So I have had my first experiences with a Tablet PC the last couple of days, and here are my impressions thus far.
We have the Viewsonic VT1100 on display. I have been playing with it whenever I can.
Windows XP Tablet Edition works just like XP, but with a few extra features (handwriting recognition being prime among them, as well as a specialised sticky note app and a journal app). I have successfully installed a number of different apps on it.
The handwriting recognition is fantastic. In fact I have had much better luck with the tablet than I have had with Ink. Of course that is probably because with the Tablet I am writing right on the screen, which is a helluvalot easier than writing on a Wacom Graphire and looking at the screen, I think anyway.
While this machine (and most other tablet pcs) lacks and optical drive, it does have a 20GB internal HD, WiFi (AirPort) on board, as well as a CardBus slot, a CF Slot, USB, FireWire, a Mini VGA port, audio in and out.
Bottom line: For a PC, this is one cool little machine. I hope that Apple makes one. I also hope that they make it affordable, or at least on par with the PC competitors (the viewsonic runss 3300$). I can seriously see this as being the next big wave in portable computing, in fact this is probably the first big step towards the DataPads you see on Star Trek and other SciFi shows.
I want one. In a bad way. If Apple doesn't make one I may have to buy one from a PC manufacturer. My iBook is good and all, but nothing is portable like this is portable, except perhaps a palm.
What do you guys think of them, or think of the concept? Do you think that Apple will be able to bring one out and have it compete? OS X is certainly primed, what with Ink built in already. They will just have to implement an input app, because the way Ink works now wouldn't work so well for a Tablet I dont think.
I have always thought that tablets were the future. Gibson called it a "deck" in the more and more farseeing "Neuromancer".
He coined cyberspace in that novel and what's amazing he was not in any way involved with computers when he wrote it. So many of the things we take for granted he envisioned in that seminal cyberpunk work.
Apple almost got there with Newton but too early and too small and too limited in power.
I do indeed believe Apple will engage in a tablet at a some point but X needs a light version with less video overhead. ( hey less eye candy might get me interested too )
Then we can take our deck warchalking as we surf cyberspace in the park.
BTW anyone heard from TransMeta lately? - their chip should be a natural for this.
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Thanks for your comments. I wonder about the practicality of a tablet in the current incarnation. I mean, these machines have signicant weight (compared to a physical notepad/paper). Can you easily hold it in your hand and write with the other for reasonable periods of time or does it really require you to put it on table or desk?
I think its would be technically trivial for Apple to release a tablet (just add a rotatable hingle and a touch sensitive screen). I think they are waiting to see how the market reacts to the current machines and I don't blame them. Apple blazed the trail with the Newton and was burned. The iPod is the opposite. It head and shoulders about any mp3 player in usability and utility. It commands it's premium price. That's the way it should be.
That said, I don't think I'd buy a tablet, at least not yet. My handwriting is so bad that I can't read it myself.... and I can type as fast as I need to (even only using 3-4 digits).
Transmeta is currently hemmoraging money, or at least they were the last time I read about them. Their only market right now is in Asia, where the notebook design ethic is "Smaller is better", as opposed to the current north american mantra "Bigger is freaking fantastic!"
Last report I read has transmeta shopping their processors around for Tablets but not meeting with a lot of luck, at least in our markets.
Their processors are cool, but not a lot of companies seem to think so. While they are crazy low power and low heat, the north american markets demand more power from a Windows PC than a Crusoe can provide.
The Appeal of a tablet? not so much for a consumer, but think of a business man or a student. Personally i think That Toshiba has the best idea (see the Portege 3500) with the screen flipping up to reveal a keyboard, as well as flipping back over into a tablet. (check out the Flash Tour to see what I am talking about).
So, when in a meeting or in a class, you have the machine in tablet mode, quickly jotting down notes and scrawling out graphs and whatnot. Then after the meeting/class, you flip it up into keyboard mode and type out your report/essay.
Write a letter in keyboard mode. Jot down a message when you are on the phone.
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by used to be jwoodget: My handwriting is so bad that I can't read it myself.... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Believe it or not, I am the same way, but the only mistake the machine at work has made thus far is mistaking an "e" for an "a" when I wrote "hello", resulting in "hallo". I have been toying with this thing every chance I get too, so that is a pretty good track record so far.
I suppose I would use one if it was 100% Mac compatible (or made by Apple) had WiFi, was light-weight, had good battery life and had all the functionality of a Blackberry, PDA and a sleek version of OS X.
Otherwise...these "tablet" things are worthless.
Basically, make the thing the size of a piece of paper, no more than 100 pages thick and have it weigh less than a binder and give it a colour screen with a lightning fast G4 2GHz processor and then we can talk business.
Otherwise...these "tablet" things are useless. [img]tongue.gif[/img]
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I kind of hope they make a break from the "i" in the name if they do indeed produce a Tablet. Considering that the "i" normally denotes a consumer product and the Tablet would be aimed primarily at Businessmen and Students.
Of course, What about tMac or something else, something to establish that it is in a class by itself? Unless of course they just make the next revision of the PowerBook/iBook a tablet type thing.