The recent statement by Intel that future Ultrabooks will have swivel screens and attached keyboards got me thinking about what I want. That's a dangerous pastime for me, and it drove home what I want in a tablet that can serve all of my needs. The most surprising realization was that my dream tablet needs to run Windows 8, or whatever Microsoft ends up calling it.
By way of background I have been using Tablet PCs since they first hit the scene. I used one Tablet PC or another for years, all day every day in my consulting work. I used the pen, I used the keyboard, I was the poster boy for the tablet in the workplace.
My work no longer requires a tablet, but I still find them useful. I probably have a tablet in my hands almost as much as I am sitting at a "real" computer. I like the freedom and convenience that tablets provide for a lot of my work and play.
What I need
My dream tablet needs to have a 9-inch or 10-inch screen with a good resolution (1280x800 or higher). It needs to be as close to a pound in weight as possible, and extremely thin. The size and weight is important, as I expect to be using the tablet in my hands for hours at a stretch. Every ounce over a pound makes that less comfortable.
The tablet must offer the real web without compromise. A lot of my work involves using web interfaces, and I absolutely cannot compromise on this. The surest way to get that is if my dream tablet has a full desktop browser, or better yet the ability to run any browser I want.
I occasionally have to use office documents, so the ability to work with those is a must. These are the standard office fare-- word docs, spreadsheets, and presentations.
The tablet will be my primary (or only) system, so in addition to the work stuff it needs to handle the fun stuff too. This means my music collection (cloud-based and local), video entertainment (online and movies), and especially my ebook reading.
I must be able to use my dream tablet for at least 10 hours a day, so battery life is key. I really use my tablets, so I'm not just talking pick it up, do a few things and put it down. I need to be able to actually use it for 10 hours. More is better, but 10 hours is mandatory.
I don't need mobile broadband, Wi-Fi is sufficient for my needs. I have a 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot and that's good enough for me.
I am a writer so a keyboard is critical for my primary system. I would like my thin and light dream tablet to have a separate wireless keyboard that can be easily used. I particularly like the Zagg keyboard/case for the iPad, and this is what I need for my dream tablet.
While not as important to me as a good interface operated by touch, also incorporating pen input would be beneficial. This means system-wide handwriting input that can be used either as a markup system for some apps, and as a text conversion option in others. It must be totally integrated in the system to be useful, not as an afterthought thrown on top like previous Tablet PCs.
This tablet must have a mobile processor to have true instant-on and standby. I don't want Intel to be anywhere inside my dream tablet, as the company has so far fallen short of what I need. Give me good ARM technology in my tablet and I'll be happy.
I need a good stable of apps that are designed from the ground up for tablet use, but that can also handle use as a laptop with the wireless keyboard. Office apps are required, as is a good email solution for working with Gmail.
How to get that
The best way to get what I need as a tablet is with a full OS that also does the tablet stuff well. That probably means Windows 8, as Microsoft intends to make it handle regular PCs and tablets equally well. I have my doubts it can be done as they intend, but if they can pull it off it's what my dream tablet needs to run.
Win8 is being ported to the ARM platform so it meets my requirement for a mobile processor in my dream tablet. It must not be compromised over the standard build of Win8, however, or it won't meet my desire for the tablet to be my primary system.
Microsoft must obviously support its own cloud services and email, but my tablet can't be limited to that. Like millions of prospective buyers for this tablet, I am entrenched in the Google services. My dream tablet must handle Gmail, Google Docs and hopefully other cloud services. If this requires getting Google onboard with app development, then it must be done. Throw patent licenses on the tablet, Microsoft, and I guarantee you can get Google to support Win8, probably better than Android.
So my dream tablet needs to have the form equivalent to that of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, and its long battery life. I want a keyboard like the Zagg keyboard/case for the iPad, for those times when I need to enter lots of text. I need a full desktop OS that is optimized for a mobile device. I need apps that allow me to do all of my work.
I believe such a tablet could be produced today, and at a reasonable cost. Ideally my dream tablet and keyboard should cost me around $700. I don't want much.