the UK start selling tablets in store, alongside groceries. As the ability to connect music, movies, games and e-mail is the long-term opportunity for retailers and the entire industry is moving in that direction. Tablets are positioned as devices where you consume content whereas laptops are traditionally used for creating content so we can expect to see the tablet continue to grow for the foreseeable future. In fact Disgo, a budget device maker too is getting in on the act and will soon be releasing a 7 inch model, which we can assume will be cheap.

Though however, inexpensive there tablets maybe, there are serious questions about the quality of these models and that these companies are just cashing in on the tablet craze without providing an innovative technology or worthwhile products; they are not about trying to steal the spotlight from Apple and so in the end it may take a lot more than a lower price to distinguish a tablet that's intended to go head-to-head against one from Apple.

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