Thursday, April 7, 2011

Slates (Tablets), not all big phones - full Win7 in the same form factor!

I noticed the other day the Asus EEE Slate. Sadly, it is priced out of my range, at $999. I don't have that kind of money to spend right now. However, one of the attractive features (depending on your viewpoint) is that it runs Windows 7 Home Premium. Yep, a fully featured slate that is a small as the other slates/tablets running Android or iOS (iPad).

Anyway, it looks like good stuff, using a SSD for the primary drive and an Intel Core i5 for processing. Battery power is less than the 'big phones', and I'm skeptical of potential disk space problems since the SSD is only 32GB.

More info is here:

It actually has a larger 12" screen, with the iPad[2] and Motorolla Xoom back at the 10.1" level.

I just don't know. I am not sure Windows full is meant for such platforms, though also not sure it isn't. The question, I suppose, is just how much power we need from our mobile computing platforms. Do we need to be able to run all existing Windows apps? Or are the simplified Android and iOS (or blackberry and Windows mobile) apps better?

Tough questions. I do know that the little 7" Android based slate/tablet I got last year (the Galaxy Tab) isn't all that great, especially since better models came out a few months later. The 7" form factor is nice and portable and easy to hold in one hand. That's nice. However, I'm not porting myself around much, so ... I think I'd rather have at least a 10.1" Tablet/slate.. I *think*. It is hard to say though, as those also weigh more.

Are these really to replace netbooks and laptops for the average Joe? Maybe. The thing is that, as we saw in the Tablet PCs of years past, it is easy to put a swiveling keyboard on the darn thing and have it be able to turn into a laptop sort of mode. That's what I'd really like to see again with the moderation generation of slates/tabs. Of course, you can buy a Bluetooth keyboard,  but it is better to have one that just pops out the back of the device, and you set it up like a laptop.

While typing on a touchscreen isn't all that bad, and 'slide' technologies like Swype make it easy and fast.. but it just isn't the same as a keyboard, nor can I approach the speed of a real keyboard. Touch input is great.. if you don't ramble on like me. For me, it only feels constraining (much like Tweets). So, give me a built in real keyboard I can pop off the back, swivel around, and have the darn thing sit up like a netbook. No reason this shouldn't have already been done.

I just don't know where the market is going anymore. There are a lot of options. It is safe to say Android will win as the new embedded platform (with Apple's iOS always lurking around though). Windows Mobile will likely fail, though that remains to be seen. They've done good things with it, and are feverishly working to improve it.

Also, in the end, will we end up fully replacing our old desktop PCs too? Those in professions like mine certainly can't, but what about the average Joe? It really isn't that bad to sit at a desk and use a computer. It has your undivided attention. You have all the room in the world to see everything. You can do powerful tasks easily. So, I suppose the PC will be here for some time to come, and maybe never go away. Though maybe it will transform into a Tablet that we dock into a one or more full size LCDs, mouse/keyboard, and it turns into a desktop when we walk in with it. After all, clearly these Tablet's aren't far from having nearly the speed of a full-size PC (at least in the case of the ASUS, the 'big phone' tablets aren't in the same league as their OSes and applications don't need that many resources).

UPDATE: Oh, I never mentioned Blackberry you say...Well, RIM has run itself into the ground, let's be honest. They just didn't keep up. They tried to maintain their own OS, and sooner or later I'm confident they'll drop it and switch to Android. It will not only save them lots of money, but give them the broad Android market. Let's hope their pride doesn't cloud the decision to switch to Android. It really is superior to the RIM OS, which just sucks IMHO. Ever since the Storm, which doesn't even begin to compare to Android based touch screen phones, I saw just how bad (and seemingly chaotic) it is. OS development is a hard thing, which is why Google used linux as their base, even acquiring Android as a company instead of trying to redo the higher level abstraction slapped on top it. It isn't something a company like RIM should even be doing, period... no way their OS lasts much longer.

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