Tablet Thinking

As the story goes we’re about to see all sorts of Tablets at various points this year beginning this spring. Am I excited about that? Yes, but probably not as much as some. Oh, the geek and gadget blogger in me is very excited to see what is new, what works, what differentiates one from another, and so on and so on. But the Tablet user in me is starting to get a little bit more wary, and dare I say practical about all of this.

Why? Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure we’re going to see that much difference in what one Tablet has to offer over another. Don’t get me wrong, some of them will be real sexy and cool to work with. Android and iOS Tablets will have lots of Apps to choose from. But when push comes to shove, I’m betting that no Tablet is going to offer me anything much beyond what I have with my current iPad. Oh, sure the new iPad most likely has a camera or two and may have an increased resolution. It’ll probably get a processor bump,  but none of that really makes me all that gung ho for the next model.

On the Android front, Honeycomb looks exciting, but we’re still along way from demo videos showing us what is really going on there. RIM isn’t of interest to me for personal use. I’ve never used a Blackberry and don’t want to get one to take advantage of what I consider basic features like email and PIM functions. WebOS sounds exciting, but like Honeycomb, we really don’t now much about what it will or won’t be. The Notion Ink Adam looks promising as well, but I’m waiting to see what users say now that it is supposedly shipping. As for Windows Tablets. Well, let’s just not go there. Please.

Here’s the thing. Every Tablet is going to run Evernote. They will all allow media to be played back. They will all feature a Kindle App and most likely a Nook App and any other ebook reading App out there. Most of my favorite Apps will eventually get there as well. They will all browse the web and through some keyboard method you can do email and do some document creation on them. Some will run FLASH. One won’t. Some will run it poorly. Not an issue for me, or at least it hasn’t been since I’ve had the iPad.

Am I being overly skeptical here, or realistic? I’m not sure. But before I decide to purchase a new Tablet that may or may not mean changing platforms here are the things I’m going to have to see and the things I don’t care about.

Things I Need to See:

  • Battery life: The iPad has spoiled me. I use it a lot and have never felt like I needed to conserve or check my usage for battery life. If a Tablet can’t approach that I’m flat out not interested. Apple set the bar here. Everybody else has to measure up.
  • Inking. I know many long time Tableteers will argue that the iPad can’t do Inking the way Tablet PCs can. They are correct. But the iPad, thanks to the work of several App Developers has become a very capable Inking device for my note taking. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again here, it is all about how you prefer to take notes. Will we see this kind of Inking on other Tablets? Perhaps with the Notion Ink Adam. But I’m in wait and see mode here.
  • Ecosystem. Apple is tough to beat here. Android might be getting closer. The key isn’t who has the most Apps, it is who has the Apps I need.
  • Price: No higher than $700.
  • Size: Because of my Inking requirement I need a Tablet with a 9-10 inch screen to work effectively.
  • Weight: No heavier than the current iPad.

Things that Don’t Matter to Me

  • Cameras: I don’t see a real need for a camera on a Tablet in my use case.
  • Connectivity beyond WiFi. I’m not going to pick up another carrier contract for a Tablet. I’ll stick with a MiFi solution that allows me and my wife to use our devices when we travel. Yeah, I know we’re hearing talk about mobile hot spot functionality on smart phones. I just don’t see that as a viable option in my household on a smartphone (believe it or not, unlike many I still use a smart phone as a phone) and I don’t see it if that kind of functionality makes it to a Tablet.
  • Higher Res Display. Nice but not necessary.
  • Ports and Extensibility. I haven’t found myself hampered using the iPad in its current configuration since DropBox made its APIs available and developers took advantage of it.
  • Physical Keyboard. We’re seeing several hybrid like models being talked about.  I can see the use case for others. I don’t need this at all, so it is not a selling point for me.

My wish list is not very long or very complex and given how I see things unfolding in the next year that’s probably a good thing. I just don’t see much difference in what we are supposedly about to see between one Tablet or the other.

I’m sure some are saying that I will never switch from the iPad. That’s not true. If my list of items above gets punched I could easily see myself doing so. But until then, we’ll have to wait and see.