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Apple's not-so-secret tablet: Flawed from the start

Apple are rumoured - key word there is "rumoured" - to be building a tablet device which can only be described from reports as a netbook-sized iPhone. After trying to explain this to my friend in the pub last night, who isn't the most technically minded of people but thankfully has good looks on her side, her questioning put things into perspective for me.
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Written by Zack Whittaker on

Apple are rumoured - key word there is "rumoured" - to be building a tablet device which can only be described from reports as a netbook-sized iPhone. After trying to explain this to my friend in the pub last night, who isn't the most technically minded of people but thankfully has good looks on her side, her questioning put things into perspective for me. Why build a novelty iPhone-like device? Why?

Epic fail.

In my professional opinion, having a tablet is like having a grandma without the sweets, like drinking non-alcoholic beer and bringing sun protection with you on your holiday to Scotland. It's absolutely pointless.

For the sake of terminology, a Tablet PC is a laptop with a keyboard and a screen which can be twisted into a laptop position or a touch-screen tablet device. A tablet on the other hand is a pure touch-screen device and looks like a much bigger iPhone or iPod touch, and has no keyboard except a software one running on the host operating system.

Confused? That's how I see it being anyway; one has a keyboard and one doesn't.

It is important to point out at the moment, the Apple tablet rumour consists of no real substance. The company's policy of keeping things secret actually works quite effectively, unlike Microsoft's mediocre attempt at patching plumbing works. Either way with Apple, you're forced into resigning or forced over the edge of a tall building if things go disastrously wrong (or missing).

Bryant Zadegan, a good friend of mine who wrote an article yesterday on the upcoming tablet, suggested students were the focal point of Apple's new venture. While I understand his sentiments and agree with him, I cannot see how note-taking or handwriting features are going to work properly in this tablet.

As far as I am aware, the only touch-screen product Apple has made is the iPhone and iPod touch. I've never seen handwriting technology in either of these. I'm not saying they aren't in there, but I've never seen it. How can they manage to jump in head first into a fully-fledged tablet device without any real or relevant experience in handwriting, touch or text recognition?

That is of course if they have any handwriting or text recognition in the rumoured device. For all we know, they could be opting for the on-screen keyboard approach and nothing more.

If this is the case, they they are doomed to begin with. Microsoft has included handwriting technology since Windows XP and as the touch technology gets better, more refined and with better accuracy, it has reached a point in Windows 7 where I can tell you from first hand experience that it is far better than their voice recognition ever was.

Sites are claiming that students would love the tablet, but I am dead against it. Typing on a touch-screen is like air-typing on a table. It's uncomfortable and you don't get the ergonomic feedback that you would get with a keyboard. But when typing with it, it'll have to be on your knee and raised at an angle to see the screen properly. Not only will this be uncomfortable but could cause strain injury over time.

A touch-screen laptop like the HP TouchSmart tx2, which I own and have reviewed, would be more up the student's street. If you want to type, then you can type to your heart's content, and if you want to write, then flip the screen round and hold it cradled in your arm. The ability to pick and choose which input style you want is key to the success of these devices.

But for now, the pen is most certainly not mightier than they keyboard, and I cannot see this changing any time soon.

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