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Hot right now: Android tablets, cases & keyboards dominate ShowStoppers

by Doug Drinkwater

September 6 2013

Kobo only announced the Arc 10 HD at the end of last month
Kobo only announced the Arc 10 HD at the end of last month

The ShowStoppers party at the IFA technology exhibition proved to be a deluge of keyboards, accessories and forward-thinking prototypes, as well as the public unveiling of one of the latest Android tablets.

BERLIN, GERMANY: Staged in a packed convention room overflowing with people, food and alcohol, ShowStoppers played host to some of the leading consumer electronics companies on Thursday evening, from Amazon and Kobo to Wacom, Logitech and the makers behind e-Ink technology.

Amazon had a small stand where it promoted its Kindle apps for Android and iOS as well as its original Kindle Paperwhite eReader.

The Kindle Fire maker wasn’t the only firm focusing on digital reading however, with Canadian rivals Kobo surprising everyone by unveiling the Kobo Arc 10 HD – a 10-inch Android tablet that was only announced at the end of last month.

Company officials ran through the tablet’s reading mode, digital magazine storefront and innovative bookshelf view – which was partly developed by the Kobo-owned French company Aquafadas, all the while detailing some impressive specs.

The tablet, which is launching at the end of October for $399.99, offers a 2560 x 1600 resolution display, Android 4.2, Nvidia’s quad-core 1.8GHz Tegra 4 processor, 2GB of RAM and support for Bluetooth 4.0 and Miracast for Wi-Fi media streaming.

Meanwhile, just days after Logitech announced its first accessory for Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Belkin followed suit by unveiling the Ultimate Keyboard for Samsung Tab 3 10.1.

Made of aluminium and with holes for accessing power and camera functions, the keyboard has a fixed back plate which doubles up as a stand, while a magnetic connection wakes the device when connect the tablet with the keyboard (much in the same way the iPad does when you open the Smart Cover). It will launch sometime in November for $129.

The firm has also worked on a range of other accessories for Samsung’s smaller Galaxy Tabs, with standalone and folio cases to be released internationally in the next few weeks.

Fellow accessory manufacturer Otterbox is perhaps better-known for rugged mobile cases and took to ShowStoppers with some products that have been on the market for a few months.

The iPad Mini Defender is available for $69.99 and has a pop-out stand that allows for two different positions – typing or writing. Also, having acquired LifeProof in May, there was also a subsection of new cases from them, including the water-proof Nuud case for iPad.

The Kickstarter-funded 3Doodler caused quite a stir with its 3D drawing pen stylus, which allows users to draw in the air and create 3D objects. The pen has patent-pending technology which forms objects by letting the plastic ‘ink’ cool rapidly and become hard. The 3Doodler pen doesn’t however come cheap at $99.99.

There was significantly less buzz around Zagg – probably due to the number of accessory makers at the show – but the Ireland-based firm still had a whole host of new designs for tablet owners.

One of which was simply called the ‘Universal’; a light cover with integrated Bluetooth keyboard and which could be used as a stand. Charging is via micro USB and the keyboard case is now retailing for $69.99.

There was also a neat iPad mini folio version with a 130 degree adjustable hinge for folding the keyboard back on the tablet, and a Folio version for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.

One of the most innovative products on show at ShowStoppers was ‘the world’s thinnest keyboard’ from CSR. Essentially displayed as a prototype to show what’s possible, the UK-based CSR is talking with various device manufacturers in the hope of making it a real product. To find out more, check out our video from the show.

Kobo wasn’t the only one showing new tablets at the technology party – graphic tablet specialist Wacom unveiled its latest collection of models -- including the Cintiq Companion, the Intuos and the Intuos Pro. The firm also introduced its latest stylus, the Intous Creative Stylus for iPad (which offers pressure sensitivity and which was being used with Wacom’s Bamboo app).

Doug Drinkwater is the International Editor of TabTimes and is based in London, England.

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