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5 Reasons Tablets Suck, and You Won't Buy One 553

Posted by timothy
from the for-some-values-of-you dept.
Crazzaper writes "When the iPad was announced, a lot of people who didn't care about tablets came out to bash Apple's new device. These same people said 'I would have bought it if it had a full OS,' but in reality full OS tablets existed before the iPad rumors even started. This article gives an interesting perspective on why this happened, and argues that there's five big reasons why more powerful tablets exists but no one cares."
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5 Reasons Tablets Suck, and You Won't Buy One

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  • His Reasons Why... (Score:5, Informative)

    by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:07PM (#31552122) Homepage

    1. Tablets Are Niche Devices
    2. Full OSes Were Always There, Yet Those Who Complained That The iPad Doesn't Have One Still Never Bought One
    3. High-End Hardware Specs Sometimes Don't Matter
    4. Interface, Interface, Interface
    5. Lack Of Tablet Apps

  • by ffreeloader (1105115) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:10PM (#31552138) Journal

    I didn't get one though for one reason only: small monitors/screens. My eyesight is getting worse as I get older, and I really need a monitor larger than 12.1". I love the 17" monitor on my current laptop. It's easy to read and doesn't strain my eyes even at 1440x900.

    If tablets were made with 16"+ monitors I would have bought a tablet rather than my current laptop. I really like the capabilities of a tablet, but until/unless they are made with larger monitors I'll never buy one.

  • Re:Battery life (Score:4, Informative)

    by symbolset (646467) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:23PM (#31552228) Journal

    That would require quite a breakthrough, either in battery or processor tech.

    Apparently we have that. The new ARM processors when put with the new hardware decoders are capable of this, as we'll see. Apparently Apple was waiting for just this breakthrough to enable this platform and as soon as it was able, made it.

    The HP one will run Vista apparently on Intel Atom. I don't have high hopes they'll deliver as much battery life, though the platform will be very interesting. I would still rather have an Android slate with Snapdragon, and probably put a real Linux on it. I hear there are at least 150 models of that coming our way here soon.

    When it's time, it's time. It seems now it's time for this.

    Let's just try to remember that all of these things aren't about the widget - they're about the needs and desires of people, and what they can do with it. That, to me, is what's so frustrating about the Apple tablet. They're putting their business needs in the way of people's full exploitation of the device's potential, or allowing their cellular partners to do so. We'll have none of that nonsense on the Android version, or on the HP slate once Windows is wiped off and replaced with a decent OS.

  • My problem with iPad (Score:4, Informative)

    by mysidia (191772) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:26PM (#31552252)

    Is that it's not an open platform. It doesn't matter that much to me that it isn't the sake as a desktop OS X install, I am OK with that.

    My issues are:

    • No multitasking in the iPhone OS. Even cell phone OSes can do that.
    • No way to easily develop complex applications for it
    • The platform is closed: executables have to be signed, can't share or download software from third parties.
    • Closed APIs that the platform developer users for their own tools, but doesn't let anyone else use
    • Apple has to approve every frigging application.
    • The folks at Apple are total dicks about what applications they accept/refuse.
    • The folks at Apple can deactivate or tamper apps you have already purchaed, and tamper with your device's settings/experience at any time they feel like it.
    • The folks at Apple make retroactive rejections for stupid reasons, for example deactivating Commodore emulator after it was already approved. Refusing Google Voice.
    • App approval process It's not a simple "Is this program safe?", or has the developer tested it for stability check. They demand apps meet a long list of criteria that are difficult to meet, AND ordinary people will want apps that inherently don't meet all their stringent criteria.
  • Just got a Hp Tm2 [google.com]. Capacitive multitouch screen + Wacom pressure-sensitive digitiser screen + huge multitouch trackpad. I added a 3-button scrolling trackball for my own UI preference. 10 watt CULV dual-core CPU. Dual boot Ubuntu and Win7, with each virtualising the physical partition of the other on-demand, and virtual XP and OSx86 just for kicks. Yes, the basic screen UIs such as Gnome and Win7 File Explorer are less than optimal for finger manipulation. But there are so many replacement apps and shells that this is not really an issue. And the ability to avoid the mouse/trackball unless absolutely necessary and directly interact with the objects on screen is both amazing and liberating. I suspect that many of the people who diss on TabletPCs simply haven't really used one, or have not yet found a compelling reason to use one or haven't really looked very much. Personally, I use wanted a tablet for the immediacy of interacting directly on the screen, and the amazingly convenient comic book/ebook/media viewer it enables. I'm no stranger to mechanically disintermediated UIs -- was using a light pen in the early 1980s and a mouse since the Mac came out in the mid-80s -- but after a few years of a touchscreen phone/PDA I simply knew my next PC had to have touch. The irony is that with some deep discounting and some coupons, my TabletPC cost less than the higher-end iPad will cost, *and* it can easily run 1080p from both MKV/AVC and Flash with ease.

  • by tftp (111690) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:32PM (#31552304) Homepage

    Those "five reasons" are somewhat stupid. Let's see:

    they're unable to do everything you can do on a laptop - sure, and the laptop is unable to do everything that you can do on a quantum computer. So what? The only requirement here is for the tablet to do what you need it to do.

    They've shipped with stylus-pointing devices that were frankly not that easy to use - does this mean that a greasy finger that covers what you press is any better?

    Because full desktop/laptop operating systems don't work on a tablet device - that's certainly news (or another, deeper level of cluelessness on part of the author.) As matter of fact, they work just fine.

    All user-interface mechanics on a full-blown OS are designed to work with a mouse, not your finger/stylus - leaving dirty fingers alone, the stylus and the mouse are the same to the tablet.

    This is why phones have interfaces designed specifically for usage on their screen sizes and device sizes - and what does this have to do with tablets?

    Can you imagine pecking around with your finger on ultra-thin scroll bars and tiny buttons? - the author clearly has a finger mania.

    Very few people have one, let alone know of or even care about the device - I have a tablet, and other people have theirs, because they have a specific need for a tablet. A tablet is not a solution to all world's ills, it is a niche product - but if you have a niche application then it fits nicely.

    The point isn't to cram as much technology into a tablet as physically possible. It's far better to make the tablet really intuitive to use in a way that makes sense for that kind of form factor. - No, it's far more important to preserve compatibility with existing software. You can learn how to use a tablet in minutes, and you need to do it only once. However you can't write software that fast, and you need to do it every time you need a new application.

    Tablet makers: please, don't try to pump insane hardware specs into your tablets and bloat up prices. - the author is obviously unaware that most of PC functions are nowadays built into the same chip that has the CPU and memory interface and Ethernet and USB... it will cost more to have less.

    Then when you need to type, you have to put the stylus down and use your fingers or peck at the virtual keys with the thing - why do you need to "put the stylus down", I wonder? Besides, typing on any tablet, beyond a few words, is ill-advised. Typing requires a keyboard. However it is interesting that the author ignores existence of pretty good handwriting recognition systems for tablets. Perhaps because they require a stylus, and not fingers? :-)

    The fact that most tablets run on Windows or another non-tablet friendly OS means that pretty much most applications are not going to be tablet and finger friendly - it means just the opposite. A Windows or Linux tablet has access to all the apps that exist for those platforms, and all of those apps run just fine when controlled with a stylus. Granted, you'd have to have a frag wish if you control a FPS game with a stylus or your finger. But a USB mouse is what, $10 these days?

  • Speakers and OTA (Score:2, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:01PM (#31552538) Homepage Journal
    True, a PC can be all these things, but a jack of all trades is a master of none.

    The personal computer is a stereo

    Unlike even a $200 stereo, a PC isn't necessarily sold with decent speakers.

    a TV

    True, a PC is more skilled at video on demand. But what's the PC's counterpart to an over-the-air broadcast? Those are available even out in Bufftuck Nowhere where the only remotely high-speed Internet access option is satellite, which places severe limits on monthly viewing. Besides, most PC monitors aren't big enough for four people in a living room to sit comfortably around. If you want a big monitor for a PC, you have to buy (yes) a TV.

  • Re:Battery life (Score:5, Informative)

    by migla (1099771) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:32PM (#31552772)

    But really, when a company puts out a netbook in the form of a tablet, prices it like a netbook, then you'll see a lot of us come off the sidelines and buy.

    I don't know about the polish of the OS, but it's GNU/Linux, so the sky is the limit: http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/touchbook/ [alwaysinnovating.com]

    You can buy it without the keyboard.

  • by Aladrin (926209) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:34PM (#31552806)

    You say 'always', but HP has produced $800 tablets for years now. I upgraded one and spent $1200, but that's still half of your $2500.

    So, why didn't they catch on?

    The digitizer is just so-so
    The processor is crap and can't really handle digitizer input at full speed, even if the digitizer wasn't so-so.
    It's heavy. You imagine holding it on one arm and drawing with the other, like you might a clipboard... This will not happen for more than a couple minutes.
    It's touch-screen as well as having a digitizer. In theory, the touchscreen disables when the pen is near the screen, so your hand doesn't accidentally draw. In reality, the distance has to be too close, and you end up messing things up constantly.
    It's heavy. You imagine reading books on it, but it's simply a pain to move around while you're reading.
    It's hot. That processor, as weak as it is, produces so much heat that you'll think twice about setting it on your lap.
    Did I mention that it's heavy? Seriously. Everything you think you want to do with it will fail because it's just heavy.

    So, why do I expect the iPad and its competitors to succeed?

    They won't be heavy. Just like an iPod Touch or iPhone, it'll be a nice light-weight device that only does what it needs to: Display content!
    Decent book-readers are already $200-300 anyhow. (And they used to be $500.) For the media capabilities in a better tablet, the extra price is justified.
    You can run your already-existing mobile apps. The iPad will use your iPhone apps, and the Android devices will supposedly use your Android apps you've already bought. On all other computers, you're expected to repurchase your apps when you have multiple devices. (I've always thought this was a stupid policy. A person can only use 1 computer at a time anyhow, so just let them install it multiple times.)

  • Re:niches (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wovel (964431) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:00PM (#31553028) Homepage

    I have a lot of friends who absolutely love their netbooks, many have netbooks, laptops and desktop pcs. I own one 2 laptops atm but never saw the point of a netbook, it is too big to be realistically more portable than my Macbook pro. This is where the iPad fits and where others failed to do their homework. It has all the features that most people actually use on their netbooks.

  • Re:niches (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @08:25PM (#31553708) Homepage

    Not as consumer-grade goods, they didn't. The Atari VCS was widely available before home computers hit the appropriate price point for the consumer market.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Saturday March 20, 2010 @08:38PM (#31553792) Homepage Journal

    Why would I pay twice as much for this output device than I would pay for an iPhone?

    Because it's cheaper than getting LASIK so that you can read tiny text on an iPhone screen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 20, 2010 @09:39PM (#31554234)
    I'm not claiming other tablets meet your needs, but...

    2. it has a multitouch interface, unlike other tablets.

    Every tablet running Windows 7 (released 5 months ago) has a multitouch interface [pcmag.com].

    3. it has quite a low price.

    The ASUS Eee PC T91 [asus.com] convertible tablet is $453 [amazon.com] (with Windows XP) and the Lenovo S10 convertible netbook tablet is $480 [amazon.com].

    5. it is lighter than other devices.

    The Eee PC T91 (9-inch screen) weighs 2.1 pounds. The Lenovo S10 (10-inch screen) weighs 3 pounds and has 16 times more storage than the $500 3g-less iPad.

    For me, the only reason not considering an iPad is lack of Flash support and lack of openness.

    Windows 7 and Moblin-based Linux support Flash and are open, but I'm pretty sure their interfaces aren't quite there yet by your reasonable standards.

  • Re:Battery life (Score:3, Informative)

    by Svartalf (2997) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @09:40PM (#31554238) Homepage

    That would require quite a breakthrough, either in battery or processor tech.

    It's already here [open-pandora.org].

    I've seen it go 10 hours running an emulator (which is actually more stressful than the DSP's efforts to do HD video would be...) and this was with a single 13.5 watt-hour battery attached to the device.

    In the end, any Cortex-A8 or Sheeva based SoC with a DSP chip will do this out of box because of the power/performance profile they have.

  • Re:Battery life (Score:3, Informative)

    by node 3 (115640) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @11:10PM (#31554744)

    IT guys tend not to 'get it' when it comes to tablets, you need to have a real need for handwriting before it makes sense.

    There are only two cases where stylus-based input works on tablet PCs. One is handwriting input. The other is drawing/painting. That doesn't correct the fact that Windows itself is not well suited for stylus based input, regardless of the enhancements provided by Windows 7.

    Stylus on Windows (and Mac OS X and Linux) is an auxiliary, not a primary input. Using it as such is a kludge that degrades the overall user experience, and is only done because switching between tablet mode and notebook mode is too cumbersome a thing to do in order to switch between interacting with the WIMPs interface and going into note-taking mode.

    To me a tablet sans stylus makes absolutely no sense, and I'll take my eeepc (5 hrs battery life) over this kind of device anyday.

    Yeah, that's *so* much better than then iPad's 10 hour battery life...

    I do agree with you that note-taking is a viable task that hasn't really been tackled the way the standard WIMPs model has, and the current multitouch model has. There's no single device, other than a pad of paper and a pen or pencil, that is as well suited for writing as the WIMPs interface is for a mouse and multitouch is for the fingers.

    But please don't try to pretend that stylus input on Windows is natural and fully replaces the mouse. It's almost as much of an unsolved problem as having multitouch on a standard PC is. The problem with multitouch on a PC is the OS (take your pick) isn't suited, and the form factor isn't suited for holding your hands out up to a desktop display to interact with it (researchers knew this 50 years ago). The tablet at least has the right form factor (well, those tablets without a keyboard and mouse/trackpad anyway). But the OS support isn't there. All you're doing is using a pen as though it were a mouse. That's *why* those tablets all have keyboards and trackpads, and it's also why they don't sell well. They do one thing most every does pretty damned good (take notes) and do everything else quite poorly.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @02:02AM (#31555458)

    No, it's the same OS. You can't background GUI apps due to the iPhone OS's security model (hence the need to jailbreak), but iPhone OS is a fully multitasking and multithreading OS (and it makes extensive use of that ability).

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