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A Wish List For Tablets In 2013 453

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
timothy writes "For the last few years, I've been using Android tablets for various of the reasons that most casual tablet owners do: as a handy playback device for movies and music, a surprisingly decent interface for reading books, a good-enough camera for many purposes, and a communications terminal for instant messaging and video chat. I started out with a Motorola Xoom, which I still use around the house or as a music player in the car, but only started actually carrying a tablet very often when I got a Nexus 7. And while I have some high praise for the Nexus 7, its limitations are frustrating, too. I'll be more excited about a tablet when I can find one with (simultaneously) more of the features I want in one. So here's my wish list (not exhaustive) for the ideal tablet of the future, consisting only of features that are either currently available in some relevant form (such as in existing tablets), or should be in the foreseeable near future; I'll be on the lookout at CES for whatever choices come closest to this dream." Read below to see what's on Timothy's wish list.
Here's my current mild-fantasy feature list; if you know of better ways to meet these desires, or even more compelling features you'd like to see, I'd like to hear them.

Integrated GPS navigation with built-in maps, not relying on an (always brittle, often expensive) ongoing data connection, or relying on a 3rd-party app. Even cheap standalone GPS units come loaded with maps, which means putting those maps on is possible, and (except from the standpoint of the companies who sell you data by the byte) it would be a good idea. Google's maps app provides a passable workaround, in the form of cached data, so you can load up the maps you need for a given route while you're sitting at a cheap and fast broadband connection, but in practice I'd found it iffy; sometimes the navigation refuses to recognize the maps I've loaded.

So long as you've got a data plan you don't mind dipping into, and are within cellular coverage range, that's fine, but large stretches of the Western U.S. in particular could leave you reliant on paper maps or a really good memory. If Garmin and company can put 6 million points of interest on pocket-sized GPS devices, and has been doing so for the last decade, shouldn't tablet makers do the same? (Not that freshly updated maps with handy chunks of crowd-sourced data are a bad thing; they just shouldn't be the only option. Graceful failure is reason enough to include a basic map set by default.)

(Two related pipe-dreams: 1) Future integration, too, with Gallileo and Beidou — the EU and Chinese equivalents to the U.S. made GPS constellation, and 2) integration with Open Street Maps. Every tablet should be a mapping tool, not just a map reader.)

A full sized USB port. Two of them, even better, but I'd settle for one. USB keys are the easiest way to transmit a certain size of file, close range, in particular when that's already the medium the file occupies. Things like Dropbox help, but don't pass the Mom test (at least in my family), and require extra steps if the document / podcast / video clip is right there in your pocket, just in an unusable form. The other reason I want a full-size USB port is that as impressive it is to have a tiny computer and display in a pocketable device, there is not yet a more efficient way for a sitting person to enter text than a keyboard, and tiny tablet-focused portable keyboards are a weak tool of convenience rather than actually *good,* generally. For light travel, sure. But I'd like to pop to the coffee shop to work for a while with a 1-pound tablet and a real keyboard. Workaround: There are Bluetooth keyboards, but the only true way to get a full-size USB ports for most tablets is by picking up a dongle from Amazon or Deal Extreme, but that's both an extra part to break or lose, and a hassle that it would be nice to skip.

A better "swiping" keyboard. Since I can't always carry a Model M keyboard, I want a keyboard as good as the Swype version that came with my aging but once high-end Samsung phone (Galaxy S). I've tried some Swype versions intended for tablets, but they made the mistake of making the control surface bigger (I suspect to "take advantage of all that space") rather than kept it sensibly small and fast. Being able to zip my finger around quickly is exactly why the one on the phone has totally changed my view of touch keyboards. The swiping keyboard that came with the newest versions of Android is a mixed bag: it's welcome, but at least in my experience so far suffers worse accuracy than does Swype. (On the other hand, the actual included vocabulary seems broader; I've had to customize the dictionary much less often.)

Daylight readable screen of some kind. Pixel Qi is the obvious one right now, but there's also one from Mirasol that I've seen demoed, but which seems unlikely (sorry) to see the light of day. Except for the impressive use of the same technology in the OLPC project's XO kid-centric laptops, Pixel Qi's screens have been mostly going into military and industrial displays, though, rather than into consumer tablets. There's a market waiting for daylight readable color screens!

Hardware toggles for cameras and all wireless capabilities. That is, anything which could betray privacy should be labeled and defeatable. Among other good reasons for this, it might make some devices more acceptable in workplaces with restrictive policies on personal technology. At the last CES, I saw a few Chinese Android tablets that had what looked from their icons like external Wi-Fi toggle switches, but wasn't able to quite confirm that with the vendors. Not every camera-equipped, Wi-Fi-equipped laptop has a physical toggle for either or both of these, but some do, and I'd pay a few more dollars for the capability.

HDMI out: This is common enough on recent tablets, but mostly in the form of a tiny mini-HDMI port. There are a few exceptions, but I'd like to see more. Just as with USB, I'd rather a slightly chunkier case if it means not needing a fistful of finicky cables and adapters. Being able to plug a tablet conveniently into any HDMI-equipped display would be handy; it's more computer than most of us had at all just a few years ago.

Decent in-built stereo recorder: Many tablets (and practically all smartphones as well as many feature phones) include a voice memo feature; that's handy, but it's a shame to waste the capabilities of the rest of the device on just that. Surprisingly good stereo recorders — included ones marketed as "business recorders," but severely overqualified — start at less than $100, and typical tablets have far more horsepower, not to mention a more flexible control surface for apps to control audio recording. In the iWorld, there are dozens of stereo input devices, as well as DI boxes for electric instruments, but not even Apple's devices come with a Just-Hit-Record stereo recording mic, which is too bad. Can you recommend any Android tablets with good built-in stereo mics, or third-party add-ons?

Bright LED light built in: This one, at least, is now the rule to which there are exceptions, rather than the other way 'round. It shows that sometimes the features-list game goes the right direction.

Alternative OS support. This isn't something I expect tablet makers to trumpet; they generally want you to run their choice of OS (whether the underlying tablet is from Apple, Microsoft, or the vast Google/Android conspiracy). But they don't have to; they just have to not make it impossible for others to do the work for them. In the last few months alone we've seen Linux (both Ubuntu for ARM and KDE Plasma Active) ported to the Nexus 7, and the Cyanogenmod developers have for years been making many handset and tablet makers' upgrade abilities look just plain silly. It's not just for novelty, either: right now, I'd like to be able to offload footage from my video camera to a tablet for uploading, which would mean I could stop carrying a laptop around quite so often. If I risk bricking my tablet by installing one of those Linux varieties, that might just be a practical option.

For now, don't think I'm ungrateful: I'm pleased and constantly amazed by how much has already been squeezed into a computer that takes less space than a trade paperback, and it's true that space trade-offs make it hard to squeeze in all the full-size ports I'd prefer. But most of these are features that exist in some form, and don't require anything to spring from the forehead of the Media Lab. I hope that by this time next year it'll be a smaller list of features I'm still looking for.
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A Wish List For Tablets In 2013

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 31, 2012 @05:45PM (#42436283)

    Seriously. It sounds like you're after the swiss army knife of tablets and no one tablet is *ever* going to meet all those features, because the combination you've chosen won't appeal to the mainstream. Tablet manufacturers are going to design their hardware to sell the most units - not to fulfill your fantasy feature wishlist.

    Maybe you should drop Bunnie Huang a note - get him to tweak one of his hacker laptop builds. Or get a beagleboard, a plastic case, a touchscreen of your choice and go to town with all the accessories you want.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rtfa-troll (1340807)

      Just guessing from the audience; the last thing any of us here need is another thing with a keyboard to join the five or so surrounding us. Tablets are for uses like a) in confined spaces like a plane seat and b) when you don't want to pick up something heavy c) when consuming media in bed / on the couch etc. e) when walking around. In none of those situations is a laptop a solution and adding a keyboard to a tablet would just show the designer had no idea what his product was for.

      These aren't the best

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:52PM (#42436883) Homepage Journal

      It sounds like you're after the swiss army knife of tablets and no one tablet is *ever* going to meet all those features, because the combination you've chosen won't appeal to the mainstream.

      There are lots of products available on the market that do not "appeal to the mainstream".

      I can buy a 14-hole chromatic harmonica. A pair of ostrich-skin boots. A copy of Nabokov's lectures on literature. A recumbent bicycle.

      Not all cars are dark-blue Camrys. There are tiny little Smart cars and behemoth Nissan Armadas. In yellow.

      There's no reason every single product in the consumer electronics category has to appeal to every single consumer. We don't have to allow the tech industry to be lazy and greedy. They need us more than we need them.

      • Nissan Armadas. In yellow.

        I did not want to know that!

      • by rwa2 (4391) * on Monday December 31, 2012 @08:55PM (#42437745) Homepage Journal

        I'm pretty happy with my getup, even though it's quite ancient now in device years:

        Viewsonic G-Tablet running Vegan-Tab (2.3 Gingerbread-based). It has a micro-SD slot in addition to 16GB of internal memory. It has a full-size USB port. I use it with one of these cheap USB keyboard cases to get physical buttons:
        http://www.amazon.com/Synthetic-Leather-Keyboard-Stylus-Black/dp/B004JQN670/ref=sr_1_2 [amazon.com]
        I always win at SketchIt / Pictionary with this. Also, I can use it as an extended battery pack to charge my cell phone.

        Yes, the TFT screen is crap, but it doesn't really bother me anymore, the keyboard case really helps keep it propped up at the right angle.
        I tried the TeamDRH (DirtyResetHole) 4.1 ROM at some point, and while it was awesome, the G-Tablet didn't really have enough RAM (512MB) to multitask well with Android 4.1. But all the apps work fine and fast under Vegan-Tab.

        I think the front-facing camera has an LED that turns on when it's active. But there's always masking tape if you want a physical enable/disable button. For the other wireless functions, I'm happy enough with the PowerControl widget to enable / disable various wifi / phone radio features.

        Stereo mics are overrated. Professional studios use one mic per audio source, and mix sources into multiple channels later. Get dedicated recording devices (several tablets recording a single channel each to mix later, if you must). If you're filming VR gonzo porn or something, then you minus while spring for some device that can record in binocular 3D vision with stereo audio to give you the full immersion. For anything less, just deal with having one camera and one mic :P

        The ViewSonic G-Tablet has an HDMI-out converter dongle, but I haven't bought it. The 10" screen is big enough to enjoy Netflix while I'm sitting on the John.

        Finally, I use the LED "flashlight" on my phone (an HTC myTouch 4G Slide running CyanogenMOD 9.1 / Android 4.1-based). I don't really see the need to have one on my Tablet as well. I also have one of these cheap keychain LEDs which actually works pretty nicely and doesn't die like the plastic variety:
        http://www.amazon.com/Streamlight-73001-Miniature-Keychain-Flashlight/dp/B0011UIPIW/ref=sr_1_1 [amazon.com]

        I'm a bit pissed that both Vegan-Tab and CyanogenMOD 9.1 don't have the loopback module compiled in, so I could run the "Linux Installer" and chroot into a full Debian distro from Android. This would give me enough options to make me happy using a tablet for "real" work. It was great on my older myTouch 3G Slide running CyanogenMOD 7.1, which did have the loopback device in the kernel.

        Finally, for mapping, the Google Maps caching is good enough. We just came back from a drive through the Western US, and we simply mapped from town to town., and did the "Download to SD" thing for a few of the national parks that we knew we'd be spending a lot of time wandering around in. Not perfect (particularly since you can't really swap between map types while disconnected... hopefully Google will fix this sometime). But it was good enough. I remember driving across the country 10 years ago with a full US Garmin Street Maps on a laptop. It was cool, but not that cool compared to the awesome array of data that's available now. Back in the PalmOS days, I also would load tons of street vectors from the Mapopolis service, but that was a pain since you had to download county by county. I think at this point, the easiest thing to do would be to just pester Google to add a few more offline features and call it a day... or just spend 5 minutes preloading the details of your trip.

        So call me a luddite, maybe... but I'm pretty happy with my "old" tech ;)

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Sounds rather like he wants a netbook with GPS and HDMI.

  • Perfect List (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 31, 2012 @05:50PM (#42436313)

    ...for building a tablet that nobody will buy.

    • by russotto (537200)
      Yes, this is the Homer of tablets.
    • by Teun (17872)
      Let's be realistic, such a tablet would cost a little more but it should hardly be an outrageous amount, maybe 10-15 $, €, whatever.
      Put it next to the stripped down version and see what sells, speaking for myself and the people around me we'd play safe and get the complete package!
  • Its a pretty decent list of features. I'll just add to make sure you have at least 10 hours of battery use, while actually USING the device.

    • And I'd like a Pony.

      10 hours of battery life with the "Timothy Tablet' would need several Nobel Prize winning breakthroughs in battery technology and thermal management.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mobets (101759)

        With the physical switches and full sized USB and HDMI ports he is asking for, the case will need to be thicker. This should make plenty of room for a battery two or three times bigger. It doesn't sound like weight is an issue for him. The software requests seem reasonable.

      • by grim4593 (947789)
        It would be feasible if the tablet was thick enough to house full sized USB and HDMI ports as the OP wants.
      • Oh, nonsense. Keep up with advances in battery tech. Its basically in the bag now.

  • One change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imsabbel (611519) on Monday December 31, 2012 @05:54PM (#42436347)

    Drop those full size USB ports, and add a (micro) SD card slot.

    It is totally ridiculous that all NEXUS devices are missing that one, even the new Nexus 10.I want to watch movies in a plane, or review my pictures away from my PC (where a 2560x1600 screen really would help). So fuck the cloud and fuck the tiered pricing system that askes for $100 more for adding $20 worth of flash - while STILL limiting the total capacity to amounts that are ridiculously low for a device of that cost.

    Full sized USB I can understand for missing : Those plugs are huge. They would literally be the thickest thing in the tablet.

    • by mea_culpa (145339)

      Are tablets really lacking internal space that there is no room for full sized SDCard readers and USB ports?
      This has been a long standing gripe I've had with my iPad over the years.
      Why can't there be removable panel on the back with access to SODIMMs that can upgrade the RAM and a bank of SDCard slots to upgrade the storage?
      Single full-sized USB ports aren't tall enough to make a tablet thicker either. Granted the stupid tapered edges would have to go, but I say good riddance.
      My iPad is so useless now. Ever

      • My iPad Mini is 5mm thick. Take in to account the screen glass and there's space is tight. The only place you could even try to have a micro SD card slot is the top or bottom edges since the screen is so close to the sides.

        • Seriously? You went with 'they cant fit it in'? These guys constantly yammer on about how they are advancing the art of manufacturing devices, and yet they cant figure out an elegant way to let people use SD cards?
          • If the size of the sd card slot is larger than the space they have in the device no amount of manufacturing advancements will make it possible to put the two together.

    • Drop those full size USB ports, and add a (micro) SD card slot.

      I have used full sized usb on a tablet it was the buisness [Toshiba Thrive has one]. Everything I own that plugs into my computer uses Full Sized USB...I'd love the same functionality on my tablet...As well as Several SD card slots..The dimensions that matter are already fixed, 7" [The iPad mini is too big] how thin it is does not matter so much [within reason]. SD and Full sized USB are not mutually exclusive.

    • by pjr.cc (760528)

      i had the same thought... and yes i really do hate the lack of sd card on nexus devices (though for other reasons)... however, for media a better choice is actually a usb otg adaptor - you can generally get faster, cheaper and larger storage on the end of a usb stick then you will in a microsd card and while a bit larger, they're not inconveniently so (imho)...

      Im loving my nexus 10, i really wasnt expecting to cause the reviews have been iffy at best, but it really is (to me) exactly what i've wanted in a t

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My Acer Iconia Tab A700 almost fits this description.

      It doesn't have a full sized USB port, but it does come with a micro to full-sized USB adapter, which is a reasonable compromise as far as I'm concerned. The USB port supports every USB device I've tried, including keyboard and storage devices ranging from thumb drives up to a 1TB portable hard drive.

      It has a micro SD card slot.

      It has (micro) HDMI out.

      Has built-in GPS, though no offline maps. That would be nice, I agree.

      I don't know why this thing hasn'

    • Re:One change (Score:4, Insightful)

      by spire3661 (1038968) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:23PM (#42436613) Journal
      I too am completely PISSED at the ongoing effort by manufacturers to steer us into the cloud by eliminating convenient local storage. Its ridiculously obvious.
      • Re:One change (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:35PM (#42437245)
        As much as they're derided here on Slashdot, every Windows tablet comes with at least one full size USB port, some form of video out (either full hdmi, mini display port, or micro hdmi), and only one model doesn't come with an SD card slot. These tablets are coming from Asus, Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, Dell, Acer, HP, Fujitsu, Toshiba, and Microsoft.

        Here's a pretty comprehensive list of the current offerings with sortable specs: https://skydrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=DA410C7F7E038D!9136&app=Excel [live.com]
    • Bingo, we have a winner. I got a Nexus 7 for Christmas, and it's tres cool, but the wife got me the 16MB version, so a microSD slot would be welcome.
      BTW, I don't even understand the FA's USB gripe; who even uses full size USB anymore? It's pretty much either micro or mini USB these days. But more importantly, the other end of the cable is standardized, so I don't get what difference it makes.
      • Full size is quite handy, since everything fits just the same as with your laptop desktop netbook and nas.
        It's a gateway port to be honest. Which you already have devices for. Think the first cable you tend to buy is micro usb (otg) to full size usb port cable. but that port gets too much stress as it is. Bluetooth is possibly a good alternative to the usb port. I would love a usb hub with bluetooth so i could just pair the hub and not need any cable hanging off my tablet and no port to break.

        My tablet ha

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      You can actually use SD cards and USB flash drives with Nexus devices, via an OTG cable, for media storage: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.homeysoft.nexususb.importer&hl=en [google.com]

      No root required, just the slightly daft cable but at least it won't get in the way in landscape mode on the plane. But yes, lack of an internal SD card slot is very annoying, the only major flaw in an otherwise excellent device.

  • Few years?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FatAlb3rt (533682) on Monday December 31, 2012 @05:55PM (#42436351) Homepage
    For the last few years, I've been using Android tablets ... I started out with a Motorola Xoom

    How can you have been using something "for the last few years" when it's been out less than 2 [wikipedia.org]?
  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Monday December 31, 2012 @05:57PM (#42436367)
    Using an iPad I don't need any of the features above, HDMI USB et al.

    --
    and they are wondering if this is a joke of some kind
    • by Microlith (54737)

      s/doesn't need/I have been convinced it doesn't need/

      Of course, the simple fact that the iPad is trapped in the walled garden instantly rules it out for me.

      • the simple fact that the iPad is trapped in the walled garden instantly rules it out for me.

        You can leave at any time by jailbreaking.

        The idea that the "walled garden" is stopping you when anyone can step over the hedges was, is and always shall be laughable.

        What it really means is that you have some kind of tragic flaw where you cannot ignore what company makes things, and just buy the device that would in fact work best for your needs.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          You can leave at any time by jailbreaking.

          No you can't. Sometimes there's a delay between when a particular combination of device+PhoneOS is released and the coresponding hack. Plus once you've jailbroken, you are frozen on that release of the OS. You can't update because you'll be unjailbroken again. There might not be a suitable re-jailbreak yet. The world starts to pass you buy as new apps are released that don't support your phone anymore.

          What you are advocating doesn't fit in well with the expectations of the platform or it's developers.

          Plus,

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You can already have stand-alone good GPS navigation without data connections. I have been using that for a while on my Android Galaxy S2 phone.
    TomTom. Just pick the map and use it. No online connection needed, it stays in your card and works even if fully firewalled or data-less.

    I also have an updated TomTom standalone unit and it uses exactly the same map version, always updated. So there you go, get an Android tablet and install TomTom 1.1.1+, then navigate.

    Disclaimer: I live in TomTom's country but don'

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:03PM (#42436415)

    This is the most annoying feature missing on virtually all tablets...

    Tablets are marketed as the "use everywhere, especially in the living room" computer, but still there's no infrared sender in most of them. And if there is, they are lousy and don't reach over two meters (Yes, Sony, i'm talking to you!)

    integrate a good IR diode and make an app capable of Pronto definitions - instand perfect Remote, and even standalone a reason to buy a tablet...

  • Bizarro World (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Swampash (1131503) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:05PM (#42436429)

    Seriously. This post is like a snapshot of an alternate universe where the iPad never happened.

  • by gmuslera (3436)
    Good keyboard/support (there are more than a few convertibles that could do the work), ready to install another OS (webos, plasma active, ubuntu, mer or a few others are not explored enough alternatives), open in general (no secret sauce to do your own drivers or write your own code to work with the hardware), "good" hardware in general (long battery life, big capacity, expandable, good screen and camera), and cheap. If is for asking, why not everything?
  • by high_rolla (1068540) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:12PM (#42436499) Homepage

    I often like to think about these things in terms of activities or outcomes rather than features. The problem with thinking in terms of features is that you lock yourself into a specific implementation (which is often sub optimal).

    So instead of saying "I need HDMI" I would instead say "I need a dead simple way to have my screen show up on any external screen."
    Now HDMI may in fact be the answer but maybe there is a better way. For instance AppleTV works very nicely for me with all my devices to the TV. I'm not saying we should all install AppleTV's just observing that a wireless solution could be very convenient too. We should explore alternatives rather than just diving into the immediately obvious solution.

    • For instance AppleTV works very nicely for me with all my devices to the TV

      The trouble with Apple products is the "just fail" when mixed with any technology other than their own "massively overpriced". None of it uses industry standards, which they think they can just ignore. The reality is there other solutions like uPnP/DNLA, but I wired solution gets rid of the middle man. The reality is a $1 cable works better than *ANY* Apple solution.

    • Ok hold on cowboy. Wired and wireless are NOT directly interchangable. Airplay will never be as robust as a physical HDMI cable. It requires logins and setup and networking etc. Full disclosure: I have 3 Apple TVs fed from a 2011 mac mini using ipads and iphones and it STILL doesnt work all that well as a whole. Airplay works decent enough, but i would NEVER rely on it alone and ignore the robustness wired brings. I even have the mac mini and the appleTVs and all the iDevices on their own VLAN and it still
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      I'm surprised I have not read more about Mirrolink. It is basically VNC for phones and tablets, and allows the receiver to send back touch inputs. Its main use seems to be for connecting phones to car in-dash screens and allowing the user to interact with sat-nav and media player apps. The only down-side seems to be that the frame rate is reduced compared to a native display.

  • Bigger size... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by knisa (209732) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:12PM (#42436501)

    I'd like to see a decent tablet with around a 14" screen. Something that would make reviewing documentation (or sheet music) intended for Letter/A4 sized printouts possible without shrinking it to fit a diminutive screen.

  • My wish-list tablet would have an x86 CPU capable of running off-the-shelf visual-arts software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Manga Studio, and Painter. Win7, Win8, OS X... whatever. Give me wifi and Dropbox, and I'm all set for getting data on/off it. Don't bother with a keyboard; if I wanted to type I'd use a laptop. But give me a pressure-sensitive stylus (Wacom or UC-Logic digitizer), and a few buttons on the frame which can be programmed to simulate keypresses like Ctrl-Z or Alt. Give it a 14" 4

    • Re:Art tablet (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Zero_DgZ (1047348) on Monday December 31, 2012 @09:22PM (#42437961)

      This exists. Thinkpad X series tablets. End of discussion. Toshiba/Acer/Asus/Panasonic/Everybody/Their Dog also makes some version, or did in the past.

      Mine has a Wacom Stylus, pressure sensitive, multiple buttons, actual keyboard, close(r) to 4:3 aspect ratio, (it's actually 16:10; 16:12 = 4:3), asinine long battery life, covered in USB ports, available with massive hard drive/RAM amounts, comes with a docking station, runs regular old Windows. (Also runs later versions of Ubuntu pretty good.) Mine is new enough to have a finger-touchable screen as well as the Wacom stylus. Physically punching the OK button on error dialogs is an experience that cannot be beat.

      Used ones can be had with 4:3 screens, if you want to troll eBay for one. They're cheaper, too.

  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:14PM (#42436521)
    For everyone to shut up about tablets. Just buy the tablet you like and don't brag, slam and belittle the tablet market.
  • by Picass0 (147474) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:16PM (#42436535) Homepage Journal

    The reason you want a full sized USB jack demonstrats where the jump drive market is behind the times. I'd like to see guys like Kingston start putting micro-USB connectors on jump drives.

    • by phizi0n (1237812)

      Then you would need a dongle to plug it into most everything that isn't a portable device and it would be easier to damage to the port. Micro usb is okay for charging but I really don't want to plug anything into it a portable device's micro usb port because it's likely to get snagged accidentally thus putting pressure on the port. Full sized ports are more rugged.

  • by AK Marc (707885)

    Google's maps app provides a passable workaround, in the form of cached data, so you can load up the maps you need for a given route while you're sitting at a cheap and fast broadband connection, but in practice I'd found it iffy; sometimes the navigation refuses to recognize the maps I've loaded

    I've found that if I pre-cache maps, I always end up caching only the layers I don't need, and I zoom in and out to layers that aren't cached.

    My complaint is that I like marking things up. I want to draw thing on documents. And not an overlaid JPG, but OCR that is actual object recognition, in addition to character, not just word recognition. Shape recognition, connector recognition, and native integration into existing document formats. Personally, I'd like to be able to sketch something and export it

    • by hazem (472289)

      I've been using NavFree USA on my Nexus and it seems like a decent program. I don't know why he has a problem with 3rd party programs.

      With this one, you download entire maps for entire states. It even seems to do a nice job with navigation. The only downside that I can see so far is that it's not aware of stores and such. It can navigate from here to 3rd & Main, but it doesn't know where Fry's is.

      At work, I have a Lenovo "convertible" laptop that has a stylus for the touch-screen (finger works too).

  • Meh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:21PM (#42436587) Homepage

    I'm not too thrilled with most of these ideas. Full-sized USB? That would require it to be awfully thick. I could see some kind of micro-usb port, and if you want you can use and adapter, but I don't mind going over wifi if I need to tranfer data. HDMI? I don't really care. If I want something on my TV, I'm fine with having a set-top box. Stereo recording? I mean... I have a microphone on my tablet. I'm not sure the value in recording in stereo when the two mics are right next to each other, but maybe I'm just ignorant there.

    Mostly, I'd like to see more open platforms for phones and tablets. The fact that I can't just install whatever software I want grates on me a little. I'd like to be able to buy a piece of hardware based on its value, and then install the OS and apps based on their value, instead of buying into a unified platform and being stuck. Though, I can also see the value in having a unified platform. Apple provides great products across the board largely because they're able to control the whole stack. But it'd be nice if I could easily install the latest stock Android on my iPad to check it out, and continue using it if I prefer it.

  • by metrometro (1092237) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:23PM (#42436605)

    [specific computing need] without relying on a 3rd-party app.

    Do you want a computer or an appliance? If you want a computer, install some of that pesky "3rd-party" software and move on.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      The problem as I see it is a matter of integration. For instance, sure there are video communicator apps that use the front facing camera; have been for some time, but none of them have the same degree of integration as the phone app. They are clumsy to use, not something mother-in-law could figure out.

  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintiumNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:24PM (#42436617)

    This article reminds me of the days I would build machines for people that constantly "wanted more". They wanted to be able to stuff every drive they ever owned into it. Then they wanted to have their scanner, printer, phone, 5.25 and 3.5 floppy, and cd player/recoreder attached. Then they wanted the best graphics card for playing games, looking at pictures, watching movies, editing pictures, creating 3d graphis for games, and encoding movies. They wanted the best sound card for games, listening to music, editing music, creating music (which of course meant they needed a way to hook up another slew of midi devices). Then they wanted a web server on it. Then they wanted a database server on it. Then they needed a network card, then two, then bonded interfaces. Ah, fun times.

  • Two apps onscreen at once. You know, like they demo on the Samsung tablets? I want Android to do that on any device. I don't care how fast your software can task switch. I frequently need to pull two apps up side-by-side and compare stuff. Having one completely disappear off the screen makes a smartphone or tablet useless for such things. I don't need a full windowing GUI; two at a time is sufficient.

    Cases with built-in solar cells. I want to be able to lay it on my desk (upside down is fine) or on
  • 7 inch tablets... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Goth Biker Babe (311502) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:43PM (#42436805) Homepage Journal

    The larger tablets have been too big for me. I waited until the 7/8 inch ones came out. I played with a Google Nexus 7 for a while but decided for my use cases the iPad Mini would be more suitable. Using your wish-list...

    1) Tomtom app for iPad - Doesn't need a network connection.

    2) Open Streetmap clients are out there. An update tool is just software.

    3) Why the hell do you want a full size USB. They're *HUGE*. The iPad Mini is only about 5 mm thick in total. It has lightning which is a USB host. I would like Apple to support more devices on it. SD card and USB storage devices have limited support.

    4) I love the thumb keyboard you get by 'splitting' the keyboard. On the Mini it works really well with everything easily accessible. I would imaging its a bit big on a full sized iPad. I have a bluetooth apple keyboard for various uses and with the iPad it works really well. Its a bit bigger than you want to carry around normally but quite light. (http://www.cyberspice.org.uk/blog/2012/12/29/apple-bluetooth-keyboard-and-ipad/)

    5) Since I live in Northern Europe. I've not really had a chance to use it outside in daylight :-D

    6) "Hardware" toggles aren't really physical switches in the connection. They're still just switches that toggle GPIOs. Easily over-ridden in software if you want to. Having the slide switch on the iPad more configurable would be nice.

    7) HDMI connector? Wires, how retro! Again the lightning connector supports this functionality via an adapter. Like the USB connector an HDMI connector is quite large and not everyone will want one. The current use of adapters on both IOS and Android tablets is a better solution. However I use Airplay via an AppleTV to watch movies and play games on my TV. Works nicely with Netflix, iTunes, and BBC iPlayer.

    8) Stereo record is another function that not everyone needs so why build it in if you don't need it. Android tablets with a USB host should be able to support it via a dongle.

    9) The bright LED is something missing from the iPad Mini. The iPhone has it but not the iPad Mini.

    10) To be honest I'm not worried about supporting multiple OSes. If I wanted that I would have a laptop (which I do). The iPad is something I can carry in my handbag and pull out when I need a web browser, e-mail, to SSH in to something or what ever...

    A lot of the wish list is possible now with at least one of the available tablet types. The requirement for things like full sized sockets and the like kind of defeats the whole purpose of the small, light, thin, tablet and is missing the point.

    • by tepples (727027)

      lightning

      Now you have to include the price of all the dongles in the total cost of ownership, and you can't use more than one at the same time except for the $99 Wi-Fi-to-HDMI adapter (Apple TV) that only works with Apple products.

      To be honest I'm not worried about supporting multiple OSes. If I wanted that I would have a laptop (which I do).

      The problem here is that ASUS and Acer just announced that they stopped making laptops with a 10 inch screen as of today.

      The requirement for things like full sized sockets and the like kind of defeats the whole purpose of the small, light, thin, tablet and is missing the point.

      What if you don't care so much about thin?

  • "Mine broke right after I started using it!" --Moses
  • Onboard GPS maps (Score:4, Informative)

    by subreality (157447) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:48PM (#42436847)

    You can have it today. Navfree or Osmand if you want the free route; Sygic has a paid app; I'm sure there are others.

    Of course you'll lose out on all the things that make Google maps nifty: good search, traffic, rich POI data, etc, but the basic functionality works fine offline.

  • My tablet wishes are:

    1) A browser that could keep up. If that can't be done, then one that responds to me WHILE IT'S RENDERING THE PAGE AND NOT WHEN IT'S DONE. Seriously. The browser does NOT matter. I do. If I change my mind, it can goram well stop what it's doing and say, "So sorry sir, let me drop this silly process and go do what you want done now." It's just a machine, after all.

    2) A tablet that actually selects the item where my finger hit. My Samsung phone with much smaller type and links can do this

  • Wish list:

    A real keyboard.

  • I don't understand the obsession with needing to build in maps when there are SO many great third party applications that provide a variety of offline maps.

    Sure GPS makers have for years been putting out devices with maps and built in waypoints. Guess what? Those devices generally kind of suck, I've had a number of them. In fact the funny thing is that by far, I would rather use the software each of those GPS device makers sell on a smartphone, because then I get the thing they do best (mapping and navig

  • by silverhalide (584408) on Monday December 31, 2012 @06:55PM (#42436929)

    While some "neat to have" features, you cobbled together your feature list without considering the tradeoffs they bring. All of these features have been considered by product managers and cut for good reason.

    Since you haven't owned an iPad, I'm guessing you're more price sensitive. Most of your features will add cost, size, reduce battery life, and will give you little daily benefit.

    - Full-sized USB ports - tablet is too thick, heavy and added cost. Also, to support devices like USB sticks, you have to add USB Host support to the device, which requires adding a 5V power supply output to the device, most expensive/power hungry USB host silicon/IP, and a large USB host driver stack that requires lots of software maintenance.
    - Full-sized HDMI connector - added cost and thickness.
    - Stereo Mics - nobody cares, added cost, and they don't work well in a thin form factor - generally for field recording you want cardioid-type mics which are larger, but more directional.
    - Hardware radio toggles - nobody cares, added cost, confusion (which switch does what by feel?!) and the functionality is already deployable through corporate policies on some ecosystems.
    - Offline maps - There are plenty of offline GPS apps available for existing ecosystems - TomTom, NavFree, and Garmin come to mind without even searching. This feature is best left to companies who know what they are doing in this space. If it's standard, you have to have more storage standard on your device which raises cost. Whatever you deploy won't be nearly as good as Google Maps anyway and will be useless in a few years once the data goes stale and you are too lazy to do the update process.
    - Pixel Qi or whatever screen tech du jour - These will come naturally once they are better, cheaper, more manufacturable, and lower power than the existing crop of LCD displays. The current crop of screens, at least on the high end devices like iPad are readable enough in full sunlight so it's not a big pain point.
    - Alternative OS support - Who cares? Tablets are not computers. Apple was the first company to understand this and this is why the iPad was so devastatingly successful. They are devices that perform functions. Use a computer if you need something that's flexible and programmable. Adding alternative OS support adds MILLIONS in software support costs, and you're not going to sell that many more tablets as a result.

  • OP has some excellent suggestions. Probably the best one is offline maps for gps. Tablets/smartphones will never be true navigation tools until this becomes available.

    And no, suggesting he buy a laptop instead is not helpful. Tablets are supposed to be the new laptop, we keep hearing. Personally, I have no intention of owning Yet Another Device [TM]. When I buy a tablet, it will be because I can stop using one of my other devices. Not before.

    My own list:

    What He Said. Plus:

    Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premi

  • by Pontiac (135778) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:13PM (#42437081) Homepage

    I have 4 tablets at home and not one uses a standard mini or micro USB to charge the damn thing.

    Xoom has a Mini usb port but won't charge from it. all the others have proprietary cables.

    • by bfandreas (603438)
      A lot of tablets charge at 15V while USB only supplies 5V.

      Those tablets need 15V to charge. Here's what ASUS did:
      They have a charger/USB cable and a charger that has a USB socket in it. Those silly buggers crossed a couple of wires in their USB cable. If they are crossed, the charger will supply 15V. If they aren't, then it will supply 5V. But you sure can't connet the ASUS tablet to an USB port on your PC and expect it to charge from that.

      The XOOM is at least a bit more honest in that. And it has a de
  • If we're on the topic of wishlist requests for tablets, I think it would be rather cool to have a tablet (or phone for that matter) with an RF and IR transmitter.

    My Harmony One remote control is quite awesome, but there are times when I'd be thrilled if I could control my entertainment system with my phone or tablet instead.

    And I'm not talking about Smart Glass or Apple TV. I'm talking about actually changing inputs, master volume, radio stations, pressing pause on the DVD player, etc. There are some of us

  • by Chas (5144) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:57AM (#42439249) Homepage Journal

    That the owners stop trying to replace productivity stations like desktops and workstations with tablets.

    While based on similar-to-identical hardware, their usage and productivity profiles are COMPLETELY different.

    Windows 8 is one of the bastardized expressions of this desire to "unify" a productivity device (laptop/workstation) with a dedicated media consumption device (a tablet).

    Is it REALLY all that surprising that the results suck so badly?

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