The Computer Tablet revolution?


(Nick Aurelius-Haddock) #1



Have you bought an iPad already, is it the best thing since sliced bread or the next fruit juicer destined for the back of the cupboard?



While taking the Paris Metro yesterday on my way home from Bruxelles, I noticed there were adverts for the just released Apple iPad everywhere, and I fully expect to see the same on Tuesday while taking the Tubes in London.


This form of computer device has been tried and launched unsuccessfully before by several major companies, including Microsoft , who have never seemed to catch the public's attention, that has now apparently changed. The mood for this type of device seems to be right. I think this is due mainly to the success of the iPhone and and iTouch before it, and people can now see the benefit of this keyboard-less type of device. They are by no means perfect, but they are a lot lighter than the netbook's or notebooks must of us use while travelling so they will potentially have a place in our luggage.



There is great news for people who don't use or want to buy Apple technology, as Google have released a competing technology call Android, which is currently having a massive success in the smartphone market and now just starting into computer tablets.



The device that has really caught my eye in this mushrooming new genre is the French made Archos 7 home tablet, not least because of the cost. They start at a very reasonable £129, which means that if it does not quite meet up to what I think these devices will offer, I won't have wasted £600, like most of my friends who can't wait for the latest gadget.



The screen is smaller than the iPad - 7" as opposed to 9" - and the technical specification is a lot lower, but for what I want it for I believe it should do nicely. It can play video upto 720p, the usual music formats MP3 etc, surf the web via WIFI (but not 3G), reading books via e-reader plus access to thousands of other applications from the Archos store - not the Android store currently - but that is on the way. The Archos 7 Home Tablet.



I think one the key elements of these devices will be the web applications that are coming down the pipe from all of the major software providers. If these can all be made to embrace the touch screen input method, then this is going to be a real winner. Things will have to change though, as trying to use old legacy programs on these devices is just not going to work. It will be really interesting to see how they cope with things like blog posting and writing in general. They will be fine for chatting on all the social media like Twitter, as that works fine on my smartphone, but writing real articles is another matter.



Having used my Android smartphone for a while now, the touch system works well and offers so much. Unfortunately for me the screen is just too small for reading books or watching films, so I think this new device will fit the bill, time as always in these matters will tell and testing these features will be part of the fun.





(Phil Benn) #2

I don’t believe it!

Told you that Jobs would get you in the end.

It is a good product though Nick, so let us all know how you get on with it over the next few weeks. Make sure that you get the Papers application installed if you have a lot of PDFs, I have it on my Macbook Pro and don’t know how I ever managed without it.


(Nick Aurelius-Haddock) #3

Well after much deliberation, and physically checking out the Archos and the iPad, I decided to buy the iPad. I have to say I’m very impressed with the product so far, as it was a choice between it and the Kindle/Archos for e-book reading. The whole Apple lock in with iTunes really annoys me, but I’m prepared to put with that for the many benefits it brings. I fully suspect that by the end of this year there will be many Android tablets which will offer more, but I have waited long enough.

As I travel a hell of a lot, this is great for me, and saves me taking my laptop everywhere, but I do think that for some people the price/usefulness ratio might not be there. It’s early days yet, but so far so good.

Nick


(Bob Toovey) #4

Interesting to hear of your experiences. I am sure if I ever got my hands on one I will also be impressed. I am used to installing what I want on my PC when I want to. Something Apple seems to take offence at. I just don’t like being locked in to something. Perhaps I have been using OpenSource for too long!

In the next year or so, we will see Meego, Linux and Android featuring on tablets. There is going to be some really awful ones and some very special ones. I want to wait until I really need one and there is a good choice to be had.

For me, a tablet is a way of browsing the Internet and reading PDF’s. I would not consider one for work unless the interface was very special. The traditional WIMP interface (Windows, Icons, Mouse, Pointer) is too fiddly to use on such a small screen. Using your fingers to edit or prepare documents is too long winded. Each device to it’s own function. A PC with a large screen is great for technical or graphical work, not something a small screen is suited to.

Bob


(Phil Benn) #5

Nick,

I had the opportunity to make full use of an iPad today when a colleague brought one into the office.

Many of the applications he had installed were very usable and intuitive, and quickly dispelled any concerns that the device was just a gimmick.

The video applications, both over 3G and from the internal storage were quick to start and smooth during playback and scrubbing.

Most impressive were the e-books and ‘Papers’ applications which were the closest I have seen to a paper book, with turning pages, ability to drag and move content with your finger, and real time search facilities. Like you we rely on an extensive portfolio of documents and PDFs for our research and technical reference, so these features looked particularly useful.

The email client was easy to use, very similar to the iPhone but with a much larger and easier to use keyboard. The iPhone felt incredibly cramped afterwards.

However I feel that the two main drawbacks are a) the price at around £800 with accessories, and b) the inability to connect a pointing device to the iPad for precision control, such as when preparing technical diagrams.

In summary I can see it being a very influential and formative device; an indicator of where technology is going and where others should follow, very similar to the first iPhones. However it’s just not quite there yet and I would agree with Bob’s observation that the next few years will certainly be interesting times in this area of the market.


(Nick Aurelius-Haddock) #6

I agree Bob, I think the market is going to get more complex with more offerings appearing on a daily basis. There are at least two giants about to launch their versions of the Tablet future with HP using Palm WebOS, and Intel/Nokia having just launched Meego. There are also very strong rumours that Rim(Blackberry) are going to have an offering.

Open source is at the heart of all of these, so it will be very interesting.

Nick


(Bob Toovey) #7

Nick,

The Ipad and related (iPhone and Itouch) are really nice products but I can’t really see what all the fuss is all about. It’s like a step back 5 years, we have proprietary technology that is owned/control and marketed by Apple. It has it’s uses but does really have a future?

There are more and more tablets coming out and I can see in the next 5 years the way we use computers is going to change. Windows 7 on Tablets seems like overkill but the way forward may be Open Source.

Ubuntu and remix editions look to be the best OS to use. Chrome OS should be interesting as well as the Nokia/Intel mix - Meego.

It’s going to take a few years for the market to settle down but we are in for some interesting times.

bob