Do we really need tablets?

Asus-Eee-SlateHaving owned a tablet for a couple of weeks now, I am now firmly of the opinion that tablets (at least in manner in which they are currently designed, imagined and used) are unnecessary. Hear me out for a bit…

There have been quite a number of prominent technology leaders using the phrase the “post-pc-era”, IMHO this statement is more industry hype than it is substance. In the technology and gadget space though, I’m not sure that substance or lack thereof has been enough to stem the tide in the market desire for new, shiny more powerful thinga-ma-gadgets.

I bought a tablet specifically to test the theory of whether or not it was a device whose legitimacy could be justified even if I already owned a smartphone, a laptop computer, and several desktops at home, which I assume most persons that would even consider purchasing this device already do have.

Just to be clear, the only tablet that I’ve own and used thoroughly is the Asus Eee Transformer (TF101). I possibly tested all the Android tablets on the market before making this choice and I’ve played a bit with Apple’s iPad 1 & 2 only briefly, but I think I’ve seen enough to have an opinion on the matter which is that I don’t think they are necessary.

This is not to say that I don’t think that there aren’t use cases for such devices, which brings me to my next important point. Consider that both Apple and Google (we can throw, RIM, and HP in there as well) have have deliberately decided to evolve an Operating System (OS) designed for phones into their respective tablet operating systems. Microsoft on the other hand has a different perspective and have for some time been saying that the tablet is the next step for the personal computer (and we all know why – Windows). Microsoft has had “tablet” devices for some time, but never seemed to get the touch input and user experience just right. In less than 5 years, the industry has pretty much standardized on touch based interfaces for smartphone technology, doing away with the stylus while making leaps in mobile processors, battery, screen resolution and finger based touch and gesture tech.

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Thanks to a number of companies, in the last decade alone, I believe that we have gone through rapid evolution in our ability to conceptualize and use technology specifically in the mobile space. Apple for example, in hindsight, has almost deliberately shepherded us through respective generations of the iPod, iPhone and iPad mobile devices. Touch input on our devices is now far more natural than using keys and other input methods and is accepted as the input method of choice for smartphones. It was only a matter of time before we made the made to screen bigger … and voila we have a tablet.

I think that touch based computing devices absolutely have a place, what I don’t believe is that they are blown up mobile devices, I prefer to take the position that they are touch based appropriately size PCs. I recall a story from my boss that was particularly impactful maybe 10 years ago as he described his daughter interacting with her learning program on the computer and attempting to touch the screen as it was the natural thing to do for her … well I certainly think we’ve succeeded at that, check out the clip below:

 

2 year old “speaks” iPad fluently 🙂

 

There is a long standing desire for greater mobility and we’re trying to find the sweet spot, after all the industry have gone through several phases, room sized mainframes, the personal computer, laptops, netbooks, etc. to the point where we have extremely light machines at our disposal that can rival many desktops in their processing power. That being the case, what software is powering these devices? Currently it’s mostly software designed for our phones.

My experience using my Honeycomb tablet has not been a smooth one. I got one that is pretty much just like a laptop/netbook so that I could use it as both a media device and a mobile productivity tool if desired, and while the experience is an interesting one, the device is simply not as productive as a laptop/netbook – both in software and using experience. I suspect that it may simply be an issue of the software applications that I choose to use on the device, but either way – for the money that was spent, and the comparative maturity of the PC platform compared to the tablet’s mobile powered OS, Android, I think I’d be better of with a laptop … but the people that change the world aren’t turned off by a few inconveniences … so I chose to power through with the device.

 

This post has been sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks, so, I’m just going to shoot it out and follow up with a part two on some of my other thoughts on this …

I’ll leave with a video of the CEO of ASUS talking about the Transformer tablet. In this clip he mentions that they (Asus) are much aware that the computing device space is changing, the laptop/netbook space is changing and their designs and devices are a response to that change as they attempt to find the sweet spot between tablets and laptops.

— Cheers

ASUS Chief at AsiaD –

Resources:

This is also an interesting read:

http://www.phonedog.com/2011/11/03/how-can-google-expect-developers-to-make-decent-android-tablet-apps-if-they-can-t-lead-by-example/

 

— Cheers … uhh again?…

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Posted in Android, Apple, iOS, Microsoft, Windows, WP7

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