Sometimes, I’m just plain wrong. I know this is a shocking revelation, especially coming from a journalist, but it does happen once or twice per geological eon. Take the Tablet PC – we looked at some of these mutated laptops-cum-gigantic PDAs, and thought “Bit flash, very expensive, not much point.” Perhaps a few early adopters will buy it, I opined, but if you’re not a total gadget freak with a big wallet, forget it. Indeed, reports of warehouses bulging at the seams with unsold units would seem to justify such a stance.
But no. The Tablet PC has found favour with none other than my sainted mother, who normally regards all things computeresque with enough suspicion to convict a pope. It’s my fault: I bought the parents a Freeview box for Christmas, and they discovered QVC. Now QVC has discovered that you can market unwanted Tablet PCs to people who hate keyboards: the beloved matriarch of the Goodwins clan being one such. She’s also writing a book. So they got one in on 30 days' approval, and it seems like they approve: the handwriting recognition works well with her old-school script, learned when they taught things like neat handwriting at school.
So there’s a new market for Bill, and a small slice of humble pie for me. It gets worse, of course: with the printer and Internet access on the PC in the study and my mother permanently installed in the living room, the inevitable question has already been asked. “This wireless networking, Rupert. It sounds like just the thing.” Here we go again…