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Cheap Linux Tablets, And (Maybe) An Apple Tablet 351

Posted by timothy
from the truth-and-speculation-obscure-each-other dept.
penguinrenegade writes "Element Computer has come out with the first sub-$1000 Tablet, and it doesn't come with Windows. It's not running a stripped OS like Windows CE, but a full-fledged copy of Lycoris Desktop/LX. This company seems to really have it in for Microsoft, with a 'No Windows' policy. Good to see someone finally standing up against paying the Microsoft tax. Maybe now we'll start seeing Linux only OEMs and resellers." Also on the tablet computer front, SeanAhern points out Cringely's latest Robert X. Cringely column, in which Cringley makes the case that Apple is readying a tablet computer for market, and "suggests that 'until next year, the parts won't have been there to make tablet PCs successful. What's missing has been the killer app, and what kept a killer app from appearing was a lack of hardware support, which I believe will be over soon,'" writing "He's got some interesting ideas about where Jobs might go with his Digital Hub idea." (This is an Antaur-based machine, not the Toshiba tablet mentioned in October.)
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Cheap Linux Tablets, And (Maybe) An Apple Tablet

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  • Built in TV tuner! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by i_am_syco (694486) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:24PM (#7605054)
    Apple's bound to make a tablet eventually. If the market demands it, it'll definitely happen, and the current tablets on the market suck. Apple's got the Newton tech for handwriting recog, as well as Inkwell, the most underused feature in OS X...now, all you have to add is a touch sensitive screen and BINGO.
    • Inkwell == Rosetta (Score:5, Insightful)

      by soft_guy (534437) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:38PM (#7605166)
      Inkwell is the Newton's handwriting recognition engine ported to OS X.

      For certain uses, tablets are great. I loved the Newton - it was a great computing solution for people who have to stand up. (Like walking around doing inventory control, or doing data entry while inspecting a highway, doctors, etc.)

      If Apple could also market it so that it competes with something like the Wacom Cintiq tablets, but also could have a keyboard plugged in and be like a full blown Mac, I could see it filling a niche.
    • by mblase (200735) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:35PM (#7605529)
      Apple's bound to make a tablet eventually. If the market demands it, it'll definitely happen, and the current tablets on the market suck.

      You say that as if those two sentences had anything in common. IIRC, there was virtually no real demand for the iPod when it was introduced (a 5GB digital music player? and $300 to boot??), but it was so whiz-bang and easy to use that it literally created its own market. For what it's worth, the original Apple greenscreen PCs did pretty much the same thing. (The main reason the Newton failed is because it wasn't as easy to use as it needed to be; it fell to Palm to reach that goal.)

      Right now, there's no demand from the market for tablet PCs whatsoever. The demand is from Microsoft, and from those hardware companies they've sold on the idea. But if/when Apple introduces one, it will need to be the most intuitive, uncomplicated, and convenient thing that anyone has ever made. Anything less, especially with Apple's market share, will be a flop and Jobs knows it.
      • The Newton failed because Apple refused to let anyone write software for it. I recall back in the day as a student having to get together with several of my friends to pony up $1000 to get the development kit for the priviledge of writing software for my Newton.

        Look at Palm ten years later - it's a toy by comparison, but it has a world of software. It's also cheaper at the low end, but not that much.
        Apple could have backed the Newton until it had a footing and created a new market by getting on board wit
    • choice (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mixmasta (36673)
      I don't want a linux-only-oem. I just want one to give me a choice...

      windows, linux, or blank hard disk.
    • Eehh, Inkwell (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Aqua OS X (458522) on Monday December 01, 2003 @11:53PM (#7606493)
      I've really really tried to use Ink. And I'm sorry, but it sucks. It's caused me the same problems it caused me when it was on the Newton.

      Even if I write like an angel, it screws up my words and sentence spacing.

      Moreover, I can honestly type a hell of a lot faster (50+ wpm) then I can handwrite or shorthand.

  • Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Atragon (711454) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:25PM (#7605061)
    Depending on the software availability angle, this could be a major breakthrough for Linux, being the primary OS for a vendor.
  • by Radi-0-head (261712) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:27PM (#7605073)
    Man that was fast... and this error makes me wonder:

    1226 - User 'elementc_ms2' has exceeded the 'max_questions' resource (current value: 10000)

    Does that mean there are in excess of 10,000 people trying to hit this site at once? Wow.
    • Probably per day. I had no idea /. had that many subscribers!
    • If that's how they handle the case of a high number of people at their website... in this very ugly manner... imagine how they handle other extreme cases with their hardware/software... Not confidence inspiring really.
    • I was once working on our webserver at work and mentioned the "slashdot effect" to one of the guys I work with and the my server crashed the moment I said "slashdot".

      Death by suggestion. Could have been coincidence though, it was IIS.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      actually, its the number of connections the webserver can make to the mysql db. it may be on the same machine, or a different one.

      my guess is they have keep-alive on, and possibly some high timeout settings thats causing the webserver to hang on to the db connection even after the http transaction has taken place.

      another possibility is bad scripting code that is killing the child process and holding the db connection. soon all the connections get filled up and poof... that error.

      there is actually a scr
  • Robert X. Cringely (Score:5, Interesting)

    by minus_273 (174041) <aaaaa@SPAM. y a h oo.com> on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:27PM (#7605077) Journal
    If i remember correctly, Robert X. Cringely was the same guy who wrote that Win XP ran DOS underneath becasue "cmd" works and that windows should be based on linux instead because linux is better than DOS.
    For all the stupid things i have seen on /. , what i dont understand is why this guy is so important?
    • by Teflik (4823) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:37PM (#7605156)
      The way I see it, Cringely is a very good historian. He's good at sifting throught the facts of what has already happened, and putting things together accurately.

      As far I I'm concerned, he's a totally worthless and annoying analyst. He rarely knows what the hell he's talking about.

      I don't know what slashdot sees in him either most of the time.
      • give me a fucking break. He's not a historian, he's not an analyst, he's a journalist. He can throw together a summary of what he's read elsewhere, add in some predictions, and spell check it.

        Now you know why he fits in at slashdot.

        • He can throw together a summary of what he's read elsewhere,
          Yeah. kinda like a historian.
          add in some predictions
          kinda like an analyst...
    • So, what? He made ONE blatantly stupid mistake (though I'm sure people will jump to their guns and show me all the other mistakes he has ever made, too). I still read his column every week, and I still enjoy it. I even enjoyed reading the one in question, even if it wasn't accurate.

      It's just a tech column. Nothing to get one's panties in a wad over. There are other people saying worse things in other places, like once upon a time on tech tv [techtv.com].
      • Granted, yes, it was a single mistake...

        BUT A *REALLY* FUCKING STUPID ONE! The kind that tend to destroy your reputation instantly.

        Does anyone not agree?
        • Just curious, what mistake is Cringely famous for on Slashdot?

          Thanks.
        • by mcrbids (148650)
          Granted, yes, it was a single mistake...

          BUT A *REALLY* FUCKING STUPID ONE! The kind that tend to destroy your reputation instantly.

          Does anyone not agree?


          Sort of like using vulgar language in a written article or post? I mean, come now. Colorful words as these merely server to remind one of the schoolyard!

          I can almost hear the balls bouncing on the asphault...
        • Well, I don't agree. It shows careless research, in failing to realize that XP is a descendant of NT. But lots of people think Windows 95/98 runs DOS underneath because it launches from DOS. But Windows actually takes over the machine except to run DOS-only programs at that point. (IIRC, this actually started with Windows for Workgroups 3.11.) Should everyone who doesn't know that be dismissed solely on those grounds? More to the point, Cringely tends to be more of a "big picture" kind of columnist. You m
    • by iantri (687643)
      In case anyone is wondering, here is the article. [pbs.org]

      Yes, it's unbelievably muddled -- Cringely suggests that Microsoft could simply pick up the Windows GUI system and magically turn it into an X window manager.

    • by Fnkmaster (89084) * on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:59PM (#7605296)
      I have to stand up for Cringely somewhat on this one. The cmd comment is dumb, admittedly, and from an economic and business standpoint, clearly MS would never want to do something like this. Nonetheless, the Win32 API could be ported to run on top of Linux/X. What exactly do you think WINE is, if not 80% of such a beast. And if Microsoft made it themselves, it would actually work well, rather than just working sometimes like WINE.


      Another way of looking at it is that he's saying that somebody could create a lot of value on top of the existing Linux platform by making a decent GUI/Windowing System, the same way that Apple did with OS X, and still have a viable commercial product out of it, one which would be better than Windows in many ways, which I agree with as well. Again, clearly makes no sense from a business perspective, but the idea isn't as totally without merit as you make it seem.

    • He's also the guy that lied [slashdot.org] about having a PHD.

      One more thing, his "Killer App" of a digital hub is simply based on Steve Job's quote [macrumors.com] made just last month. But, personally, I don't think Cringely is on the right path. Jobs has said before that the TV and computer shouldn't merge, and Job's idea of Digital Hub has been iTunes, iDVD etc, not directly interacting with your home appliances.

      Joseph Elwell.

  • by OmniVector (569062) <see my homepage> on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:27PM (#7605084) Homepage
    According to Steve Jobs himself [justonemorething.com] I don't think we can expect to see a tablet from apple at all. It's a niche product in a niche computer field.
    • Re:Apple != Tablet (Score:5, Informative)

      by evn (686927) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:38PM (#7605165)

      Except that onemorething.com is a parody site and not actually steve jobs' web-log.

      There are no plans to make a tablet. It turns out people want keyboards. When Apple first started out, "People couldn't type. We realized: Death would eventually take care of this." "We look at the tablet and we think it's going to fail." Tablets appeal to rich guys with plenty of other PCs and devices already. "And people accuse us of niche markets." I get a lot of pressure to do a PDA. What people really seem to want to do with these is get the data out. We believe cell phones are going to carry this information. We didn't think we'd do well in the cell phone business. What we've done instead is we've written what we think is some of the best software in the world to start syncing information between devices. We believe that mode is what cell phones need to get to. We chose to do the iPod instead of a PDA.

      This is from the horse's mouth, a transcript [blogspot.com] of an interview between Steve Jobs and Walt Mossberg at "all things digital". (sorry I couldn't find the article on a "good" source (ie: google news) so go easy on it.

    • by sysopd (617656) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:39PM (#7605169)
      then how do you explain this pic I have of the new prototype [oldschool.net]?
  • But a tablet mac sounds like the furthest device from possibility to me. I'm just going on gut feeling admittedly.

    Apple tend to innovate in solid areas. There's the odd revolution (the original mac, the original powerbooks) and then there's refining what already exists and people want, such as iPods

    a Mac tablet would be refining a current idea that few people want.
    • a Mac tablet would be refining a current idea that few people want.
      Not really. Lots of people want tablet PCs, they just don't want the ones that have been released so far. What most people want is what Apple would most likely deliver - thin, light, easy to use, with built-in networking. Basically, a very large PDA with the power of a laptop.

      So far most tablet PCs have included a keyboard, which is nuts if you've ever used a Pocket PC's handwriting recognition -- the technology is there, just give it to us in a larger form factor (with a 2 GHz processor, 512Meg Ram, a hard drive, and a real OS, not Windows CE). They're also way too expensive, a feature I'm afraid Apple would likely copy.

      • As an Architect, who has had the chance to play with a Wacom flatscreen tablet at trade shows (the tech that most tablets use), I can attest to the fact that it's not that people don't want tablets. However I disagree with the 'big PDA' reasoning.

        I would love one, and most people I know in the construction/design industry would too. And I don't care about handwritting recon, for I'd just jot down notes in the feild, then retype them anyways later. The *real* issue is that the bright minds in Redmond decide
        • by homer_ca (144738) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:43PM (#7605584)
          should be a very expensive electronic legal pad/sketchbook based on a modded version of WinCE & sub-par processors. Every time I see the specs for a tablet PC, my heart sinks, for if it only had a decent processor and decent memory

          I wouldn't exactly say that. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition IS full fledged Windows XP. Sure, the PIII-M in most tablets are a step behind the Pentium-M, but otherwise the hardware specs are comparable to an ultraportable (3lb range) laptop, which barely a year ago still used PIII-M's.
      • by silentbozo (542534) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:20PM (#7605429) Journal
        What I want is a cheap pad that I can read eBooks on. Websurfing, word processing, drawing, etc. are nice add-ons, but the killer app is being able to have a couple of these slates lying around, with a very long battery life, able to hook into the household wifi network, and deliver any of the ebooks in my library at a moment's notice.

        Right now, the market is oriented toward overpriced, notebook replacement devices, with hi-res screens, bright backlighting, extra bulk for the fold-under keyboard, and *shudder* Windows as the OS. I recently got a Sony Clie NX60 off of eBay. It works ok for what I want (need to buy a wifi adapter card though), but ideally it would have a 640x480 screen, the size of a writing tablet (roughly 6"x8".) I would have gotten one of those RCA REB1200 ebooks, but the proprietary OS and lack of programs/wireless was a big downer
      • to the digital hub. WiFi movies on the pad in your bedroom so you don't get the iMac keyboard all gummy. Control your computer/ TV, iPod from the kitchen.

        We will just have to wait, but then speculating about what Apple will do is fun.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:31PM (#7605115)
    "Maybe now we'll start seeing Linux only OEMs and resellers."

    That was never a problem in the first place. It is that Microsoft has threatened to revoke the ability of retailers to carry computers with Windows alongside with other OSes (i.e. stop selling Linux, or you can't sell Windows). Most retailers balked, since most of their business is Windows, they'd rather not have to worry about losing a large portion of their customers for the sake of those that want Linux.
    • "Most retailers balked, since most of their business is Windows, they'd rather not have to worry about losing a large portion of their customers for the sake of those that want Linux.
      "


      Somehow I doubt retailers were arm twisted into selling only Windows. It's a pain in the ass to support more than one OS. "Uh, I bought a game at CompUSA, and it doesn't run on my computer. Why???"
      • Somehow I doubt retailers were arm twisted into selling only Windows.

        This was one of the main points of the antitrust case against Microsoft. From The Register [theregister.co.uk]:

        One of the reasons for the failure of BeOS, Hacker identifies, was the inability to induce OEMs to provide true dual-boot machines. Be adopted a non-confrontational approach, seeking to provide a Windows alternative rather than a replacement. It later produced a version that boots from inside Windows, and it even offered OEMs BeOS for free. However

        • Crap.

          That was supposed to read all retailers.

          Sorry about that.
        • This was one of the main points of the antitrust case against Microsoft. From The Register:

          I suspect what he was trying to say is that all those OEMs entered those contract terms with Mirosoft voluntarily.

          • Sure it's "voluntary" the same way you "voluntarily" stay at your employer after buying a new house, or "voluntarily" give that nice guy in a ski mask your money at the ATM machine.

            What's funnier about the whole BeOS thing is that IF a company like Dell WAS to go to court [even supeona'd] MS would still revoke the contract for the terms...the OEMs aren't even allowed to TALK ABOUT MS illegal activities...that's how "voluntary" it is!

    • I very much doubt that was the main issue. Lots of stores sell Apples along side Windows.

      Also the vast majority of software sold in stores are for Windows. So what are you going to sell?

      "I want to play that game. What do I need?"
  • worrys about tablets (Score:5, Informative)

    by CaptBubba (696284) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:32PM (#7605116)
    I can't get to the site, but he's my ramble: I think the tablets are an interesting take on the notebook/laptop (whichever you call it). As a student, I feel that if they ever came down in price they could be very useful for taking notes on. A laptop works decently for some classes where the majority of the notes are non-symbolic, but trying to take notes in a math or physics class is simply impossible, with the subscipts and sketches.

    But, how do you protect that screen? Something big like that just seems to be a huge scratch and scuff collector. Is this the case or am I just missing something obvious again?

    • by vruba (652537)

      Paper and pen(cil) are very good for taking sketch-like notes. If you'd just convert raster sketch-notes taken on a tablet to MathML (e.g.) anyway, you might as well do the same thing working from paper. In other words, there's no extra convenience in recording notes digitally if you're going to do a computationally difficult/impossible transform on them before it matters whether they're digital.

      I think any tablet would have to have an extremely good equation-recognition system before most people would fi

    • Apparently Largo, FL, saw fit to install them in police cars instead of laptops. Their justification was that it's not the entire laptops that get destroyed, just the keyboards, which are too expensive/tedious to replace. So, they decided to go with tablets and keyboards that plug into the tablets via USB or PS/2 or whatever.

      Don't forget that Largo is the All Linux city, either. Everything runs as a slim-client to a central server.

      Problem is that the police wouldn't be toting them around in a backp
    • by Osty (16825)

      But, how do you protect that screen? Something big like that just seems to be a huge scratch and scuff collector. Is this the case or am I just missing something obvious again?

      The best tablets have a rotating screen. At first glance, they look just like a slim laptop, complete with keyboard. Unlock the screen, rotate it 180deg, and shut the clamshell, and now you have a tablet. There's nothing you can do about protecting the screen while you're using it, but when transporting and storing it you'd ha

    • Of course there's always pencil and paper. It's pretty cheap too.
    • by miyako (632510)
      between this [wacom.com] and my iBook, even classes with alot of symoblic math, or diagrams is a breeze. I just use ink and the handwriting recognition engine converts my own handwriting to easy-to-read-the-next-day type, and I just switch to draw mode for equations, diagrams, etc. After each class I export notes to pdf and upload them to my webserver when I get home where I have a nice php site I wrote up where I can then search all the notes by subject, date, keyword, chapter and unit. It's not as compact of a sol
    • "But, how do you protect that screen? Something big like that just seems to be a huge scratch and scuff collector. Is this the case or am I just missing something obvious again?"

      perhaps you should come up with a way to protect them, and start your own business?

      You should be able to sketch on one, but it sounds like a great idead for another add-on. O program will all the symbols allready in it, you just drag them from the sie and drop theminto you notes.
    • by EverDense (575518) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:03PM (#7605736) Homepage
      A laptop works decently for some classes where the majority of the notes are non-symbolic, but trying to take notes in a math or physics class is simply impossible, with the subscipts and sketches.

      Yes, but a small hi-res camera attached to your notebook/tablet PC,
      and you don't even have to bother sketching.
      • by gribbly (39555)
        Right, and if you just put a digital voice recorder in your seat, you don't even have to be there! Great!

        My point being that taking notes is crucial to the learning process. Taking a photo of a diagram or formula is not the same as copying it manually. The two are similar in that at the end of both processes you have a copy of the diagram, but if you just took a photo you didn't force your brain to process the information, you didn't train yourself to draw the symbols, and so on.

        grib.
  • by ActionPlant (721843) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:32PM (#7605117) Homepage
    "Maybe now we'll start seeing Linux only OEMs and resellers."

    Wishful thinking, and I'm wishing it too. The problem is a base. Tablet PCs haven't been doing so hot (at least not in my neighborhood). The only major interest that I've seen on a large scale has been that of FedEx looking to implement them with their current DADS system, in addition to maintaining open communications with cellular towers. I'm a FedEx dispatcher myself, so I'm kept abreast of what technologies we're planning on moving to in the future. Tablet PCs in the field will help keep us even more accurately up-to-date. Currently, our drivers can only transmit when in range of our larger towers (which are only in the cities), meaning that customers wanting updated tracking information on a package routed to a rural area just have to sit and wait until the driver is in range to transmit data confirming that he/she has indeed delivered that package. With properly equipped tablets, we're hoping to eliminate this problem with true real-time status updates.

    What's curious is that, though I may have my head in the clouds, I've really not heard of any other major market for these things beyond novelty. The exception being the Apple rumor. Had apple had access to the technology in a financially feasable market (say 1994) I can absolutely see how ClarisWorks 4 could have dominated the word processing market of that day, and we'd have tablet PCs everywhere. As it stands now, I get the impression that people aren't quite sure what to do with these crazy things.

    Damon,
    • The real problem is one of information. Wireless networking is becoming common now, and that's nice, but there are many places you simply cannot get any kind of signal, and more places where you cannot get any decent signal. If you can get a network connection in places like these, it is usually insanely expensive.

      When high speed wireless data becomes the norm, which is to say when all the cellphone networks are very high speed, and cellular coverage is much better than it is now, then portable computing

  • by Idou (572394) *
    Thanks guys. . . . Now I have a valid excuse for not RTFA-ing.

    The Future is Open.
  • by OctaneZ (73357) <ben-slashdot2@u m a . litech.org> on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:35PM (#7605138) Journal
    Front Page [216.239.51.104]
    It's not much, but at least provides a "look" at one of their products.
    -OZ
  • typo alert! (Score:5, Funny)

    by knowles420 (589383) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:37PM (#7605151) Homepage Journal

    this:

    OS like Windows CE

    should read:

    OS-like Windows CE

  • by product byproduct (628318) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:38PM (#7605159)
    Tablet computers hold great promise, especially for medical applications. But the current models are still way too large to swallow.
  • text of article (Score:2, Informative)

    by jabella (91754)
    NOVEMBER 27, 2003

    Digital Hubris:

    Apple's Tablet Computer Might Finally Be That Link Between Your PC and TV
    By Robert X. Cringely

    High-tech is relentlessly optimistic and for good reason: the good times -- ALL the good times -- are caused by product transitions. New stuff costs more, has higher profit margins, and occasionally leads to changes in market leadership. A year or two later, these products will have been commoditized, the profit sucked out of them by intense competition, and it will be time to mov
  • by Azghoul (25786) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:41PM (#7605194) Homepage
    This is going to seem like your average flaming /. question (hmm, that didn't quite come out right), but I'm genuinely curious as to the problem that the tablet PC solves. What's it good for?

    I honestly don't see the use in it, and instead I really see another try by engines of industry to create demand for a product noone really needs...

    Hopefully someone can explain it to me, and this isn't just me turning 30...
    • I'm genuinely curious as to the problem that the tablet PC solves. What's it good for?

      Tablets have approximately the same form factor as laptops, and fill the same niche.
      Tablets have an advantage in drawing, and other "pen based" input operations,
      but a disadvantage in writing and other "keyboard based" input operations.

      Personally, I'd much rather have a laptop with a touch screen that could fold over completely,
      or a tablet with a keyboard that attached to the fold-over cover.

      -- this is not a .sig

    • I think the need is there for this type of things. Just think for a minute in all the ways that you could use a Tablet PC (one that is cheaper, better designed, and smaller - i.e. the ones that will be coming out in the next couple of years). If you are not that creative I will give you a couple ways I see them being used.

      Companies that need to do inventory but do not have the funds or know-how to invest in barcode wireless scanners. They could use to a Tablet PC to instantly change inventory and update
    • by Galvatron (115029) * on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:34PM (#7605939)
      I'm not sure anyone NEEDS a tablet any more than anyone NEEDS a laptop, or PDA, or whatever. However, as the owner of a TabletPC, here are some of the reasons I like my tablet:

      • Taking notes. I am a student, and I find the tablet PC excellent for taking notes. I have the advantage of digital note taking (easy to manipulate, easy to store, easy to organize) with the advantages of paper notes (drawing diagrams, complex mathematical symbols easy to write). Moreover, MS's new OneNote application automatically records the lecture to .wma, which I can replay on my mp3 player while I run (I suppose one could do the same thing with any other audio recorder, but OneNote is also the best note taking application, so it's nice that the recording feature is built in).
      • Drawing. There are obvious drawbacks to drawing on the computer as opposed to pencil & paper, but there are a hell of a lot of advantages too. Undo buttons and layers are the most obvious. Unlike tablets that have to be connected to your computer, tablet PCs are mobile, allowing one to draw anywhere. What I'm really looking forward to are tablet PCs with transflective screens, so they'll be usable outside.
      • Removes need for a PDA. My tablet is only 3 lbs, so while it is clearly bulkier and heavier than a Palm, it is easy enough to bring with me whenever I expect to need my schedule (I'm looking for a nice leather portfolio for it at the moment, that would make things even better). Unlike a PDA (or at least, unlike my old Palm III), it doesn't have to convert everything to text. So if you want to jot down a quick note, rather than painstakingly entering one letter at a time and correcting mistakes, you just use regular handwriting. So long as you can read your own handwriting, there's no need to ever convert it to text (though the recognition for cursive is pretty damn good, so long as you're writing dictionary words).
      • Reading. I know someone above pooh-poohed the notion of using it as an e-book reader, but there's no doubt it's useful for that function. The fact that the display can be rotated is a tremendous benefit. It's just so much easier to read on a tall, narrow display than a wide, short display (this is why newspapers have columns). I'm not just talking about e-books either. Even reading websites offline is easier (surfing can be laborious, given slowness of text entry with the pen).
      A tablet is probably a poor primary computer (one can use docking stations I suppose, but mine is only a 1 Ghz Centrino, not exactly blazing). I think that for students and artists, it's probably a better secondary computer than a laptop. For business folk who do lots of typing on the road, probably not so much (on the other hand, business folk who mainly review documents, check email, and take notes at conferences might be well served by a tablet).
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:45PM (#7605216)
    The article talks about the "killer app" for the tablet being home theater (basically). Then it goes to add that the hardware to make that possible - UWB wireless - is just coming out in January.

    To me though none of these pieces add up. I can possibly see HD video feeds between components and even PC's being of some use - but to a tablet? HD resolution is going to be wasted on a tablet screen (at least at current DPI for LCD's).

    Then once the video gets to the table - what then? A really large glorified remote control? Why would Apple have any interest in that?

    In the article he even mentioned the quote from Jobs that I agree with 100% - computers need keyboards. I have zero desire to see a tablet from Apple, partly because I feel it would be a drain on them but also partly because I just can't see how such a device fits into anyones world other than sketch artists. I beta tested some kind of tablet PC long ago, and the device worked OK - but I was hard pressed to find good reasons to own one, and now I have a laptop which I find much handier.

    Would an Apple tablet be cool? Possibly, but not in the same way the iPod or OSX is cool...
    • HD resolution is going to be wasted on a tablet screen (at least at current DPI for LCD's).

      Indeed, 1920 x 1080 (1080i) doesn't seem too likely in a tablet yet.

      Personally, I'd be quite content with a tablet as a wireless graphic terminal (even VNC could work in a pinch) to an existing Mac on the network. No major CPU necessary, so low power is an option. Just like the X workstations I used to use, but portable, wireless, and sans keyboard. No reason for it not to exist in some form -- whether it's used on

  • News.com report (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrklin (608689) <ken.lin@gma i l .com> on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:49PM (#7605240)
    "A small PC maker and a Linux distributor have teamed up to offer a tablet-style PC for $999, hundreds of dollars less than similar devices running Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition software.

    The Helium 2100, from Staten Island, N.Y.-based manufacturer Element Computer, is a convertible PC with a sliding screen that can be positioned for use as a traditional notebook PC or folded down for use as a touch-screen tablet device. "

    Source: http://news.com.com/2100-1005_3-5112309.html?tag=n efd_top

  • by olddoc (152678) on Monday December 01, 2003 @08:49PM (#7605244)
    whois elementcomputer.com:
    "Domain name: ELEMENTCOMPUTER.COM
    Administrative Contact:
    Hjorleifsson, Mike mikeh@dtev.com"
    OK, lets look here:
    http://www.dtev.com
    They are a bunch of Linux consultants.

    Dtev.com Isn't slashdotted yet!
  • I heard of a company that made decent hardware, but Linux only. I think their name was VA something or other. Ever heard of them?

  • I'm sorry if I sound like a dumbass, and I hope this isn't offtopic, but I've been wondering for a while now. What is Lycoris? They're registered as a distribution on http://www.linux.org/ and yet there is no download and as far as I've read in their own support they don't mention what liscense it's released under. Does this OS use the linux kernel, if so what liscense does it use? If it's LGPLed why is there no downloadable source/version? Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions or start a f
    • by Down8 (223459)
      They have a downloadable version. Source is available upon request, for a nominal shipping fee. Yes, this decision pissed off a lot of the Lycoris community. It is not dissimilar ot SuSE and Mandrake's policies of putting up their previous release for download, while limiting their current release to a "Live" status.

      -bZj
    • It's slick...kinda like Lindows without relying on CnR for money. It's polished simple and cute, looks a lot like Win XP. I want to say it's Debian & KDE based, but I can't find it to verify it. It's the usual pay-distro. Most is normal distro linux [OSS], with the polished parts [installer, control panel, layout...] being non-free. It's about the same price-wise as mandrake...but with 100% focus on desktop, rather than workstation or server like RH or SuSe. I downloaded a version last year and it
  • specs from web site (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:02PM (#7605325)
    Helium 2100
    $999

    Preconfigured Linux Tablet with Lycoris Desktop/LX

    Key features

    14.1-inch XGA (1024 x 768) Touch Panel active matrix display
    Perfect 2-in-1 convertible design, Notebook and Tablet PC
    Processor: 1 GHz VIA? Antaur
    Stylus included
    256MB Installed Memory: up to 1 GB of DDR266 200-pin DRAM via two sockets
    30GB Installed Hard Drive: up to 80 GB
    Keyboard: 85-key keyboard with Extended Function Keys
    O/S: Powered by Desktop/LX Tablet Edition
    Battery: up to 3 hours battery life
    Wireless: internal 802.11b (11 MBps) (OPTIONAL)
    Ports:
    2x USB 1.1/2.0;
    1x type II PCMCIA/CardBus slot;
    1x IrDA 1.1 FiR;
    1x stereo headphone jack;
    1x RJ11 for K56flex V90 modem;
    1x RJ45 for 10/100 LAN;
    1x external CRT port;
    4-in-1 Flash Card Reader SD/MMC/MS/SM
  • Ugh, I'm very disapointed to see this guy's name on the front of /. The man is either an idiot, or a liar. I personally lean toward the latter. His articles constantly contain in accurate information, the highlight being his passive yagi antenna setup (http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20020207 .html)
  • by satyap (670137) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:08PM (#7605365)
    This is going to be a bitter pill to swallow, but the market needs strong medicine. The writing's on the wall. Let's not sugar-coat the truth.
  • Mac Tablet PC? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NtroP (649992) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:13PM (#7605397)
    You know, I can't remember how many times I've been away from my computer (in my house or at work) and wanted to just "pop in" and do a quick check on a running process, check for the latest /. story, browse CNNs page, check the TV or Movie guide for my area, read my email or some other, predominantly point-and-click, activity.

    I think most manufacturers are having problems with table PCs because they are trying to make them keyboardless laptops. It will never happen. Why? I hate to write. So do many others and true handwriting technology is so processor intensive you can't currently pack it into a handheld. I'd rather type. I can type much faster that I can write and, well, you see where I'm going with this.

    If I were going to deliver a "tablet" PC, I'd make one like this:

    • Thin, light, solid state - no moving parts and pretty much sealed.
    • Built-in wireless (802.11g?) and a (maybe some sort of universal) card-reader slot for SD cards, microdrives, memory sticks, etc.
    • Low power processor and graphics cards - c'mon kids, we aren't playing Doom on this thing.
    • An inductive charger or some sort of "usefull" (as in - it's a slideshow pictureframe while idle/recharging) charging cradle
    Basically, it would simply be a touch-sensitive dumb terminal for a "central server" or master machine on my desk or in my closet. I'd want to be able to "VNC" to my desktop or open one of several "published" X-window apps with a finger tap. Give me a browser, email client (could be a browser), basic word processing (all running off my central server) and perhaps a small collection of rdp and terminal service clients - perhaps also running off my desktop. With a simple GUI to configure a connection to one (or more?) parent hosts and little or no built-in brains, this could be made dirt cheap (all the processing is handled by the server) - you are paying mostly for the touchscreen - which doesn't have to be very big. I'd pay a couple hundred bucks a piece or so to have one sitting on my coffee table or in my bedroom.

    Remember, this isn't supposed to be a PC in it's own right. It's supposed to be an extension of my main PC. 90% of what I want to do with a "tablet" is monitor something or do a quick browse without having to run into the other room. If you try to make it be a computer in-and-of-itself, it will be prohibitively expensive, heavy, hot and large.

    If I could take my Palm(tm), add low-power, built-in wireless networking, stretch the screen to about 10"x6" and add an Xwindows/VNC client, I'd be getting pretty close to having what I, personally, want in a tablet.

    Just my opinion, but this comes from many time when I've caught myself wishing I could just have my monitor follow me from room to room.

    • Basically, it would simply be a touch-sensitive dumb terminal for a "central server" or master machine on my desk or in my closet. I'd want to be able to "VNC" to my desktop or open one of several "published" X-window apps with a finger tap.

      When this topic has come up before, I've essentially weighed in the same way as you. What I want isn't a Tablet PC, but something more akin to a "wireless monitor". Something I can just pick up off the desktop and take to a meeting (or take into the living room s

    • Re:Mac Tablet PC? (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)
      Viewsonic AIRpanel for home [viewsonic.com]

      Ten inch for $750, fifteen inch $960. of course it's for use with windows XP (think remote desktop connection), but the thing is here today, and was brought to you by a large company even. The very item you want. Too bad it's windows-centric, but one wonders if you could somehow haxor a VNC client onto it.

  • TEP STOP? What the heck is TEP STOP?

    I thought I'd ask Google [google.com]. Oops.

    Results 1 - 10 of about 10,100. Search took 0.10 seconds.

    It's kinda fun browsing through the cache of all those busted websites though....
  • as Graphic tablet rather than tablet PC. Made me remember days of clicking away at autocad on an old Summasketch II 12x12 [calcomp.com] tablet (on a blazing fast 386 w/8Mb...,not even mentioning the ancient one we had on an even older TI).. still use a CalComp Drawingboard III 12x12 [calcomp.com] sometimes, 16 buttons that can be mapped to anything I want is nice sometimes (no need for jestures, just click a different button).

    Tm

  • When you see those startrek buffs running around with their cute tablets, you just know it's a good idea. But a tablet do run current programs and their three-mouse-button/keyboard GUI's is just dumb.

    Hospitals, institutions, huge engineering projects, universities, and of course NASA (who are secretly training the next first generation StarTrek crew)... They could do with them, provided the applications and above all kick ass Stupid Simple interfaces are there.

    As for me, I've already got a computer, a PSI
  • the killer app for a 1000 dollar tablet is a giant remote control?
  • Whoever admins that sever isn't too bright. The error indicates too many connections. Common sense and basic experience tells you to use a single persistent connection between your web server and your database backend. Sheesh. Of course, it would still get slashdotted, but at least it's not trying to deal with 1000's of separate sql connections then.
  • by pyrrho (167252)
    I remember back around 85 Apple had a contest for students to come up with a spec for the ideal machine of the future (2000! iirc), and the winner was basically a tablet computer.
  • by Fear the Clam (230933) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:59PM (#7606132)
    I see it as a combination of monitor, keyboard, and mouse. This way you can have a headless Mac running in the background with a cool-running, thin, relatively cheap portable. If you want to upgrade, you upgrade the box under the desk, not the tablet. This way, cheap people can use it with a G3/G4 as a cheap upgrade, and power users can use it with a G5. If the wireless range is good enough, you could use it to stream DVDs and Web stuff anywhere you wanted to use it.

    The problems are (a) it would suck power like a mofo, so you'd have to plug it in, (b) the wireless range limits just how useful it could be before you'd have to start adding expensive, power-sucking, stuff like a hard drive to it, and (c) it you're doing a lot of keyboard entry, you'd want to hook up a keyboard, and probably sit down with this thing propped up like a conventional monitor.
  • by mdarksbane (587589) on Tuesday December 02, 2003 @12:45AM (#7606727)

    Would be one of the Lamp iMacs with a detacheable pressure-sensitive screen.

    The first thought that went through my head when Steve introduced those things was that he was going to pop the screen off. Think about it; the biggest problem with tablets are managing to fit the processing power, hard drive, battery, ram, etc. into a thin enough shell that it feels like nothing more than a thin notebook you write on. I love my Tibook, but as light as it feels for a laptop, it's too generally unwieldy to be a comfortable writing tablet. I don't see you how could make anything more than a very underpowered, annoying laptop trying to fit everything into the screen and ignore all attempts at a keyboard. The point of a useful tablet is not to replace the functionality of a laptop; I can type twice as fast as I can write, and the form allows for a hard drive of useful size, a good video processor, etc. Where a tablet pc comes in handy is a replacement for a sketch pad, or for a system where you're only needing to point and click, like web browsing. These activities don't need good processors and large hard drives, and so current tablets lack both. The problem is that you must justify spending another thousand dollars, the cost of a separate computer, for just these little conveniences. A laptop and a wacom tablet are a much easier investment.

    The solution? Leave the hard drive, the main processor, and the video memory where they belong; in the base of that little lamp. And when you want a full computer, leave the monitor in and you got it. But for those moments when you really feel like sitting on the couch and browsing the web (without, I may add, a Titanium oven burning through your pants), you just pop off the display and go sit down. Run everything over 802.11g and a custom version of x11; it's perfectly fast enough over a direct LAN connection for browsing the web. And suddenly, the tablet is not a neat-looking expensive extra, but a very, very cool extra feature of your main system. Tablets with current technology are too "niche" to be really useful or marketable. So don't separate them into their own niche; make the niche a part of an existing system. It's the only situation in which *I'd* ever consider one worth having, at least.

  • by Macka (9388) on Tuesday December 02, 2003 @09:38AM (#7608491)

    ... Understand that 802.15.3 is a high data rate Personal Area Network with a range of about 10 meters ... ... Watch TV in your bathroom, access your audio and video collection from anywhere in the house ...
    Mr Cringely must live in a very small house !!

    Macka

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