by George Heymann

2010 Year of the tablet, Why it will succeed!

What is a Tablet and why should you care? In his (Las Vegas) Comdex
Nov. 11, 2001 keynote speech, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates shared
his vision for the evolution of the laptop PC, the Tablet.
This new tablet was to combine the advantages of the PC with emerging
speech and pen capabilities in a sleeker hand-held form.
It was a grand vision, but an idea that was ahead of its time and the technology
of the day. It was met with limited market acceptance, distribution and
deemed a failure.

Fast forward to 2010 and what is expected to be the hottest “new” device
category? Surprise! It’s the Tablet, Slate, iPad. Whatever you want to
call the device, it’s the device that is supposed to fill the niche between the
smartphone and the laptop computer. Many tablets in development or in production
share several key elements. They are lightweight, sleek-form factor devices
that are very energy efficient, many rated 8-10 plus hours of active usage and
up to 30 days of standby time.

Incorporating relatively fast, low-power processors, memory and screen
technologies coupled with some variation of a Solid State Drive (SSD) for storage,
the technology has finally caught up with the vision.

Let me tell you why I think these devices are poised to succeed.

What’s different this time? They finally got the premise right. Instead of
just trying to create a more portable version of the PC, they have created an “instant on” media consumption device. The instant-on capability, combined with
the small footprint of this device, is key. You can do a quick check of your e-mail, check in with your friends on Twitter and Facebook, update your Netflix queue,or check on what’s playing at the movies or TV in the time it would normally
take for your PC to boot up. Priceless!

The Tablet will be the gadget you never knew you needed. I envision these devices
to be used as a shared home appliance. It will take its place on your coffee
table alongside your trusty TV remote. It will be used to read the newspaper,
your favorite books, magazines, watch movies, listen to music, check recipes and
many other activities. Another important factor in the success of this
category of device is that the tablet to a large extent is platform agnostic. There
is a certain synergy with pairing an Android phone with an Adam Tablet, or an iPhone with an iPad, since they use the same code base and present an opportunity to share applications as well as data. You don’t need to have an Android phone and a PC to get full use out of your new Adam Tablet. Conversely, you can use
your iPad just fine without owning an iPhone or Macbook.

Secondly this confluence of technologies is being offered at very affordable, previously unattainable price points. A year ago, if it would have been possible to
build a similar device it would have easily cost $1,200-$1,500. Today, these
tablets are to be sold for between $300-$900, with the sweet spot to be found
at $500-$600 range. I’ve narrowed my Tablet selection to three very
different devices:

1) Apple
2) Notion Ink Adam
3) Hewlett-Packard Slate

I’m torn, though, as each device has its strengths and weaknesses.
All three are very good for certain functions but none is perfect.
Hopefully, my selections will serve as a starting point in your search.
You can Google each Tablet or follow the supplied links for additional information
as well as detailed specifications related to each device.

None of the companies from my favored tablet selections are shipping product as of this writing but are expected to soon. Apple is taking pre-orders now for April 3rd delivery on the Ipad Wifi model and the 3G model up to 30 days after that. The Adam is expected to be available in June/July 2010. HP has not announced an estimated shipping date, other
than to say it will be available sometime in 2010. Latest rumors have the slate available in that same June/July time frame with prices starting around $600 (unconfirmed).

Which one should you get? This decision is not that different from the
choice you made when you decided which PC to purchase.

What do you want to do with the device and where do you want to do it? How much memory and storage do you need? How much money do you want to spend? Do you need an
always-on Internet connection (3G) or will a wi-fi connection suffice for your
online needs?

Once you make those decisions, you can weigh price vs. performance to determine what features offer you the best value. There has never been a better time to be a geek. The available devices are as divergent as their price points, and having a plethora of choices is always a good thing!


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