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A Conversation with a Reader about Tablet PCs and Tablets Part 3



This is the third is a series of posts that encompass an email conversation with a GBM reader about Tablet PCs and Tablets. The reader has given me permission to post the conversation but wishes to remain anonymous. You can find the first two parts of the conversation here and here.



Thanks for taking the time to respond to this. I find the discussion both enlightening and frustrating. I buy what you say about the possibilities for paradigm shifts and where we are with that, but to be honest, I’m not that interested. They don’t work in my case. Or at least I don’t think they will. I’m a creature of habit and when I find something I like I stick with it through thick and thin. I need inking as I have described and I don’t want to see that go away. I’d be thrilled if the new Tablets would incorporate it but that doesn’t seem to be a priority at the moment, as you point out.

Your broader perspective on the industry is really frightening when I think about it, because it cuts the consumer’s needs out of the picture.

So, tell me, honestly. Do you prefer Inking no an iPad or on a Tablet PC? Doesn’t it make you angry that things have gone the way they seem to have gone?

My response

Honestly, as I’ve said many times before Inking on a Tablet PC is far and away a superior experience to what it is on the iPad currently. Does it make me angry? Well, yes. But then, I’m pragmatic and I realize that the folks making the decisions are playing a game of chase the dollar more than anything else. And right now everyone is convinced the prize is with Tablets that don’t feature Inking as a big part of the picture.

I’ve also said the following before as well. Don’t be surprised if someday (not in the immediate future) that Inking makes a comeback. There are only so many ways to innovate with the devices we now have. In order to play chase the buck companies need to try and one up each other. HTC is giving it a go with the Flyer. I bet others will as well. I’ve also said that I won’t be surprised if Apple isn’t the one that makes this actually work someday in the future. But that’s down the road, if ever.

So here’s a question back at you. If you’re happy with a Tablet PC in terms of getting your work done, why do you express such dissatisfaction with the current state of the Tablet scape?

Reader response

That’s a good question. And it made me think. I guess my frustration is that blogs like GBM are falling all over the latest and greatest and ignoring Tablet PCs. I know you guys cover what’s new and coming, but some love towards Tablet PCs now and again would be nice. I know you need to post what gets you traffic so don’t come back at me with that.  Although I understand what is going on, it makes it hard to feel like you guys are covering what I want to read. Call me selfish, but that’s the heart of it.

My response

I buy your feelings there and I will come back at you a bit about driving traffic. In order for GBM cover anything we need to bring traffic to the site. That’s  a cut and dry response, but it is more than that. In my view, (and I’m not speaking for others here, just myself) everything that is currently happening in the market affects what we are calling Tablet PCs in this discussion. Unfortunately, for those who love them, the effects seem to be more negative than positive. We’re covering that developing story as it evolves. Or at least we’re trying to. Someone mentioned in the comments to this series about the number of MVPs we have and have had on the site. I think it is telling that those of us who had received that distinction here are blogging about the market the way we are.

That said, I think you’d find any one of us jumping up and down for joy if Microsoft pulled a rabbit out of its hat (or got its head out of its butt) and came up with a workable Tablet that had Inking at its core. But we obviously don’t see that happening in the near future. And that’s not because we are privy to any information as MVPs. We aren’t.

You passion and ours (at elate mine) are the same. There’s been a definite decline in coverage of Tablet PCs. We’re attempting to cover what is causing that decline in the context of what’s new and how what’s new affects what exists. We may not always put that in the proper context, but I think that’s what is going on.

My advice, and you can take it or leave it, is to enjoy what makes you happy about using a Tablet PC. I almost added, “while you can”, but that’s probably overly pessimistic on my part. That said, while you’re doing so, think ahead a bit and examine the ever changing context. Change is inevitable and if using Digital Ink is as important to you as you state, you might want to explore alternatives as they are being first offered. Then again you might not.  Again, I know that isn’t satisfactory, but it is what it is in my view.

Thanks for pushing back on all of this and allowing me to run this as a series of posts. I think our readers really appreciate the conversation.



  1. ChrisRS

    06/20/2011 at 4:37 pm

    Quotte Warner “If you’re happy with a Tablet PC in terms of getting your work done, why do you express such dissatisfaction with the current state of the Tablet scape?”

    I have used 3 convertable TbaletPCs. ACER C3xx 14 inch screen. Gateway 14 inch w/ Finepoint  (Still working) and Gateway C14X – 14 inch – Wacom – dedicted graphics – My mains computer, even for AutoCad.

    The active digitzer TabletPC world is stagnent:
    * Fujitsu has stopped making slates.
    * Larger screen tablet are few and far between.
    * The Prosumer market is ignored. (Acer and Gateway gave it a shot. HP very early on)
    * Slates are a niche product because they are so expensive. They are so expensive because they are a niche product.
    * MS Ofiice team ignores pen touch.
    * All new models are pretty much incremental refreshes.
    * Still typically underpowered. Give us some options.
    * Slates should be more reliable and easier to produce tahn a convertable. The will not sell well if they conctinue to cost substantially more that a convertabll or equivalent laptop.

    What’s new?
    * N-trig! Maybe next-next year they will work out some of the bugs. Right now the TavbletPCs need word of mouth new about great experiances. N-trig is just not ready.
    * Netbook grade TabletPCs. I have nothing against them but they are not waht I want or need.
    * Asus EP121 – interesting but no cat5, docking solution, processor options, ned 8 GB memory option

    I would like to replace my aging TabletPC with out downgrading and paying twice the price. I’ll continue to wait. Iwopuld like a slate over a convertable, but there are too many compromizes.

  2. Kenrick Mock

    06/20/2011 at 5:05 pm

    Fujitsu recently launched the Q550 slate…

    • ChrisRS

      06/21/2011 at 1:11 am

      Netbook guts – no thanks.
      N-Trig – NO WAY.
      I’m sure this is a fit for some people, but not me. Typical of the current tablet scene.

  3. Mjktechgeek

    06/20/2011 at 7:01 pm

    I had the Q 550 and it was really underpowered. That is the main problem with the new windows slate tablets. Microsoft messed up several years ago by not marketing the tablet and inking capability properly. I agree with Warner. We have to cover the industry as it is now and not how we wish it to be. Tablet PC users are probably 1% of the market and until that reached 10-20% we won’t see any changes. Manufacturers need to release Windows tablets the size of the iPad and Android tablets and until that happens, which I think will in the future, the paradigm will not shift.

  4. therepublicofbunny

    06/20/2011 at 8:53 pm

    Fujitsu still has convertable slates as well, check out the T901.  It has an I7 as an option and a 13.3 inch screen with Wacom digitizer.  I just got one and even though it cost me 2700+ after customization, I think it will be worth it. 

    I have been using a HP TX2-1275 DX for the past three years and am amazed that it still runs, especially since HP stopped supporting it after 14 months.  I will never buy another consumer convertable tablet computer again, because it is not worth the headache. If that means I buy a business style laptop, so be it.  It might last longer and be worth the money.   

    • Mjktechgeek

      06/20/2011 at 9:31 pm

      That is true. But consumers don’t want 4-6lb tablets. I had an HP 2710 and a Dell XT 2 and they were still too big for me. I use a MacAir 11 running Windows 7, iPad2, HTC Flyer and an HP Slate. Each device fills a need and they are all super portable. That is what consumers want, thin and light. There will always be 5lb. Convertible tablets for those that need them, but those don’t make the manufacturers enough money to warrant their attention.

  5. Dmpellow

    06/20/2011 at 9:15 pm

    What I use: A typical HP/Intel desktop at work, running Windows XP, but with a Novell/GroupWise environment (no MS Exchange, no Outlook). An Android smartphone is my only personal phone. At home, I have an HP convertible tablet laptop, which mostly stays docked. In practice, the HP battery bulge made it extremely inconvenient to use the tablet as a notepad, and Windows 7 seems to have knocked out the hardware screen rotation switch.

    What I want: A digital equivalent of the “yellow pad,” with the ability to keep several “pads” open to take notes on new matters when the phone rings, and an easy way to send the days’ notes to project files (OneNote is more my style than EverNote, but I use EverNote more because it’s just there all the time). I want an aspect ratio similar to the (approximately) 12:9 of the yellow pad, not 16:9. I want a card reader and USB connectivity.

    Why I think it’s not available: The iPad went for the consumer market, and everyone is following the iPad into that market. The feature set I want is not “consumer,” it is “enterprise.” The money right now is in “consumer” – especially consumption of movies, TV, and music, which means that there are other commercial juggernauts who are simultaneously scared and fascinated by the potential of these “consumer” devices and who see the potential to make money on top of the money Apple, Google, and others are making. There is no similar base of insurance companies, design/build contractors, and hospitals rooting for better slates to help their employees get their work done. I hardly ever watch TV at home, so I’m not going to buy a Tablet that is designed for an optimum TV/movie experience; in other words, I’m not drawn to the wide screen format. But, a lot of consumers are. I’m guessing the Reader who started this is not among them.

    Another Way to Understand Your Reader’s Pain: I think your Reader who started this wishes you and other blogs would do something that blogs don’t do – original reporting. Blogs are in large part derivative – someone else sifts through FCC filings and retailer SKUs, companies issue press releases, and “old media” conducts and publishes interviews. Bloggers are essentially aggregators and deliverers of this information – a substantial service in this age of information overload. The fact is that very little is surfacing in these sources about Inking, suggesting that very little is happening to develop Inking. Maybe there is something happening in a hidden skunkworks somewhere, but we don’t expect bloggers to conduct months-long investigations to uncover this kind of thing (my bet – it isn’t there, anyway). Your Reader may be looking for someone (anyone!) to find evidence that the Commercial Players know that we Inkers are out here. That may not happen until the consumer market has been saturated with machines streaming American Idol and Shrek XV, and, as you suggest, some vendor is looking for marginal gains in a niche market.

    • therepublicofbunny

      06/21/2011 at 12:06 am

      The iPad has that.  You can get it in the apps Notes Plus (but I would wait for the next version) or Note Taker HD.  Get a Wacom stylus and you are set. Email them off to Evernote as needed.

    • therepublicofbunny

      06/21/2011 at 12:06 am

      The iPad has that.  You can get it in the apps Notes Plus (but I would wait for the next version) or Note Taker HD.  Get a Wacom stylus and you are set. Email them off to Evernote as needed.

    • Guest

      06/21/2011 at 3:18 pm

      “Another Way to Understand Your Reader’s Pain: I think your Reader who
      started this wishes you and other blogs would do something that blogs
      don’t do – original reporting.”

      Exactly.  I for one don’t need yet another Engadget clone with a focus on smartphones and the latest ipad.

      It would also be interesting to know just what the user base and market is for those boring old convertibles and tabletPC slates.  I don’t think Fujitsu or Panasonic or HP or motion or all of the other companies are building them just for kicks, they must be making some money doing it.  Yet there are precious few places to read about these things online.

  6. GTaylor

    06/22/2011 at 9:35 pm

    When the big wave came iPod, iPhone, and iPad had a good half of the space here and in the rest of the media when ownership of those products was still under 5%. Figures to that effect can be found in articles on GBM. Even today accessories for general products in those categories are still advertised as “For iFad” even though they will work just fine for the competitor’s products. Original articles pointing this out are nowhere near as common as geeky blurbs ‘reviewing’ geeky items. Call it what you want. Traffic does not equal ownership, I know.

    I’ve been using an M1400 slate (sometimes with a keyboard, schocker!) for 6 years now, in spite of Motion’s pitiful support. It still works although an HP iPaq 211 (that name was registered 6 months before the similar one from Apple) fills in nicely when the three pound M1400 turns me into a crybaby.

    GottaBeMobile has done a commendable job trying to keep pressure on the walls of The Big M when it comes to tablet, and tablet means inking, computing. But those walls are thick. Take heart, in E. Germany they used to have a saying for pointless protesting against the regime; “Go write it on the wall”. They meant the Berlin wall and you could only write it on the W. German side. Who was going to see it? Now what happened to that wall?

    Perhaps editing requires imagination more so than writing. I get accused often enough about not staying on the level of the topic but broading the conversation beyond the intended scope (too bad Sumocat). But in my view the tablet pc and GottaBeMobile were uniquely positioned to point out that instant of time when the providers of all our cool stuff diverted from supplying neat stuff to help us do our thing and instead began trying to get us to go for the wrong choice in this game of 3+card Monty. From time to time you still point out the nature of the game
    Keep trying, please to inform your readership and influence the marketplace. Your job will never be easy, but you will feel good about some principle or another…..

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