Apple's iSlate, JooJoo, Freescale Tablet, HTC/Chrome Tablet, Archos 9, and a half dozen more. That's what we can expect to see this month. Will anyone get it right? Does anyone need a tablet PC? It's not an original idea. These won't be the first tablet devices on the market. Of those listed above expect at least four different UI/operating systems.
You know what everyone really wants, don't you? It's Star Trek's everything tablet. That thin pad Jordi or Trip would reference for Enterprise specs or anyone on board would look up a family history or read a book on. They are everywhere, and a commodity. They apparently charge whenever set down, or are so thrifty they run forever on their initial battery/capacitor/fuel cell charge. Will anyone get it right? I don't think they will on the first shot. Someone will get close, though. It's inevitable with a scatter shot. Yet no one knows what we really can use since we don't have one yet. This month will be full of experiments. The company that learns the most from their first device will have an easier shot the next time.
Why have previous tablets failed:
- Lack of portability. You'll need a large coat pocket, briefcase, or purse to carry yours in.
- Price: If you can't carry one easily around, you'll want one for home, your car, and your workplace. At $300 to $1000 no one will want to buy more than one. Make it a $99 device or three for $279 and it's got a chance. Add auto syncing between your pads so they all have the same content and state like the Kindle ebook device and apps have. Set one down and whichever one you pick up will be right where you left the last one at.
- Fingerprints. Sure, a stylus can keep the screen clean, but it limits you to mono-touch. Multi-touch is the future. Move directly to fingers and subsequent prints. Most of us would stop using our keyboards if we could easily see how dirty they are. There's a reason they are usually black. You can't hide the smear when you have to look through it though. We'll need a new surface and/or way to interface with this new tablet.
It doesn't surprise me at all that Apple's Jobs has been dissatisfied with their tablet development up until now. Expect something original as an interface from Apple. Facial Expression Recognition maybe? Their iSlate will certainly have a web cam. Maybe it will read lips. Everyone else looks to be moving today's touchscreen UIs onto larger tablets. I've seen several different strategies, and more than a few that were horrible. Move past single-handed use and the ergonomics completely change. I would expect a voice command interface if we were always alone with our tablets. We live with other people though and are already annoyed when someone talks on their cell phone in our presence. Imagine everyone around you now who has a cell phone all of a sudden talking to their new iSlate. Voice command won't cut it.
I'm enjoying my Archos 5. It is thin but could be thinner. It could also be lighter. It could also be cheaper. The UI isn't ideal either. Yet it works. It may be the closest thing to that Star Trek pad we see though.
This will certainly be an interesting month. A tablet may be THE device of this decade. Do you want your own Trek pad? What would you pay? Please leave a comment.