Tablet devices suck, so why does Apple want to make one?

Tablet devices suck, so why does Apple want to make one?

Summary: The rumors of an Apple tablet/large screen iPod continue to live on, along with the possible upcoming Crunchpad device. After reading Jeremy Toeman's latest article titled, The Tablet That Nobody Really Wants..., I have to say I think he put into words perfectly what most of us have been thinking. I have tried different tablet devices in the past and I see very little benefit from them for the majority of people. The iPhone/iPod touch seem to be just about as big as you need for a productive web surfing and media consumption device and a tablet Apple really does not make much sense to me.

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The rumors of an Apple tablet/large screen iPod continue to live on, along with the possible upcoming Crunchpad device. After reading Jeremy Toeman's latest article titled, The Tablet That Nobody Really Wants..., I have to say I think he put into words perfectly what most of us have been thinking. Wired posted an article stating that 2010 may be the year of the tablet, but I respectfully disagree and don't think any year will be the year of the tablet. People rarely write with a pen and paper anymore and I don't think they will go back to handwriting, especially on an electronic screen that cannot compete with a nice sheet of paper.

I have tried different tablet devices in the past and I see very little benefit from them for the majority of people. The iPhone/iPod touch seem to be just about as big as you need for a productive web surfing and media consumption device and a tablet Apple really does not make much sense to me.

I do think the handwriting recognition found in Windows Tablet PCs is actually extremely accurate and quite remarkable. That said, I am still way more accurate and productive on a QWERTY keyboard and find little benefit in handwriting on a computer screen. The convertible Tablet PC devices do give you a full notebook experience along with a tablet experience, but these have never seemed to sell that well and are priced quite high compared to a comparable netbook.

Does anyone think a tablet device doesn't suck?

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

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109 comments
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  • If portability was a key factor

    to the red hot success of "netbooks", then a tablet which can get rid of the keyboard (and thus half the space when working with it) makes a lot of sense.

    To succeed I belive it has to have a decent on-screen multi-touch keyboard - perhaps with "feedback" which would appear only when you needed it.

    After all, most netbooks are used <i>primarily</i> for net surfing - especially when used in confined spaces such as trains, cafes etc. It makes sense not to allocate "keyboard space" all the time. As long as you <i>can</i> plug in a keyboard once you arrive at your destination.
    honeymonster
    • Nonsense..

      The tablet will be a big hit. If nothing else, the tablet will
      be an eReader for books, magazines, newspapers,
      textbooks, documents.

      Now add to that web surfing, email, App Store, media
      viewer, iTunes, handwriting recognition and tons more.
      Didn't you ever watch Star Trek? Everybody was carrying
      a tablet...
      prof123
      • exactly

        i think it will be all things - apple is definitely targeting eReaders, but I think it will also expanding their ipod line by making a larger-screened ipod with touch interface, while including versatility via bluetooth keyboards and mice. i'd be careful critics, because I think you'll see more tablets in 5 years than laptops. what is key is portability and flexibility. they're effectively taking the mini, adding a larger ipod screen, and releasing it upon the world. why do we need to cart around a keyboard anymore?
        dreamsupply
    • Unfortunately, price is the factor for netbook success

      People who own Netbooks like to suggest that
      portability is the factor for Netbook success.
      Though when asked why they didn't purchase
      something like a MacBook Air or Dell Adamo,
      they don't have a decent excuse. Netbooks are
      popular because of price. Period. Otherwise,
      Netbooks offer a highly compromised user
      experience.

      Current tablets also suck because they rely on
      the old stylus input with the existing desktop
      metaphor. To date, nobody has done a tablet
      device with a multi-touch interface. I don't
      know if the Apple device will be successful or
      not, but a multi-touch interface on a small
      tablet just might have a market as long as it's
      reasonably priced. I think $800 might be to
      high to be successful though.
      techconc
      • Multi-touch on a tablet?

        As an option, it might be okay, but considering you will want to hold a tablet in one hand / arm (like a clipboard) and input with the other hand, how on earth is multi-touch going to help you? If I have to put it down on a table just to use it, I'll get a laptop and use the physical keyboard, thank you very much.

        Multi-touch on the iPhone is the most over-hyped feature in the world, probably because it is the only feature that doesn't exist on other phones. When pressed for an answer as to how they use multi-touch on the iPhone, the only answer I ever get is "well, it is used in these 5 games!!" Yes, I know the browser supports multi-touch but again, when pressed for their usage patterns, they all admit that they "double-tap" more often than they use multi-touch.

        Multi-touch on a portable device is a feature bulletpoint and nothing more.
        NonZealot
        • multi-touch has changed the way users view the internet on mobile devices

          multi-touch has completely changed the way users view the internet on mobile devices, and it is an amazing technology, i cannot imagine the future without such an achievement.
          dreamsupply
        • Multi-touch

          "...but considering you will want to hold a
          tablet in one hand / arm (like a clipboard) and
          input with the other hand, how on earth is
          multi-touch going to help you?"
          You may only be using one hand, but you have 5
          fingers to use. I love how Macbooks allow you
          to scroll using 2 fingers on the trackpad.
          The best use of multi-touch on a tablet would
          be the on-screen keyboard. Normal touch screens
          would move your cursor between your fingers if
          you had 2 fingers on the screen accidentally.
          Another possible use for multi-touch is
          controlling or opening a program just by
          touching 4 or 5 fingers to the screen. For
          instance; playing iTunes, displaying the Home
          screen/Front Row screen, or using Expos?(most
          likely).
          My favorite possibility, though, is it being
          able to sense when you rotate it.
          Garrett Williams
      • 'highly compromised user experience' is so subjective

        i actually think the user experience will be far superior to anything that is out now. with the speed of my iphone 3gs on a wifi network i can do just about anything easier and more enjoyably than on any desktop or laptop computer. now imagine that with a bigger screen. have you ever tried using a laptop on a plane or on your lap or in bed or on the couch. its almost impossible. this tablet (i really see it as an expansion of the ipod line) will be a much more comfortable solution, while allowing the user to perform the functions of a standard laptop. i think what apple is doing is creating an entirely different product notched in somewhere between your ipod/ipohne and a laptop, and honestly, i don't think they want you to give up your laptop, they are just creating another must-need device that will improve users ease of use in this crazy tech world that we live in.
        dreamsupply
  • RE: Tablet devices suck, so why does Apple want to make one?

    I disagree, Matthew, for the following reasons:

    1. Existing tablets offer "very little benefit," it's
    true. But they involve the use of a stylus and a
    desktop operating system and applications, a
    combination conspicuously non-compelling. The Apple
    tablet will almost certainly be touch, which has
    proved to be super compelling on the iPhone.

    2. I don't think you're going to find a lot of
    agreement with the statement: "The iPhone/iPod touch
    seem to be just about as big as you need for a
    productive web surfing and media consumption device."
    Really? How big is your TV? Human beings always want
    bigger screens.

    3. The tablet will probably use iPhone apps (probably
    existing ones in "gadget" mode, which have proved
    ultra compelling on the iPhone.

    4. One of the biggest application areas on the iPhone
    is eBooks, which will be oh, so much better on a
    larger tablet.

    5. Prop one up with a wireless keyboard, and you have
    a netbook killer. The iPhone user interface and app
    store will provide a radically superior experience to
    Windows XP or any other desktop OS squeezed onto a
    netbook.

    Not only do I believe that Apple's tablet will be a
    hit, I think it represents the future of the PC, as I
    wrote in a recent column:
    http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/mowi/article.php/3829
    756/Apples-October-Tablet-Changes-Everything.htm

    Mike Elgan
    mike.elgan@...
    • Of couse it will be a hit

      along the lines of the MBA in terms of sales, as those that already own a Mac may feel that even though they do not actually need it, they feel that they must at least own it.

      If Apple adds in an AppleTV feature and built in "pop-out" stand, it would be a nice portable movie player, which would give a boost to lagging AppleTV/iTunes movie sales.

      Another nice feature to add in would be a "projected keyboard" in front of the unit to give it a more "laptop" like feel to those that find using the unit in tablet form is really not all that what they belived it would be.

      Even without ideas like that it will sell because some people just need to own the latest Apple gadget, no matter how much time it will spend on the shelf.
      GuidingLight
      • off the shelf

        ((( "Even without ideas like that it will sell because some people just need to own the latest Apple gadget, no matter how much time it will spend on the shelf." )))

        While I know plenty of people who need to own the latest Apple gadget (myself included, a lot of the time), I have yet to meet anybody who leaves their Apple gadgets to languish on a shelf. That's because Apple products are so user-friendly and inviting, they make you want to use them. I expect that to be the case for an Apple tablet, as well, when and if they decide to enter that market.
        buddhistMonkey
        • There! It IS something in what they're coated with.

          "... they make you want to use them."
          Patanjali
    • Nope.

      "1. Existing tablets offer "very little benefit," it's true. But they involve the use of a stylus and a desktop operating system and applications, a combination conspicuously non-compelling. The Apple tablet will almost certainly be touch, which has proved to be super compelling on the iPhone."

      Consider what people use tablets for then consider W7 offers multitouch support and where is the compelling reason to use a touchbased tablet?

      [i]2. Really? How big is your TV? Human beings always want bigger screens.[/i]

      But seldom want to carry them everywhere.

      [i]3. The tablet will probably use iPhone apps (probably existing ones in "gadget" mode, which have proved ultra compelling on the iPhone.[/i]

      Sure. It can use iPhone apps. On the other hand it could just use the far more powerful notebook based apps that exist already.

      "4. One of the biggest application areas on the iPhone is eBooks, which will be oh, so much better on a larger tablet."

      Or a netbook.

      "5. Prop one up with a wireless keyboard, and you have a netbook killer. The iPhone user interface and app store will provide a radically superior experience to Windows XP or any other desktop OS squeezed onto a netbook."

      Sure. Let's carry around a spare keyboard instead of having one built into the device. As for 'a radically better experience' that's just silly - W7 runs on netbooks, is touch enabled and will support full scale commercial apps.

      It's not a game changer, it's a silly product especially if it uses a cut down OS to run it.
      Sleeper Service
      • Re: Carrying around a keyboard

        i think no one will have to carry around a keyboard anymore, because solo keyboards will start to proliferate throughout the workplace. what we'll be doing is basically carrying around a hd that we can use as a portable device, using touchscreen keyboards or similar solutions, and then when we get to the workplace or home or wherever, there'll be a physical keyboard there for our use.
        dreamsupply
  • Tablets are cool...

    ... for design purposes (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc). It makes perfect sense to have a mac tablet for these reasons. That said, if you are doing any heavy design work, you probably want something with more power and a USB tablet instead of one of these.

    There could be a niche market for tablets like these, but I don't think they'll really take off.
    waybj
  • Act now!!

    And maybe you too can make a winning prediction like this poor soul here:
    http://news.cnet.com/2010-1041_3-6141607.html

    LOL
    oncall
  • A few thoughts....

    I will not make a prediction because I have been wrong before about Apple. What I will say however is that I would find it very hard to let go of the keyboard for most mobile use.

    Clearly, one size does not fit all, and some people will love an Apple tablet, while some people cannot live without an integrated keyboard. I would not be shocked to see Apple killing the dedicated e-book reader market with such a device eventually. The key would be cost and battery life. Why buy an e-book reader if you can get a fully functioning computer for a bit more? A subsidized price with a monthly e-book subscription may also make sense.

    In the end however, I believe the netbook vs tablet battle will play itself out by more clever designs. Current hybrids are clunky and impractical. If Apple can get rid of all the bulky and power hungry components inside a netbook (very low power chips, no heatsink/fan, no HDD) they may be able to make a very slim tablet. It would then be simple to somehow include a very thin flip-out keyboard (no track pad required). I can envision such a design which could take over the netbook AND the e-book market. I would not count Jobs out, and he will NOT call it a netbook.
    Economister
    • And I might add....

      If history is any indication, Apple may very well define a new category and sell it at a premium price. If successful, the PC makers and MS (Google?) will scramble to try to come up with competing devices at a lot lower price point.

      I really hope Apple comes up with a zinger. My family has two netbooks, but they are not perfect either. I would love a bit of a revolution in the tablet/netbook/e-book reader/video player market. I think there is some real potential for progress.
      Economister
  • imagination

    that's why you don't work for apple, matthew, you have no
    imagination, you are a qwerty-type. you like your motorola Q with
    windows mobile 6.1 just fine.

    skate to where the puck is going to be. ever heard that? do you
    really think this is about handwriting recognition? man, my
    toaster has more imagination.

    it is a media device for 720p video on the plane.

    an ebook reader with your daily newspaper copy just downloaded
    over the air for $.99 on your commute.

    ebooks on vacation.

    your web/email/facebook/twitter tablet for all your
    communication needs.

    a gaming device with tousands of games available.
    all on itunes, just one click away.

    ...

    the list goes on and on.

    and when you come home you can change it into a full fledged
    mac os x device, just plug it into your monitor and it can be your
    mac os x desktop machine.

    sure it is not for people doing excel spreadsheets on the go.
    but it is for everybody else.
    bannedfromzdnetagain
    • It sounded really good until

      you started talking about what you could do at home. That kind of power would absolutely kill the battery life and therefore be a non-starter.
      Economister