Apple iPad – Sure it’s an eBook reader, but it could have been so much more!

Apple iPad with portfolio I was seriously expecting the Apple iPad to be a game changer, but it appears to me that the folks at Cupertino haven’t spent any time using real Tablets. If they had, the iPad probably wouldn’t be lacking an active digitiser with digital ink capabilities.

When commentators said that the lack of Tablet PC sales means that people don’t like the pen, maybe Apple listened. But most of those folks that pass comment on Tablet PCs haven’t seriously used one either…

It’s not true that people don’t like the pen. They might not like the idea of it, but for the most part they’ve never tried it, so they don’t really know that they don’t like it. It’s an experience that they have never been able to have, so they really don’t know how useful it is. The disappointing thing is that thanks to Apple, they may never know.

Windows Tablets are still far from perfect, but due to the lack of a digitiser they are still far more useful than the iPad appears to be.

Tablet-PC-Meeting with Motion C5, J3400 and LE1700 Tablet PCsTo give you an example, I spent the weekend in a conference. I took notes through the entire full day session on a Motion Computing C5 tablet on one battery. That included scribbled notes, mind maps, sketches, drawings and audio. Windows indexed all of my handwritten content in the background so that I can search through it… which I often do.

Another example, when a customer calls on the phone, I have my Tablet PC open with Microsoft OneNote and our enquiry form template. I fill in the details we discuss without distracting the person on the other end from the conversation with the noise of frantic key tapping. It’s much faster to note take this way than on the keyboard anyway.

The original TC1100 Tablet PC When I go to a meeting with a customer, I always take notes and fill in the answers to my questions so that my sales process does not rely on tatty notebooks, sticky notes and lost paper.

I often take screen shots of things like web pages, pictures, documents and videos, then scribble on them and email them off using the Microsoft Snipping Tool.

I never print letters of faxes that I have to sign. I just sign on the screen and email them straight back using Bluebeam or Word.

Digital note taking, sketching and drawing is all impractical on a device like the iPhone or iPad. There are no tools to do it with… Sure, you could use the brushes application shown at the iPad launch to draw with your finger… But that’s a bit like drawing with a blunt stick. Practically useless when compared to using a Tablet PC with a Wacom active digitiser – Which is both proximity and pressure sensitive, while your touch screen is neither.

No, there are only 2 things that have held Windows based Tablet PCs back from going where Apple is about to go (and I’m not talking about UMPCs here).

  1. Price – iPad is cheap in comparison
  2. Availability – iPad will be available to get your hands on in most places.

Windows Tablets did not take a huge hit today, because Apple decided to play it safe. Did Apple fall into the old corporate trap of too many focus groups, too many committees, too many meetings, too many voices of fear in the back of their heads? They played it safe and just supersized an existing product… I don’t think that’s going to fly.

This is not the mobile phone scenario where windows mobile is being seriously spanked by the iPhone. Phones are pretty much a closed system, whereas Windows Tablets leverage the 92% of computers in the world that run Windows, not to mention the fact that they can connect to and access practically any server be that Windows, *nix or Mac.

That said, if Microsoft et al don’t act – and be seen to act – it may be only a matter of time until history is rewritten by Apple.

Remember the first iPhone? With no 3G, no video, no app store? Apple won’t stand still with a seriously deficient product like this until it becomes a seriously useful product like the iPhone 3Gs.

Written by brettg in: Tablet PC | Tags: , ,

Apple iPad – From semi-impressed to disappointed

performance_20100127 The release of the Apple iPad this morning threatened to impress. It looks great – as expected like a big iPhone. 1.3cm thick, 700grams, impressive screen. Super mobile computing!

But I had hoped for something game changing. I had hoped that Apple would bring something new to the slate form factor with some radical new input method like mind control or eye tracking… Something that was just out there!

Coming down off of the high of finally meeting the unicorn (Apple Tablet has been a myth for 5 years now), I am starting to feel a little disappointed.

One of the biggest benefits of having a tablet is input. Taking notes, drawing, handwriting recognition. Apple iPad has none of that. It even appears to have kept the same virtual keyboard as the iPhone – which is good enough for a 3 inch screen, but hardly ideal for a 10” one.

On the iPhone, input is frustrated by constant switching form letters to numbers to symbols and it appears that Apple haven’t really even addressed this with their legendary innovation… Nothing.

In the end, it appears that we’ll have to wait for MS and partners to come back with a decently priced super mobile digitizer tablet that handles handwriting recognition, sketching and note taking. At the end of the day they already have all that right now, but just not at the right price!

So it turns out that the Apple iPad is a consumption device for consumers. Disappointing.

Written by brettg in: Tablet PC | Tags: , ,

It’s a Tablet! Seth Godin confirms release of Apple Tablet

Seth Godin confirmed tomorrow’s release of Apple Tablet on his blog this morning…

I want to be the very first author to announce a new project for Apple’s tablet.

He adds,

Steve Jobs will probably never speak to me again for announcing before his launch. That’s okay, he never speaks to me anyway.

It’s not really news, but it’s still interesting… As is the Vook Video / Book reading platform that is referred to in the post.

Read it here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/01/jumping-the-gun.html

Written by brettg in: Tablet PC | Tags: , , ,

Super impressed with Kindle 2 – Can’t wait until UMPCs come like this!

kindle2I got a chance to get up close with the Kindle 2 over the holidays… Until recently, that’s been pretty hard to do here in Australia.

My verdict: Super impressed!

The eInk screen is very comfortable to read, although I didn’t get a chance to use it in the sun (as it rained in QLD pretty much the whole time).

What I like about the Kindle 2:

  • Super thin
  • Very light – easy to hold for long periods of time
  • Easy to read
  • Long battery life…

What I don’t like about the Kindle 2:

  • Still very limited selection of titles in Australia. It’s getting better, but still not good enough
  • Scrolling control / jog dial – could take a lesson from the old HP TC1100 jog dial
  • Lack of touch input
  • Device is locked in Apple style…

Pros outweigh the cons as far as I’m concerned. The Kindle 2 will do much to attract people to e-reading.

What I’m really excited about is the prospect of using a Tablet PC or UMPC that fills this form factor. No, I don’t want it to run some dumbed down mobile phone OS like Google Chrome or Windows Mobile either… I want full Windows on it. I want it to replace my desktop like my Motion J3400 does… Can’t wait for that – It’s only a matter of time.


Tablet PC – why you need to be patient…

Microsoft MouseEvery article I read about Tablet PCs in mainstream IT press seems to want label the Tablet PC as a failed concept. As I watch significant numbers of Tablet PCs walk out the door every month in our business, I chuckle every time I hear about it… Of course, even I’m old enough to know that it’s all happened before…

Into Personal Computing History…

In its current form, the PC mouse is now 42 years old, but it is really only 25 years since it went mainstream with the Apple Macintosh – 1984… Here’s what a respected PC journalist had to say about that:

"The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. It, unfortunately, leaves the “why” out of the equation – as in “why would I want this?” The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I dont want one of these new fangled devices."

John C. Dvorak – Commenting on the mouse that came with the Apple Macintosh, San Francisco Examiner, 19 February 1984

Tablet PC Meeting With Paper And ScissorsThat pretty much sums up the way the tech journos  write about Tablets and UMPCs today…

Like the switch from keyboard to the mouse, most people will initially resist the change… I still know people who hate the mouse so much that they continue to operate completely without one.

That said, even I was still using PCs without a mouse well into the 90’s (we had PCs at home, not Macs). Nowadays, it would be practically impossible to work without a mouse (barring touch and pen input of course!).

I believe that the adoption of Touch and tablet technology is similar. Digital pen technology has been around in a commercial form for 20 years now, but it really hit the mainstream in 2001 (2006 for UMPC). So it’s been 9 years and things are getting exciting for a couple of reasons:

  1. Better hardware – outdoor / indoor screens, capacitive touch, low power processors, mobile broadband access.
  2. Better software – Windows 7, multi-touch, Android, better handwriting recognition and ink enabled apps like Microsoft Office.

HP TC1100 Convertible Hybrid Tablet PC with Docking StationSo the Tablet will continue to gain ground as  an accepted mainstream form of computing.

However, it won’t play out exactly the same. That’s because tablets are most useful in mobile scenarios, whereas the mouse could be used practically on a desktop. Practical Tablet PC use also has much higher software and processing requirements – like handwriting recognition and virtual keyboard input.

That means that unlike the mouse which is now attached to practically every PC, tablets will probably never gain that sort of presence. Additionally, they will take longer to gain mainstream acceptance.

Apple will have a good crack at it this year… like they did with the mouse, with the release of some sort of Tablet. But like the much like the mouse, they probably won’t be able to change the market overnight.

Also, if Apple do adopt touch input on a PC – as the mouse has taught us – it does not mean that Apple will ultimately own the market.

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