Not Far from the Tree

Personally I always swore I would never buy a “laptop” or other portable computer until it could fit in my pocket. Cellphones don't count.

Personally I always swore I would never buy a “laptop” or other portable computer until it could fit in my pocket. Cellphones don't count. Netbooks are still too big. Tablet computers have been around for a while. The OQO was way too freaking expensive. So I'm still not in the market.

Tablets have industrial uses in specific vertical markets. They just haven't managed to break out into the general consciousness of a “mass market” until recently. The problem is that the digital hygiene product is not ready for industrial use. If it breaks when you drop it, its not ready for Industrial use. For most people its a toy just like its older sibling.

A couple of years ago, my son “rescued” a Transmeta based COMPAQ tablet from a recycling center. It has XP Pro on it and runs fine for about 2 hours on its new battery. When we put on the AC supply, it immediately booted up. I ran chkdsk and it booted every time there-after. Somebody had thrown it out. There must be something wrong with it?

My employer bought a bunch of used/refurbished tablet computers a few years ago and they promptly expired after a few weeks of operation. The ones that didn't, had major battery issues. The vendor only had the tablets, not the battery packs to go in them. When the physically flat NiMH batteries went electrically flat and failed, usually while charging, they would expand like plumped pillows! That put lots of pressure on the plastic box they were housed in and usually broke the plastic. Instant dead computer.

At least all of them had batteries that could be replaced by normal human users without any special tools or techniques.

Most of them did have Ethernet connectors and ran 100 Megabits/sec.

One thing all of these tablets shared, besides bad battery technology, was the lack of; a camera, a microphone and speakers, USB 2.0 connections, and built-in wireless Ethernet radios. Sound familiar?

There has been a crescendo of fruit-flavored sycophantic propaganda pouring forth from all the media outlets and I can't wait till it all dies down. Maybe then people will see what a crappy piece of hardware it is on just the specifications alone.

Tablets are great for certain uses. UPS and other freight companies probably couldn't exist without them. They promise to help revolutionize medical care in hospitals. Warehouses likewise are big tablet venues.

I work in an industry where tablets could provide a special “user experience” to crib a phrase from the bigger California gorilla. What I'm fearful of is that the fruit flavor of the week will rot and put off other potential OEMs from building their smarter and better functioning tablet devices.