Saturday, 10 September 2011

My tablet experience

So I got my hands on a HP touchpad, it was a hell of a lot of work. Apparently £89 tablets sell quick. Anyway back to my point, I now have a tablet. Admittedly its a tablet that I had to devote an afternoon to modding to make it work as well as its competition, and it runs an unsupported OS. Neither of these things really bothered me, firstly I like tinkering so having to modify the kernel and OC the cpu was fun for me, and having a really good android phone I know that you really don’t use that many apps.

So I’ve had it a while now and something has dawned on me or at least re-dawned on me(I have never been a fan, but a fire sale made me forget), tablets suck. They are in their current iteration in an unhappy middle ground between something portable and really productive(laptop) and something really really portable and completely unproductive(smartphone). The only thing tablets have going for them and it’s a pretty big thing is that they are really cool, but is it just me or is something that relies entirely on cool also know as a fad?

To talk specifically about the issues with the form factor a little: first off a 10.1inch screen that seems to be the most popular makes using two hands to type really hard, and typing with one hand slow, its still not possible to make a device that size light enough for comfort but also sturdy, its also quite large fine to carry if you have a bag but not really pocketable. In other words it’s harder to type on than a decent smartphone and less easy to hold, there is more screen estate though and it is a nicer experience than my phone but not by a lot.

Tablets also run OS’s that really are designed for phones and happen to be able to scale up. Apps are great and all but to be honest most of them don’t give anything over what a decent webpage can give you, there a definitely a few that give novel features to your hardware but these are typically for very specific things that are used occasionally.

So how would I make tablets good? Well I would do what I think Microsoft's doing. essentially instead of beefing up their phone OS they are shrinking down their desktop OS to fit on a tablet. So next year we could have tablets with a touch orientated interface for “tablet mode” and the option to use a keyboard dock or a a wireless keyboard and have access to a full windows experience. So a device that can be very mobile and very productive, I’m looking forward to it.

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