eReaders to Drive Tablet PC Further Into a Niche?

Interesting comments are being tossed around about what the Kindle DX, the Kindle 2, and other eReader devices mean for the tablet pc space.

Loren Heiney has an excellent write up about how this is the year of the slate form factor – think iPhone, Kindle, Kindle DX, etc. Notice he doesn’t say “Tablet PC”. He offers some additional thoughts about how the Tablet PC should no longer be considered the device for one to one computing in the K-12 education space. The eReader form factor, in his opinion, is a much more logical and cost effective device, especially in the lower grade levels. Battery life, power consumption, weight, etc make eReaders like the Kindle really standout for the problem school districts are trying to solve. As students get older, their needs change and computing requirements change, but will students naturally turn to the Tablet PC as their needs evolve? I’m not sure.

Being a Kindle 2 owner, I have seen my Tablet PC usage change. I’m more apt to take my Kindle places where I use to use my Tablet PC for similar tasks like reading. The Tablet PC’s real strength is in ink annotation, though. Once PDF ink annotating comes to the Kindle, though, it will become an even harder justification for folks to make between a dedicated device that excels at what it is designed for vs a do-it-all solution that costs a ton more.

It is interesting to see a space that Microsoft and the OEMs launched 6 years ago finally begin to take shape, but with others now beginning to take ownership of and take to mass market.  As eReaders and other slate form factors begin take hold, do you see the Tablet PC space being further marginalized or do you see this as an opportunity for the light to shine even brighter for the Tablet PC?