Is There A Tablet Computer In Your Future?


TestFreaks Data











Is there a tablet in your future?
If you read the news sites or visit many tech blogs, it seems that the newest computer gadget threatening to invade the market is the tablet computer. This year’s CES showed that many different models are slated (so to say) to be launched in this calendar year.
But if these tablets do come on the market, will they catch on? And will you be getting one anytime soon? Well, to try to answer that question, let’s look at both tablet computing history and other items to market that closely paralleled what we are now seeing with tablets.
Tablet Evolution, not Revolution
First, let’s just lay this on the table – tablet computers are not new. A few years ago tablet computers burst onto the scene with a lot of promise, only to be relegated  to niche markets and specific uses.
While it showed to be quite interesting, it is my opinion that the implementation was not right. The Windows based pen computer was virtually a windows computer with a few goodies thrown in for the pen.  Sure, journal and the sticky notes were definitely interesting, and it allowed a lot of freedom when using the pen. But merely replacing the mouse with a pen and adding a few specialized functions is probably a good entry into the “How not to introduce a new computing paradigm” playbook.
The pen took longer to enter data than a keyboard did, and the interface was designed for a mouse. The tablet computer suffered, despite a few holdouts that actually liked a pen computer (I still love my TC1100).
Where they are now
As mentioned, CES 2010 brought out a lot of tablets that will soon see the light of day.  And the majority of them are running Windows 7. Aha, isn’t that an OS designed for a mouse? Did we not just go through that with the last round of pen tablets?
The answer, sad to say, is yes.  Windows with a touch screen is, in this writer’s opinion, not a finger friendly OS. Sure, it does finer touches now – multiple simultaneous touches, even. But even a quick look at a screen shows you that they are using the same screen mechanics as a mouse does for the most part.
The interface is not designed for a pen, much less a finger. Yet the bulk of the new tablet market is going to be running this OS, apparently. So, why would the average person want to forgo the mouse and use their finger instead?
The answer is this – they have no reason to do so.  If the tablet computing paradigm continues to be introduced with a mouse designed interface, then we can stick a fork in it. Outside of a few niche areas (and I am in one of those, to be sure), you can call tablet computing done.
Tablet Computers, From the Ground Up
So, if sticking Windows 7 on a tablet with touchpad support is not going to make it work, then what is? Well, the answer to that might just be in recent history. Recent Mobile history, to be exact.
Windows Mobile has seen a good run, and from its early inception to the latest version (sans Windows Mobile 7, if that ever does see the light of day), it has sold in the millions. They precede a lot of the current competition in mobile OS, and they carry with it the branding of the world’s most popular desktop operating system. They should have the market.
But they don’t, and a few relatively new competitors are ripping through the market, leaving Windows Mobile behind in their dust, at least for now. What did they do wrong?
Simple – they implemented an interface that was too much like the desktop. The mouse-evolved screen elements took up a lot of precious screen real estate. As a long time user of Windows Mobile (also known by the more correct name, Pocket PC), I can attest that you needed a good stylus and a steady hand to make use of the interface. It may have been labeled mobile, but you had to stop to see what you were doing.
But recently a competitor released a phone that had an interface designed from the ground up to be finger centric. The iPhone, by Apple, showed us exactly how you could scroll a list using a touch screen without  a single tiny scroll bar on the side. Suddenly a finger would actually work, and screen elements such as drop down lists were accommodating to the user, not the other way around. The result was a great success.
On its heels, computing giant Google has released its Android operating system, again designed to be finger friendly from the ground up. The Android name is finding its way onto many different handsets, and the end result is that a touch screen device is becoming accepted as the normal smartphone of choice, no stylus required.
What has changed
So, how does this affect tablet computers? Well, if the rumor mill proves to be true, then there are new tablets coming on the market that run these operating systems. This is perhaps the biggest difference from the earlier attempt at making tablets a mainstream device.
A tablet device running an interface that is finger-centric by design, not mouse-centric with allowances, is in my opinion enough to turn the tide and opens the door for these sleek machines.
It really does come down to this – it must be conveniently easy to use. Otherwise the new crop of tablets are again headed for the niche markets and power users only. You have to give the users a reason to use a tablet, not let them make do with a tablet.
Is a tablet in your future
With that said, I am curious as to how the average computer user feels about the new crop of tablets.  Would you want a Windows 7 device so that you can run existing software? Or would you want a new design that allows a new software design to interface to your lifestyle? Take a moment to answer our poll, and we can compare what users want and expect from a tablet device.

If you read the news sites or visit many tech blogs, it seems that the newest computer gadget threatening to invade the market is the tablet computer. This year’s CES showed that many different models are slated (so to say) to be launched in this calendar year 2010.

But if these tablets do come on the market, will they catch on? And will you be getting one anytime soon? Well, to try to answer that question, let’s take a look at tablet computing history.

Tablet Evolution, not Revolution

First, let’s just lay this on the table – tablet computers are not new. A few years ago tablet computers burst onto the scene with a lot of promise, only to be relegated  to niche markets and specific uses.

While it showed to be quite interesting, it is my opinion that the implementation was not right. The Windows based pen computer was virtually a windows computer with a few goodies thrown in for the pen.  Sure, journal and the sticky notes were definitely interesting, and it allowed a lot of freedom when using the pen. But merely replacing the mouse with a pen and adding a few specialized functions is probably a good entry into the “How not to introduce a new computing paradigm” playbook.

The pen took longer to enter data than a keyboard did, and the interface was designed for a mouse. The tablet computer suffered, despite a few holdouts that actually liked a pen computer (I still love my TC1100).

Where tablets are now

ArchosTablet

As mentioned, the CES 2010 brought out a lot of tablets that will soon see the light of day.  And the majority of them are running Windows 7. Aha, isn’t that an OS designed for a mouse? Did we not just go through that with the last round of pen tablets?

Sad to say, we did.  Windows with a touch screen is, in this writer’s opinion, not a finger friendly OS. Sure, it does finer touches now – multiple simultaneous touches, even. But even a quick look at a screen shows you that they are using the same screen mechanics as a mouse does for the most part.

The interface is not designed for a pen, much less a finger. Yet the bulk of the new tablet market is going to be running this OS, apparently. So, why would the average person want to forgo the mouse and use their finger instead?

The answer is this – they have no reason to do so.  If the tablet computing paradigm continues to be introduced with a mouse designed interface, then we can stick a fork in it. Outside of a few niche areas (and I am in one of those, to be sure), you can call tablet computing done.

Tablet Computers, From the Ground Up

So, if sticking Windows 7 on a tablet with touchpad support is not going to make it work, then what is? Well, the answer to that might just be in recent history. Recent Mobile history, to be exact.

Windows Mobile has seen a good run, and from its early inception to the latest version (sans Windows Mobile 7, if that ever does see the light of day), it has sold in the millions. They precede a lot of the current competition in mobile OS, and they carry with it the branding of the world’s most popular desktop operating system. They should have the market.

But they don’t, and a few relatively new competitors are ripping through the market, leaving Windows Mobile behind in their dust, at least for now. What did they do wrong?

MicrosoftExcelMobile

Simple – they implemented an interface that was too much like the desktop. The mouse-evolved screen elements took up a lot of precious screen real estate. As a long time user of Windows Mobile (also known by the more correct name, Pocket PC), I can attest that you needed a good stylus and a steady hand to make use of the interface. It may have been labeled mobile, but you had to stop to see what you were doing.

A New Interface

But recently a competitor released a phone that had an interface designed from the ground up to be finger centric. The iPhone, by Apple, showed us exactly how you could scroll a list using a touch screen without  a single tiny scroll bar on the side. Suddenly a finger would actually work, and screen elements such as drop down lists were accommodating to the user, not the other way around. The result was a great success.

On its heels, computing giant Google has released its Android operating system, again designed to be finger friendly from the ground up. The Android name is finding its way onto many different handsets, and the end result is that a touch screen device is becoming accepted as the normal smartphone of choice, no stylus required.

Interface Impact

So, how does this affect tablet computers? Well, if the rumor mill proves to be true, then there are new tablets coming on the market that run these operating systems. This is perhaps the biggest difference from the earlier attempt at making tablets a mainstream device.

AndroidTablet

A tablet device running an interface that is finger-centric by design, not mouse-centric with allowances, is in my opinion enough to turn the tide and opens the door for these sleek machines.

It really does come down to this – it must be conveniently easy to use. Otherwise the new crop of tablets are again headed for the niche markets and power users only. You have to give the users a reason to use a tablet, not let them make do with a tablet.

Is a tablet in your future?

With that said, I am curious as to how the average computer user feels about the new crop of tablets.  Would you want a Windows 7 device so that you can run existing software? Or would you want a new design that allows a new software design to interface to your lifestyle? Take a moment to answer our poll, and we can compare what users want and expect from a tablet device.

  • http://www.mendelonline.be mendel

    android or random linux :-)

  • Stefan

    I would probably buy an Apple tablet but I would also consider an Android based tablet if the price was significantly less then Apples tablet.

  • Salmons

    I would be fine with an Apple or Android tablet.

    The trouble with Linux is the same with Windows – the interface is not really made for fingers without some serious custom work.

  • Tablet prospector

    Windows based would probably be my choice simply for app compatibility, but who knows.

  • Ray

    I have been wondering if very large tablets are the future for graphic designers. I would happily combine the old-fashioned drafting table layout with modern design apps. I’m imagining a very large tablet where i could see the whole layout at once.

  • Todd Stewart

    A tablet is in my present.
    I use an HP TX2z every day.

  • Chris

    I want something that has the software compatability of Windows with the vision of Apple (i.e. can i run Photoshop and do spreadhseets on it?). My biggest beef with the iPhone is how locked down the thing is.

  • Amish

    The Courier would have been the perfect tablet solution for me, but, like the perfect woman, is nothing more than a nice idea.

  • http://d-site.net Daniel

    @Salmons, actually, newer interfaces like the KDE4 desktop were specifically designed to be touch-ready. The KDE4 Netbook desktop includes a tiling window picker, instead of standard window borders, a newspaper-style widget containment, and the toolkit style includes new settings to make things more finger-friendly.

    I definitely look forward to seeing the slate (apparently several companies are using this term) form factor become available, and look forward to Android, Chromium OS, KDE4 Netbook/Tablet Desktop, and maybe more options becoming available as well. We should not forget Palm’s excellent WebOS!

    If Microsoft wants to stay in the market, they are going to need to seriously rework their OS so that it presents things in a more touch-friendly way. That said, it took them 10 years to get from Windows XP to Windows 7… if this is the case, they’ll be roughly at the level of the iPhone OS in 2020 when OSX, Palm WebOS, Linux, and the like will probably be moving on to holograms!

    • Salmons

      @Daniel, the touch add-on for KDE4 is about the same as Windows. It’s just an add-on, imho… it’s a personal preference.

  • http://filesmixx.com sergio

    Windows based would probably be my choice simply for app compatibility, but who knows…

  • johnny

    OK apple has a tablet PC lets all get a hard on when the Archos has one out already with a Camera and here in the US they dont even advertise

  • http://www.whatwoulddaddo.com Hal Hefner

    As a digital artist and tech geek, I really want a solid tablet to use with Photoshop so I can draw on it. I’ve had people suggest things to me but have never found one I’ve liked. I would also like one that is friendly for my kid. She’s a bit young 3.5 but smart and I think ready to play with a tablet.

  • Ken Mattlin

    Great article.These are what we call Tabslates A tabslate is
    a handheld computer larger than an Iphone and
    smaller than a Laptop. The new Apple IPAD is
    the number 1 Tabslate and is the MOTHER OF ALL
    TABSLATES..

  • http://ios.enjin.com/ Jason

    I’ve been considering getting a tablet PC ever since I first saw one years ago. My plan was always to go with a mid-powered convertible tablet notebook, such as a Dell Latitude XT2, but that could change.

    I’ve been using mobile devices for a while, from my old Toshiba Genio, to a work-provided HTC Touch and my iPhone. For me, the control scheme effectiveness comes down to where these new tablets will fit into mobile computing. For a cheap PC-replacement device, touch makes sense, but as I would more likely buy one of these to replace a work computer (long emails, coding, RDP), it would have to be pretty fluid and allow for accuracy as well to keep from becoming just a novelty.

    As it stands, my iPhone is my go anywhere device, and my current work PC brings more power to the game, despite its age. I’m still leaning towards a convertible, but if slates continue to improve in power and design while staying low-cost, it could well be my next buy.

    OS would probably need to be a good mix of the two offerings listed. Unless Windows 7 makes a huge leap in its support for touchscreens, I doubt it would do. Likewise, I need something more accurate than just pure finger-based.

  • http://www.AleFuentes.com Ale

    Wacom Cintiq +Multitouch +Multiplatform Multi OS +Advanced Graphics Card to Play Games (3D Optimized) = Best Gaming, Content Creation and Rich Media Platform

    The success of places like YouTube proves that people are shifting from Media Consumers to Media Producers. Creativity is becoming the next trend, it is part of everybody’s life. And eventually a device like a Slate will have to reflect that. Content Creation is what is still missing in Apple’s Ipad. Apple’s Ipad is the portable version of a Couch Potato’s Device.

  • http://www.mcgarrellreilly.ie McGarrell Reilly

    Tablet computer is only good for web surfing and media play for now, compare to PC, its weakness is performance. use Ipad as a example, it is still a single process platform….

    • Sebi_2020

      It may have a single processor but it can run the unreal engine and that’s pretty impressive . I’m starting to realize that is not the device’s job to fit the program , it’s the program’s job to fit the device .

  • http://www.newapplecomputer.org new apple computer 2010

    Nice .
    Thanks for sharing it.

  • http://www.whatisamedicalassistant.org what is a medical assistant

    Besides the fact that a tablet is more portable, it does not differ in functionality or better said, it does not offer any more funcionality than a laptop or desktop. Of course it’s cooler and more flashy, but that’s about it.

Archie Comics Relaunches with New ARCHIE #1 Next Year

Archie Comics Relaunches with New ARCHIE #1 Next Y…

Kristofer Brozio
I never got into Archie comics, I was more into sci-fi and fantasy and super heroes and such but I d…
Read More
23 hours agoArchie Comics Relaunches with New ARCHIE #1 Next Y…
Dish Network Integrates Netflix Into Set-Top Boxes

Dish Network Integrates Netflix Into Set-Top Boxes

Kristofer Brozio
Now this is cool, Dish has become the first pay TV or cable company as it were to integrate Netflix…
Read More
23 hours agoDish Network Integrates Netflix Into Set-Top Boxes
Shazam for Windows Phone Gets an Update with Cortana Support and More

Shazam for Windows Phone Gets an Update with Corta…

Kristofer Brozio
I do miss my Windows Phones, I had two of them, but I went back to Android because there’s just more…
Read More
1 day agoShazam for Windows Phone Gets an Update with Corta…
Atari Fit Let’s You Unlock Classic Atari Games for Exercising

Atari Fit Let’s You Unlock Classic Atari Gam…

Kristofer Brozio
So it seems Atari is coming out with their own fitness app called Atari Fit in early 2015. The cool…
Read More
21 hours agoAtari Fit Let’s You Unlock Classic Atari Gam…
Sideshow Collectibles Taking Pre-Orders for Amazing Looking 1/4 Scale Boba Fett Figure

Sideshow Collectibles Taking Pre-Orders for Amazin…

Kristofer Brozio
I have to admit this collectible figure looks just amazing and if I had the extra cash I’d love to g…
Read More
23 hours agoSideshow Collectibles Taking Pre-Orders for Amazin…