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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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  • Battery life (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @03:57PM (#31552020) Journal

    The thing is, it's not about the widget. It's about the opportunities it enables, the possibilities it creates. A tablet that plays 10 hours of hi-def video and audio on one battery charge definitely has its niche. One that does so on a screen that you can actually use with Citrix or RDP over wireless or cellular wireless? Another niche. Ebooks too? You can use it to carry your reference materials? And you can keep up with your social media at the same time? What about navi? Will it find me the closest theatre that's playing the movie I want to see, even if I'm in a strange town, give me showtimes and navigate me to it?

    Yeah, a full OS on a tablet platform isn't going to fly - until the tablet is powerful enough and the OS light enough to do enough niche things that it has broad utility. That would be right about... now.

    • A tablet that plays 10 hours of hi-def video and audio on one battery charge definitely has its niche.

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

      But you're right, it is about the opportunities it enables and possibilities it can create. If my blackberry had a video projection system, or if I had shades with hi-def monitors in them it would be way better than any tablet for me. The OS is beautifully optimized for the hardware.

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

        by symbolset (646467) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:23PM (#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.

      • by Vancorps (746090)
        That would require neither as HP sells extended life batteries giving you up to 16 hours of battery life. with HD video it should get you a good 10 hours. This is also an accessory for their tablet. I'm sure Lenovo and the others have such options too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Svartalf (2997)

        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:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:55PM (#31552486) Homepage Journal

      It's about the opportunities it enables

      It's also about the price.

      Apple has the right idea, having a tablet start at $500. Other companies should be able to make something similar for $350.

      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. It's not that we have anything against tablets, it's just that it's not really worth an additional $500 for the privilege of not having a physical keyboard. Few people would use a tablet as their main system. But a lot of people would like to have one in addition to their main system. For that, the price point needs to be well under $500, and it needs to have a real OS, and no tie-ins to a single source for applications.

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

        by migla (1099771) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:32PM (#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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mikael_j (106439)

        It's also about the price.

        Indeed, or to be more specific it's what you get for your money, the big problem I've had in the past when I've shopped around for a good tablet has been that I've wanted a few things:

        1. Wacom "Penabled"
        2. Good monitor.
        3. Decent price

        Last time I looked around most manufacturers seemed to almost make it a point not to mention anything other than "it has a stylus" (are you sure? wow! I thought I would have to operate it by throwing rocks at it!) and the monitor's quality is at best an afterthought. The exception to t

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dangitman (862676)

        But really, when a company puts out a netbook in the form of a tablet, prices it like a netbook

        But if it's in the form of a tablet, then how is it a netbook any longer? It seems to me that the *book designation (see: Powerbook, Notebook) derives from devices that have a folding screen/keyboard form factor. If it is a tablet that doesn't fold, then it's not a netbook anymore, is it?

        Also, what does "pricing it like a netbook" mean? There are netbooks out there that cost more than tablets.

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

      by node 3 (115640) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:02PM (#31553062)

      Yeah, a full OS on a tablet platform isn't going to fly - until the tablet is powerful enough and the OS light enough to do enough niche things that it has broad utility. That would be right about... now.

      No, it's never going to fly, if you mean running a desktop OS mostly unaltered, on a tablet. Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. None of these are well suited for even stylus based interaction, let alone multitouch. Things like window titlebars, close and minimize buttons, menus. None of these are very usable in multitouch.

      Apple's take on Mac OS X as the iPhone OS is the right direction. Similar is Google's take on Linux as Android. But the idea of running Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux on a tablet is doomed, no matter what the technology is that goes into the battery, processor and display.

      It's the interface, stupid.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by daver00 (1336845)

        Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. None of these are well suited for even stylus based interaction, let alone multitouch.

        I disagree, strongly. Windows Vista has numerous enhancements for stylus input, 7 has even more and they both work well for certain tasks on a stylus machine. I have a convertible hp tablet pc, it has been my primary machine for university for two years now, and for mathematics/engineering, could not be better. The stylus is a marked improvement over the stupid trackpad, vastly more accurate a

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by node 3 (115640)

          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 cumbe

  • niches (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @03:58PM (#31552028) Homepage

    More powerful = lower battery life. Yes, tablets are niche devices, but if you think about it there are a LOT of niches a tablet with some flexibility and a good amount of battery life can fill. Book reader, obviously. Notepad replacement, somewhat. Inventory control, yup. It's all been a matter of expense, durability, communications and operating life.

    • More powerful = lower battery life.

      Not necessarily devices for instance tend to grow more powerful over time while also gaining increased battery life via various improvements. However more powerful in the context of say a single sector of a single release cycle and then yes you will see the trade offs in power for battery life.

    • Re:niches (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:15PM (#31552180) Homepage

      Jesse Schell, in his famous DICE talk, explained why the iPhone succeeded and the iPad will flop. Paraphrased:

      Convergence doesn't happen. Technologies diverge, for the most part. The PVR diverged from the desktop computer which diverged from the game console. The only reason why the iPhone, a case of convergence, was so successful was what he called the "pocket exception" - things that go in your pocket converge with each other.

      The Swiss Army knife is an example of convergence: it has scissors, tweezers, knives, files, screwdrivers, etc. It does nothing perfectly and everything adequately. The iPhone is like that. But if someone got you a "Swiss Army" kitchen utensil, with a spatula and a ladle and tongs and a couple knives in a single sheath, you would think it was the stupidest thing in the world. "And that's why everyone hates the iPad."

      • I reckon that making a computer that only allows multi-tasking for certain applications is a pretty crap idea as well. This, apparently, is the case for it: http://smokingapples.com/opinion/multi-tasking-iphone-ipad/ [smokingapples.com] which makes perfect sense on a phone but zero sense on a computer.

      • Re:niches (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LtGordon (1421725) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:42PM (#31552374)
        Also, the iPhone had a huge advantage simply in that most people already owned phones, and so the iPhone was really just a cool upgrade from what they had, and can cost as little as $99 upfront. For the iPad to succeed, Apple will have to convince people that now they need to go out and buy a tablet computer for ~$500. At best, I see them dominating the eBook-reader and netbook markets, which are in themselves relatively small. Sales will never be on the same order of magnitude as the iPhone.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by beelsebob (529313)

          This comment almost gets to the heart of the matter. You're absolutely right, iPad sales will probably be dwarfed iPhone sales, as Mac sales are dwarfed by iPhone sales and iPhone sales are dwarfed by iPod sales. The bottom line though is that Macs, despite selling *far* fewer than iPhones and iPods still make up a third of apple's profits.

          Apple isn't going for a device that sells millions and millions and millions, they're going for a device that sells perhaps a million or ten, and has really high margin

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 4iedBandit (133211)

          You seem to forget history. The iPhone was not initially sold in a subsidized version and it still sold and sold a ton before Apple came out with a subsidized pricing plan. What did it offer over other phones that made millions of people go out and buy it for full price? It's widely accepted that feature wise the iPhone has lagged over the competition, and still it's been wildly popular.

          If you have great form but lousy function your product will fail. If you have lousy form but fantastic function you

        • Re:niches (Score:4, Insightful)

          by tftp (111690) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:43PM (#31553412) Homepage

          At best, I see them dominating the eBook-reader and netbook markets

          There is a comment, just above, doubting iPad's impact in eBook market. I also see it this way, given that Kindle or Sony or B&N readers cost half that much, and 3G is included for free. There is also that eternal debate about eInk vs. backlit screens... and certainly battery life of an eInk device is infinitely better than anything that iPad has to offer.

          But netbook market, IMO, is not going to curl up and die either. A netbook is a fully functioning portable computer. You can consume information with it, and you can equally well create information with it. This is important for people with urge to post every 5 minutes what they are doing (mostly "updating my Facebook page", apparently :-) iPad, on the other hand, is a consumption device - you can browse the Web, somewhat (without Flash) and you can watch movies, but you can't do much else. Posting a comment like this on /. would be painful, and writing a larger text would be foolish. Netbooks, with their keyboards, however small, are still better suited to the bidirectional exchange of information, and all that comes in a single package - you open it and you are good to go. No need to carry separate adapters, separate dock, separate keyboard.

          I personally see iPad productively used only as a supplementary, generic Web browser. It won't have any plugins (like MS Media Player) that many Web sites use to stream music. It won't have any of the software that you know how to operate. Everything will be new, and everything will have to be bought. This will result in few apps sold, certainly less than those for iPhone. Who, outside of a few fanbois, is going to "accessorize" a computer that you rarely use and hardly ever carry with you? Especially when you already have that functionality working just fine, usually for free, on your laptop - the device that is the real competitor of iPad.

      • Re:niches (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:45PM (#31552396)
        Convergence happens all the time. My home phone has an intercom and answering machine built in. By refrigerator has a built-in water dispenser. A typical TV is the convergence of a monitor, sound system, and receiver. Some even have built-in DVD players. How many all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier devices are on the market? I have a stereo with a CD turntable and tape deck built in (yes, I'm old but not old enough to have a record player on top of it). My desk has a filing cabinet built into it. How many microwave ovens have vents to help vent fumes from the range they are positioned above? In short, convergence happens when it makes sense.
      • Re:niches (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tronbradia (961235) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:45PM (#31552402)

        The only reason why the iPhone, a case of convergence, was so successful was what he called the "pocket exception" - things that go in your pocket converge with each other..."And that's why everyone hates the iPad."

        Um, no.

        The personal computer is a stereo, a TV, a typewriter, a calculator, and serves infinite other random functions. But I mean, who would want one of those? Oh sorry I guess you keep yours in your pocket.

        • Re:niches (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Cyberax (705495) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:09PM (#31552602)

          Yet most people do not use PC to watch TV. And most people nowdays will just buy a console rather than build a gaming PC.

          That's what grandparent was talking about.

          • Re:niches (Score:4, Interesting)

            by beelsebob (529313) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:43PM (#31552874)

            Yes, but look at consoles... What could a typical console from 1990 do? It could play games. What can an XBox or a PS3 do? It can play games, browse the net, play movies from disks, act as a storage server for your games and movies, play TV over the internet... In fact, one could call a typical games console these days the convergence of a old-word console, a DVD player, a TV receiver, a simple computer for browsing amongst probably many other functions that I don't use daily.

            You're right, most people *don't* use their PC for watching TV, but I would bet that in 10 years time most people *will* use their PC to watch TV. That's because that particular convergence is still in the process of happening.

            The bottom line is that devices both converge and diverge, to suggest that one dominates the other is idiotic, what's ultimately happening is that devices are *evolving* to provide more functionality in less complexity and more usability.

            The iPad will succeed because it does this – it makes a substantial group of tasks possible, and another group significantly easier than previous devices made them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Fjandr (66656)

          Given a comparison between it and discrete component for any one of those uses and it doesn't measure up. In the beginning, it was divergent in that it was designed to do complex calculations that were difficult (and now some that would be impossible for all practical purposes) to perform using current tools. Further development was driven by the leveraged power of persistent two-way network connections, something also divergent from existing technologies. The convergence of a PC has been a result of that l

      • Re:niches (Score:4, Interesting)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:50PM (#31552436)

        The Swiss Army knife is an example of convergence: it has scissors, tweezers, knives, files, screwdrivers, etc. It does nothing perfectly and everything adequately. The iPhone is like that. But if someone got you a "Swiss Army" kitchen utensil, with a spatula and a ladle and tongs and a couple knives in a single sheath, you would think it was the stupidest thing in the world. "And that's why everyone hates the iPad."

        The problem is, Mr. Schell is trying to apply rules but doesn't really understand them at the heart of the matter. It's not just things that fit in our pockets that we want to converge, but items we carry in our daily lives, when we have limited space. Cars and stereo systems don't fit in our pockets, but for some reason cars all have built in stereos. We could all just bring boom boxes with us in the car, but we don't because the benefit of having the stereo there all the time outweighs the duplication and the fact that car stereos are usually not as high of quality due to space and cost concerns.

        Ask college students if they want all their textbooks to converge into a single device, if it can be done so without increasing cost or removing important features. Items like backpacks, luggage, sunglasses, clothing, personal transport, etc. are instances where convergence is desired by the general public. When was the last time you saw a student carrying a laptop case and a separate bag for their books? Those have pretty much converged at this point... but contrary to Mr. Schell's assertion you can't fit either in your pocket.

        Now I don't plan on buying an iPad anytime soon, nor would I venture to guess how successful of a product it is going to be without trying one out. But this sort of overgeneralization as a method of prediction is weak tea.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by twidarkling (1537077)

          Those have pretty much converged at this point... but contrary to Mr. Schell's assertion you can't fit either in your pocket.

          *parry*
          No, but they are in and of themselves oversized pockets, or in other words, a space where weight and size are more important than pure functionality. If I'm carrying a netbook around already, or a small notebook/laptop, then the iPad needs to be either lighter, smaller, or much more useful than the netbook in order to be worth the space.

          *riposte*
          If my phone has most or all of the same functionality as the iPad, just scaled down, and my netbook covers much of the rest, scaled up, then the iPad is not

          • Re:niches (Score:4, Insightful)

            by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:44PM (#31552884)

            Those have pretty much converged at this point... but contrary to Mr. Schell's assertion you can't fit either in your pocket.

            *parry* No, but they are in and of themselves oversized pockets, or in other words, a space where weight and size are more important than pure functionality.

            I notice you neglect my other examples, but that's okay they serve only to show that convergence happens for all sorts of things that don't fit in a pocket. Rather, items that people carry with them or use when they have limited space. Can we agree upon that?

            If I'm carrying a netbook around already...

            Who says you are? More importantly, who says the average consumer is?

            ...then the iPad needs to be either lighter, smaller, or much more useful than the netbook in order to be worth the space.

            Or cheaper or easier to use for the average person or easier to hold in one hand while walking or less cumbersome as a book reader. Or it could provide functionality in the form of accessible content, just as the iPod did when it took over the digital music player market.

            If my phone has most or all of the same functionality as the iPad, just scaled down, and my netbook covers much of the rest, scaled up, then the iPad is not a device to fit in the "pocket convergence" area.

            Again you assume most people carry both a smartphone and a netbook, but that is likely not the case. The idea of "pocket convergence" is flawed in and of itself, as I pointed out. Whether or not the iPad will succeed and whether or not it actually is a convergence of e-book readers and umm PDAs (was that your theory) has nothing to do with whether or not it will fit in a pocket.

          • Re:niches (Score:4, Informative)

            by Wovel (964431) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:00PM (#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.

      • Not at all true (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mosb1000 (710161)

        First of all, who said that the iPad is a "convergence" device? It's not meant to replace desktops and laptops (in fact, it requires one!) it's meant to supplement them.

        Secondly, broad generalizations rarely make accurate predictions. This argument makes no sense because it makes no real consideration of the merits and potential uses for the device. As long as it fills an unfilled niche, or works better than existing alternatives it will find success.

        For example, I currently have a laptop, but is it not

      • by Vidar Leathershod (41663) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:17PM (#31552656)

        Jesse Schell, known mostly to his friends and colleagues as a game designer, spoke at "DICE", where maybe a few hundred people heard him, and said the iPad, which has not yet been released, will not succeed. He then went on to explain his theories regarding what makes a successful product, based on his experience in designing things that have unit sales measured in millions.

        Then, some guy on Slashdot quoted him, which sent Apple's stock into a nose dive as everyone who read it decided not to buy an iPad because *the* Jesse Schell said they won't want to.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xtal (49134)

        Jesse Schell is wrong.

        The iPad will succeed very well for it's targeted market. Here's a hint: it's not you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wovel (964431)

        His own logic could easily be used to explain why the ipad will succeed as something diverging from a PC with a more specific subset of features. If the ipad was actually a giant phone, he might have a point, but it is actually a specialized computer.

        He got lost in the imagery and failed to use his own logic.

    • by causality (777677)

      More powerful = lower battery life. Yes, tablets are niche devices, but if you think about it there are a LOT of niches a tablet with some flexibility and a good amount of battery life can fill. Book reader, obviously. Notepad replacement, somewhat. Inventory control, yup. It's all been a matter of expense, durability, communications and operating life.

      The problem I see is that, in principle, these devices are produced by marketing processes the way much legislation is produced by our political process. By that I mean, it doesn't come from a genuine need or from overwhelming customer demand. It's a solution in search of a problem. They are producing these devices and then trying to find uses/markets for them instead of finding a use/market and producing a device to fit that need. To me this is backwards. Because this is being done in a backwards fash

  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:00PM (#31552052) Homepage

    That's a heck of a lot of Microsoft pushing for one little article.

    That said, I agree fully. Tablets have always sucked, and the iPad is just another iteration of the same game. Maybe it'll bring some fresh ideas to usability, and maybe not. For the few folks who actually have a use for a tablet, it's an exciting time.

    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

      by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte.gmail@com> on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:30PM (#31552280)

      Totally agreed. That article had m$ written all over the place. I loved how he jumped to the conclusion "microsft has to do this" after each reason of why the tablets suck.

      The article, in fewer words "The iPad sucks, just like every other tablet, and only microsoft can save us from tablet-sucking. Oh! They are about to release a tablet, how convenient."

      More advertisement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The reason why it mentions Microsoft so much is because Microsoft is, indeed, one of the oldest players in this market, trying to make it viable(and always failing). Heck, the very term "tablet" with relation to a computer was originally popularized by MS.

      So, like it or not, but any discussion about tablets would have to invoke the name of Microsoft more than once - if only to adequately explain its failure.

  • by CxDoo (918501) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:02PM (#31552078)

    Breaking news!

    I own a tablet PC.
    It kicks ass.
    And runs Windows 7.
    Which kicks ass too.

    Now continue with the program.

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

    by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:07PM (#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

  • Tablets suck (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe&jwsmythe,com> on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:08PM (#31552126) Homepage Journal

        I agree with the article. Their reasons are pretty good.

        I've owned a couple of tablets (bought from friends who grew tired of them), and worked on a few more. Generally, they do suck. Like it or not, you'll get to a point where you need to type something out, and voila, you wish you had a laptop. Most of the tablets could switch to laptop mode, but who wants to keep flipping their computer around just to be able to type. Eventually, the stylus is stuck in it's holder, and you now have a very expensive, and usually slower, laptop.

        I'm working on a piece of embedded equipment right now, with a touch screen. The interface is absolutely perfect, as long as you're giving a selection of large buttons to push. We even have provisions in our interface for a full QWERTY keyboard for the portions that require that kind of input.

        800x600 on a 8" screen is cute, and wonderful for a 10-key (0-9), but those fun and games go away if I switch away from the specific application. We have a keyboard and mouse attached too. The touch screen is all fun and games, unless you want to do something serious.

        I tried out the PDA fad once upon a time too. You don't realize how much typing is required until you try to send a real email, or ssh to a server. No number of aliased commands made up it. Even from my crackberry, I may send a few paragraphs, since it has a qwerty keyboard, but writing something like this, I wait until I'm at a real computer.

    • Win7 has an excellent virtual keyboard. On my 1280x800 8.9" tablet convertible, it can sit on the lower 3rd of the screen and I type quite quickly (no touch-typing tho) and a slightly larger device, coupled with multi-touch would most likely work even better.

  • well duh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by peragrin (659227) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:08PM (#31552128)

    Windows is not and never has been a tablet OS. a Tablet isn't a desktop, you can't use the two in the same fashion. the pointers are different(fingers/stylus, vs a mouse pointer) You can't just graph touch inputs into a desktop GUI, and expect everything to work right. MSFT has made one decent touch based app, That is why tablets have thus failed. Everyone tries to treat them as notebooks with touch screens, not as tablets with their own gui designs.

    Apple with their sometimes annoying closed systems, are breaking MSFT out of their bad habits. It took 3-4 years but MSFT fianlly realized that putting a desktop Interface on their phones was a bad idea that limited usability. With the Ipad maybe in 5 years MSFT will make a real windows tablet OS, that ditches a wide bar that eats up valuable real estate and come up with a new way to work with tablets. I would say linux might get their first, but Linux devs while innovative seem to have no luck in advertising to manufacturers.

    typing this on my mac, with my Iphone nearby i will say i won't get an ipad, my purpose of a small tablet will be primarily for browsing and unfortunately that will require flash. though someone finally taking a stand against flash is refreshing.

    • by jd142 (129673)

      You're right, a real tablet needs a different os and a different metaphor for interaction.

      For example, most people are probably going to be single tasking on a tablet, but still want multiple tasks open at once. Surf the web, but have your im in the background to pop up when you get a message.

      Get rid of the menu bars and task launchers that are always on teh scrieen and make use of the types of input you have available. For example, tapping with three fingers at once (just like hitting ctrl+alt+del) could

  • 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.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:11PM (#31552146) Homepage

    There's a class of devices which are mostly-output. Game machines, e-readers, and smartphones without keyboards fall into this category. Their primary function is to display content created elsewhere. Input requirements are minimal.

    Think of Apple's "iPad" as a big e-reader, with color and video, and it makes more sense.

    • by BoberFett (127537)

      It actually makes less sense. Why would I pay twice as much for this output device than I would pay for an iPhone? If it's not meant for input anyways, might as well get the cheaper, more portable version.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by beelsebob (529313)

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

        I don't know, lucky then that the iPad is $500, and the iPhone is $800.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tepples (727027)

        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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by weston (16146)

      Think of Apple's "iPad" as a big e-reader, with color and video, and it makes more sense.

      And a touch screen. And an optional keyboard peripheral.

      I see a lot of reductionist views of the iPad and my own take is that these miss the mark. Yeah, I do think it's designed to capture part of the eReader market (not all, since some people will insist on e-ink)... but I think it's also designed to capture part of the netbook market (though not all, because some people will insist on having another OS and more freedo

  • by whereiswaldo (459052) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:19PM (#31552204) Journal

    "Within five years, I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America. It will come with a full 640 KB of RAM which should be enough for anybody. We will continue to out-innovate Apple. Then we're going to fscking kill Google."

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:24PM (#31552238)

      I actually remember nearly ten years ago sitting about fifty feet away from Bill Gates while he was holding up his wonderful new tablet PC and telling us that it was going to be the future of computing; I wondered what kind of crack he was smoking at the time (well, we were in LA after all), and I still wonder today.

      I can certainly see cases where a tablet would be far more useful than a laptop or netbook, but for general computing it's a non-starter.

  • by oneTheory (1194569) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:21PM (#31552220)
    I have no intention of getting an iPad, but all the reasons the article points out why tablets suck actually point to the possibility that the iPad might actually succeed.

    Unlike the other tablets, the iPad is designed with an interface done correctly for a tablet. It's not trying to be a full OS because the interface wouldn't work correctly. It's going with the iPhone OS which is a touch-centric OS.
  • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:22PM (#31552224)

    The biggest reason tablets have never succeeded more is because they've always been expensive. I've seen some tablets I'd love to own, but they're in the $2,000 - $2,500 range, which is way more than I'll spend on a tablet. Now that we're reaching the point where costs are low enough that they can make decently powered tablets in the $500-$700 range, which is where the typical laptop is (I said laptop, not netbook), I think that they'll sell a lot more.

    Go throughout history and you see plenty of innovations that never catch on until a decade or so later when the prices drop significantly to where people don't view buying one as a major investment.

    • by BoberFett (127537)

      A full laptop can also do a lot more than the iPad. Pads need to get to the $200-300 range before we see widespread adoption. That's why I was excited for the Crunchpad until was stillbirthed.

      • by ahankinson (1249646) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:32PM (#31552774)

        You won't get an argument from me - a laptop will definitely do "more."

        The iPad isn't built to do more. In fact, it's almost explicitly designed to do less. I predict it will be a big hit for the people that don't need to do more, but rather do the same thing every day with their computer: read their e-mail, check a few webpages, maybe look at some pictures or watch a movie. About the only thing I can think of that the iPad would do better than a laptop is for reading books.

        Truth is, most people don't need their computers to do more. They just want it to do the things they understand, which is often a very limited subset of tasks.

    • by Aladrin (926209) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:34PM (#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.)

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

    by mysidia (191772) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:26PM (#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.
    • Don't buy an iPad!

      There are rumors that limited third-party multi-tasking support is coming, but if Apple's level of dick-i-tude is over your threshold of acceptability, that's not likely to change in the near future.

      I'm not saying I agree that they're dicks, nor that I disagree. I understand and respect that this metric is pretty subjective. If you had published an app that was accepted, for instance, and sold a million copies, I'm sure you'd feel somewhat different. But love them or hate them, th
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Culture20 (968837)

        Don't buy an iPad!

        If we, the geeks, don't fight stupid moves in computing they may become the norm. Yes, 80% (or some other made up percentage) of people might be okay with a limited OS, but if lots of other computer companies run with this Computer Feudalism, bad things will result.

    • by oneTheory (1194569) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:52PM (#31552456)
      ...unfortunately apple is one of the only companies that is willing to invest in creating new interfaces for new devices instead of slapping windows on there and expecting that it will be useful.

      Hence the iPhone for 2 years was one of the only devices with an interface allowing the best use of the hardware. Tons of other phones had great hardware features but crappy interfaces that made the overall device cumbersome.
    • by xtal (49134) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:54PM (#31552962)

      Nobody cares it's not an open platform. It is marketed towards people who just want to accomplish certain things, and it is designed to do those things _very well_.

      When an open platform does those things, perhaps we have something to talk about.

      For end user, polished applications, the open platform solutions have been total epic fail.

  • by meehawl (73285) <meehawl,spam&gmail,com> on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:26PM (#31552260) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • A tablet or slate running OS X would suck (for most uses) as badly as a slate running Windows Tablet Edition does. That's why Apple refused to make one: Jobs doesn't like to repeat the colossal, obvious mistakes of others, because that'd make him look mortal. ;) Tablets do have some things they're good for – I have an "hpad" (HP TC1100 slate) that I run Photoshop on, and it's a great drawing tablet; I work for a nursing facility that makes some decent use of TabletPC Thinkpads – but it's true:

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:28PM (#31552270)

    Okay, we get it. Windows tablets never took off the way Microsoft thought they would. The iPad is a failure, even though it hasn't been released yet and we have no idea how well or poorly it will sell. Anyone who is excited about the iPad is a Mac Fanboi. Everyone who trashes the iPad is a Windows Zealot. Your opinion is silly and unsupportable because it differs from mine.

    There, I saved you some reading.

  • by tftp (111690) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:32PM (#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?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dfghjk (711126)

      The article is an example of starting out with an opinion and deriving all your arguments from it. The author has clearly bought into Apple's argument for tablet UI usability. All his arguments flow from that propaganda.

  • see also (Score:2, Interesting)

    I said pretty much the same things, but much better:

    http://lumma.org/microwave/#2010.02.25 [lumma.org]

    -Carl

  • Long Tail... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bennomatic (691188) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:39PM (#31552352) Homepage
    There's niches and there's niches. It would be possible to create a device that's useful for only one task, and if only a few million people in the world are interested in that task, then you've got a really limited market.

    Tablet devices have long been billed as fully functional computes with a new form-factor, but in some ways, they've been the worst of both worlds. As others have pointed out, the form-factor is typically tacked onto the OS, rather than both being designed to work flawlessly together. And they've historically been underpowered systems which would never replace a desktop.

    What's interesting about the iPad is that it answers a different question than other tablets have. Rather than asking, "what sort of device would computer users want to buy?", it seems to me that Apple has asked, "What sort of device would appeal to people who hate computers?"

    That question leads to others, like, "What tasks do people want to do without having to boot up a computer?" Reading, watching movies, web browsing, playing games. Sure, there are more things you can do with an iPad--they wouldn't have migrated iWork to the platform if they didn't think some people would want to use it for work--but I think the main thing they've done is build something that is indeed a computer, but that a lot of people who don't like computers don't have to see as one.

    Like Apple or not, they've done a great job with interface design on the iPhone, and the lessons learned there transfer well to the iPad. Will it succeed or fail? I don't know; it depends on your definition, I guess. I doubt iPad sales will ever quite catch up with the iPhone's, but of course, that's a pretty high bar to shoot for. They've set their target at 10 million this year. Again, like Apple or not, it's been a while since they fell short of sales estimates, even on completely new products.

    In fact, they've made some big wins on products which everyone thought would fail. The original iPod was going to be just another MP3 player. They killed the iPod Mini, their most successful model, at its sales peak and replaced it with the Nano, a complete redesign, and got a huge sales bump. They made the screen-less shuffle, providing fewer features than the competitors that Jobs referred to as crap, and outselling those competitors by a mile. They released the iPhone for $599, no SDK, no MMS, no cut and paste, and all sorts of other things wrong with it according to the chatter on the Internet, and yet, here we are.

    I'm sure there are going to be a lot of new tablets released in short order, some of which might be even better than Apple's in some ways or others. But I'm not sure it's time to bet against Apple in terms of long term success for the product.
    • by BoberFett (127537)

      Clearly the west isn't interested, so I'm just going to have to wait for some Chinese company to build a cheap, wireless web tablet. That's all I want. Nothing more, nothing less. If I want to do anything that actually requires a computer, I'll use a real computer.

  • by Zigurd (3528) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:41PM (#31552362) Homepage

    Earlier tablet products were user interface disasters. Fiddly pen-based inputs. Bad handwriting recognition. Tiny, mouse-oriented buttons.

    iPhone changed the set of expectations for a touch UI. iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, and other new-generation touch UIs will leave the old tablet UIs behind. iPad will pioneer a new generation of office productivity software specifically designed for touch interaction.

    So, while there is no guarantee this is all enough to make tablets a success, it sure is not a rehash of previous failed products. Tablet prices are also low enough to encourage experimentation rather than to require a business case for a more expensive device.

  • by ilyag (572316) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:46PM (#31552406)

    I use the tablet to take down mathematical lectures on it. It's very nice for lectures which use tons of math symbols and diagrams, especially because it doesn't clutter up my desk as much. I find it nicer to have tons of files that I almost never look at, than when I had tons of papers I almost never look at, then lost and couldn't find when I did need one.

    However, I can't invent any other use for a tablet PC. If math lectures didn't have diagrams, I'd use Word or LaTeX. Typing is faster than writing on a tablet. Maybe art students have a use for it? Anybody know other uses?

  • Why don't they follow the trend with phones and have a smaller slide out keyboard. It doesn't have to be a full one, just one like cell phones have, Qwerty only with an Alt key for numbers and special characters. If three rows of full size keys are too much, even a cell phone sized keyboard would help, I've kinda gotten used to typing with my thumbs now. It beats a touch screen keyboard.

  • by master_p (608214) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:01PM (#31552532)

    Apple's tablet is different from other tablets so far:

    1. it does not have a user interface that follows the desktop metaphor, which is not appropriate for a tablet.
    2. it has a multitouch interface, unlike other tablets.
    3. it has quite a low price.
    4. it boots way faster than other devices.
    5. it is lighter than other devices.

    For me, the only reason not considering an iPad is lack of Flash support and lack of openness. I think it's on the right path, and if these two are solved, I'll consider buying one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TuringTest (533084)

      There are two reasons why I'm not considering an iPad, lack of Flash support and lack of openness. And it doesn't have any USB ports.

      Ok, there are three reasons why I'm not considering an iPad: lack of Flash support, lack of openness, and lack of USB ports. And no webcam.

      Oh wait...

  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:11PM (#31552616) Homepage Journal

    Let me start by saying that the only Apple device I own right now is an Ipod touch. I'm typing this on a Windows notebook and my big machine is a Windows desktop. I don't have any love for Apple or their policies - they do some things right and some things very, very wrong.

    That said, there's some changes in "books" coming. We've had Kindle and Sony reader for a while and now others are jumping on the bandwagon. As limited as those devices are, they're selling in very large numbers. Kindle is Amazon's number one selling product - that says something, right? As the number of e-readers becomes larger and larger there's more incentive for the publishing houses to make their books available electronically. Between that and the large public domain book libraries available online there's a strong case for electronic books.

    But sitting in a chair at a desktop computer to read books online is awkward - and trying to do it on a notebook is even worse. The Ipod touch is a little better but the screen is too darned small. We like to be able to hold the book and sit / slouch / lay wherever so a tablet-like e-reader is probably the best solution. Unfortunately, the attempts at tablet machines up to this point have been ill-conceived botches. Windows isn't made to be a tablet operating system - its touchscreen support is primitive and incomplete. This and the need of designers to add just one more feature has resulted in fragile yet heavy machines with short battery life - not worth their price.

    Some say that the Ipad is limited - but if what I do is read email, browse the web and play an occasional game or two then it does 99.9% of what I need. Add in music and videos and that slick multi-touch interface and it meets my needs very well. Yes, I know - and when I need to do some serious typing, write some code, etc. I'll sit down at that Windows desktop and go to work. Apple did one more very nice thing - they made a case for the Ipad that opens like a book. This allows you to hold it like a book; same approximate size and weight, just like you're used to.

    I've been watching this electronic book stuff for a while now - and I feel it's time for me to jump. I'll give away / donate my home library (thousands of dusty books) and replace them with an Ipad. Even if it did nothing else it'd be worth the price for just this one function.

  • technologies divert (Score:3, Interesting)

    by e**(i pi)-1 (462311) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:17PM (#31552666) Homepage Journal
    > Convergence doesn't happen. Technologies diverge, for the most part.

    That is exactly the reason why I ordered an iPad. The iPod is great to read nontechnical books, write quick emails or have a glance at news while away from the office. It does not replace the desktop, where I can program, develop, write comfortably, where things are backed up and synced with other computers, where I have reliability and openness of the operating system and complete control, what process is running.

    But I do not like to read technical books on the PC, nor on the iPod. I want to have my library with me, on a different device. I imagine having the iPod in my pocket, write on my laptop and have a tablet as a reference.

    Yes, the interface will be key. The article very well describes why tablet PCs have failed so far: they had crappy, sucking interfaces so far. It does not have to be Apple: also "Courier" from Microsoft looks as if it is going to be a winner: because the interface looks nice. Whether Apple or Microsoft will succeed is not yet clear. It is no question for me that there will be something between a smart phone and a laptop, which will stay to read journals, newspapers, books or articles.

    Divergence will occur also naturally because smart phones and tablets will be locked down pretty heavily. Nobody who minds the future will bet entirely on a platform which is closed. As for a book reader, I do not care as long as it displays PDFs and Djvu files nicely, and in high quality.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:42PM (#31552866) Homepage Journal
    He is not trying to use tablets as tablets, but trying to using them as desktop PCs or notebooks. They are different kind of devices, better or more comfortable than PCs for some tasks, worse for others. Better than say why they suck as desktop computers, would be better to list for which tasks something like a tablet is good, for which ones regular, and for which will suck. And then see if what is or was offered fit into that (regarding price, features, form factor, etc)

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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