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Innovation

Touching on tablet PCs

Last week, we waved goodbye to Suzie Daniels, a very long-standing (most of the time) member of our gang. She's been in charge of ZDNet UK and much else besides, and helped us do all sorts of cool things.
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

Last week, we waved goodbye to Suzie Daniels, a very long-standing (most of the time) member of our gang. She's been in charge of ZDNet UK and much else besides, and helped us do all sorts of cool things.

As is traditional, there was a bit of a bash and a bit of a presentation. For a leaving gift, we got her an iPod Touch and, for a moment or two at least, that got more attention than she did as various people clustered around to marvel at its slickness. It, like its iPhone sibling, is undoubtedly and extremely cool. (As is Suzie, who soon reasserted herself as the central focus of the evening.)

Meanwhile, the Tablet PC format remains undoubtedly uncool. This is a bit unfair: after a few misfires, Microsoft has got some good technologies together and the idea is working well. It's still a spoddy, vertical market thing that most people associate with meter readers and survey takers. But the conceptual difference between it and the iTouch is nowhere near as major as the vast perceptual chasm that exists between the two.

And now, Apple is busy back-porting features from its touch-based portables into its mainstream PC operating system. CoverFlow, for example, which I saw running on Leopard for the first time yesterday; on the iTouch/iPhone, it lets you riffle through album covers and the like; on Leopard, it combines with a preview for lots of content types so you can go burrowing through the filing system with pizazz.

I don't want to join the rumour mill on the Apple Tablet, although... no, I don't. Honest. But if one were to consider that Microsoft's tablet tech is being held back from widespread acceptance more by perception than its actual capabilities, that the format is potentially very powerful for rich media in a connected world, and that Apple has established a dominant position in touch-based computing, then - well, just join the dots.

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