Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Rise of the Tablet

I had a talk with my wife the other night. (For simplicity's sake I'll refer to her as 'Red Leader' from now on.) Red Leader is not big on getting new gadgets all the time. Take it as pragmatism, not as technophobia. (She's almost always online, I've been unable to convince Red Leader to start blogging as of yet though.) Usually Red Leader just nods and says 'mmhmm' as wives do when their husbands insist on spouting off tech specs of this, that or the other. Tonight however, Red Leader was on point as soon as I started blathering on about tablet computing. I mentioned the iPad and how it was likely future models would be able to do Facetime. Quoth Red Leader, 'The iPad doesn't even do Flash, besides, your arms would get tired and you'd look stupid holding it up.' She went on to say that Android tablets were currently underdeveloped and all current tablets are over-priced. After I wiped a tear from my eye (she does listen to me!) I got to thinking about the role of tablets in the future. Tablets are gonna be a pretty big deal. (As a side note: I know that there is a difference between tablets, slates and e-readers, but for simplicity's sake I'm going to refer to them all together here.)

The Home

Tablets will make a big splash in the home. A few things will have to happen: the interfaces must be simple, any syncing must be wireless, ebooks must be supported well, and the must be rugged.

The thing about tablets is that they can be many different things to the same person. To one person it could be a TV remote, an e-reader, a gaming device, a web browser, a calculator, a social media platform, a recipe card database and editor, a media player, a home indexer and on and on. What to take away from that is that someone may be using it as a remote, then go into the kitchen get flour all over it, wipe it off and watch an episode of Good Eats while the cake bakes. Beyond all that it's not inconceivable that the same device will be made off with by a two year old when you're not looking.

The School

Students could use the heck out of tablets. They'd need a few things too though: everything from the home list, stylus input, palm rejection, e-textbooks, mic-in for recording lectures, et. al. As a student you juggle a lot, keeping track of class materials is no small part of that. Another issue is mobility. Get a few books in your bag and it starts to feel like a ton, in addition to being bulky. To me, replacing all that with a single tablet is a very very exciting proposition.

The Workplace

Carrying a lot of student requirements over like palm rejection is crucial. Throwing in PDF reading and note-taking sweetens the pot. With this though, wireless syncing becomes critical. Device backups are incredibly important. Mobile e-mail and calender alerts and updating are important too. I recently read about a hospital giving doctors iPads recently, to use for accessing patient's charts etc.

Red Leader's the one that really needs to be sold on tablets. When you can make them cheap enough and functional enough that everyone has to have them. That's when I'll know that tablet computing has really arrived.

1 comment:

  1. red leader sounds like an enterprising young woman, who would have thought a wife that actually listens to her man's techno-babble. My own girlfriend "rogue-7" does seem to understand all of the possibilities related to the iPhone now, although I do agree that tablet computers are a long way off because not only do they need to be more durable they need to perfect the touch screens on the tablets because they are not the most precise I have found. While toying with an iPad at my university's bookstore i thought it didn't seem responsive and wasn't accurate enough for me to consider using it as say a note taking device or any other word processing use that a student could use. overall it is an interesting concept but there are too many hurdles in my opinion and Red Leader would probably agree with that sentiment.