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Can We Stop Calling Upcoming Tablets Tablet? Now. Please.



tc1100-20080712-141445Apple Tablets, Dell Tablets, Crunchpad Tablets. Tablets, Tablets, Tablets. Rumors. Rumors. Rumors. We have more rumors about more Tablets everyday now it seems. The rumors have become so plentiful that they have become like currency, so much so that they are sparking posts and commentary about why we do and why we don’t need them, why they will be the second coming, and why they will flop. Heck there are even some slapping the word Tablet on the Amazon Kindle and the Plastic Logic e-Reader scheduled for next year. Matt Miller thinks Tablets suck, but then he also likes the mysteries and impenetrable mazes that are Nokia phones, so as I’ve always said to each his own.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for seeing the rumors come to life. (Well, except for that Dell rumor. That device with its small screen size seems odd to me. ) But I think we’ve got too much confusion centered around the word Tablet. Although we don’t really know what these devices will or will not do, (except for some details on the Crunchpad) some are thinking that the rumored Tablets will have the functionality that Tablet PCs tried to bring to market. I don’t believe it will even be close to that. These devices are going to be consumption devices for web surfing and playing music, games, video, and the other distractions from life that we all enjoy. Yeah, you’ll be able to send some emails back and forth, and yeah, you’ll be able to peruse documents from the web. But call me a purist, these devices won’t be Tablets in anyway.

tablet-2-frontback-jpeg-image-1479x989-pixels-scaled-76I’m not suggesting we de-tabletize the rumored tablets because I’m some kind of purist or die-hard Tablet PC fanboy. I’m suggesting this because the current trend is just going to continue to create confusion, and the minute somebody finds a real flaw in a real product that actually gets shipped we are going to see headlines that scream Tablets fail again. My beef is simple, the Tablet form factor (in very broad terms) is an excellent one for a lot of reasons with or without Inking. With Inking, for those of us who actually like the simplicity of scribbling out a note and having it instantly searchable for later retrieval they can be a dream. Without Inking, a 10 inch screen can be a wonderful window into whatever you choose to view or display, that doesn’t require you to change your prescription for eye glasses every six months. Of course that’s my one man’s opinion and that and a $1.25 might get you a cup of coffee.

What I don’t want to see, and what I will bet money that we will see once the criticism starts, is that the moniker of Tablet will get another black eye to go with the one that Microsoft’s Tablet PCs still wears to this day and to its shame. As you can tell, I’m a big believer in the from factor in all its permutations. I’d just like to see it finally take off whether or not we are using it to play around on our couches or get any real work done.



  1. Sumocat

    08/04/2009 at 9:51 am

    I think Loren Heiny nailed the terminology when he called this the year of the slate. “Slate” aptly describes a single-piece device with a screen. Doesn’t even need a touchscreen, so eReaders like the Kindle qualify.

    That said, I’m looking very positively at the current tablet craze and embrace the broader use of the term. I think the tablet form factor works better for consumption devices and appliances and will pull in many users. Eventually, I believe we’ll see users “graduate” to Tablet PCs to keep touchscreen interface in their general computing.

  2. SAM

    08/04/2009 at 11:06 am

    I can see into my cystal ball into the future:
    One will have a roll up scroll tablet. (ala Mission to Mars)
    You unroll it to the desired size you need,
    an operating system screen automatically adjusts
    to the size you unfurl and away you go…
    pocketable, waterproof, shockproof, lightweight,
    adjustable resolution, 2D/3D color screen
    all your files at your fingertips.
    Maybe you can even tie it up with one of those cool wax seals

  3. GoodThings2Life

    08/04/2009 at 11:35 am

    Warner… two things…

    1) I completely agree with you!

    2) Where the heck are you still getting coffee for $1.25?! Because it’s not Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks! LOL! (OK, joking on this point.)

  4. Loren Heiny

    08/04/2009 at 12:25 pm

    I agree that people calling these devices “tablets” is causing quite of few people to think that there’s handwriting support and the like. What’s interesting to me is how it wasn’t popular to use the term “tablet” until Apple consumers started calling Apple’s unseen–yet highly desired–prototypes “tablets.” Now it seems everyone wants to get in on the tablet name game.

    What’s funny about this is just think back a couple of years when the UMPCs came out. Were they called “tablets?” What about MIDs? Only now are we hearing the tablet name.

    To me these are all slates. By the way, I’d also like to see some digital cameras join the slate category as connected “smartcameras” that are a mix between camera and programmable computer.

    We would then have one more class of “tablets” :-)

  5. Michael Penman

    08/05/2009 at 1:29 am

    Look the masses have to be fed. Whatever you give them they will eat, just look at mainstream news, gas guzzingly suv’s. Bottomline, I think tablet pc has failed simply because manufacturer’s have not wanted to get behind the form factor. The keyboard form factor dominates not because it is better, but because it is a tried and true product for manufacturers and they got the price point down pat, and the downline of parts system set up; switching to a tablet pc dominated market would be a hassle albeit not a major one, but one nonetheless. I mean come on does anyone honestly think that if manufacturers stopped making staid laptops altogether, and turned all laptops into convertible tablets with a keyboard, that after a year or two anybody would be clamoring for the old laptops without the added tablet functionality to it? Maybe a handful of purists, but the majority of people would embrace the added value.
    I look at tablet pc’s like hybrid or electric cars. It is what is best for the consumer, for the world, screw the price point. I am just saying in a few years the hybrid model will dominate the American new car market, not because the American consumer is clamoring for hybrid cars, but because that is what the manufacturers will be producing. If electronics manufacturers were putting out mostly convertible tablets and slowly phasing out laptops, the tablet pc would be the dominant form factor in a couple years with no more resistance than the smaller hybrid model car will meet.
    Make them make tablet pc’s and watch the masses eat at the trough.

  6. Achim

    08/05/2009 at 8:20 am

    Thanks for the article, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been thinking about that problem ever since the Gigabyte M912 came out with XP Home Edition. Without the pen input and the handwriting, is it still a tablet pc? I rather like to refer to it as a touch netbook. Same thing with the new tablets/slates…

  7. Dave Digerati

    08/06/2009 at 10:51 am

    Totally agreed, more people need to be raising their voices that these devices are NOT tablets.

    Personally I prefer ‘pad’ as I have been reading about them in sci-fi books for decades, and I was a huge Newton MessagePad fan. Slate always makes me think of the stone-age and rhymes with ‘hate’, whereas ‘pad’ is inviting and relaxing, just like I am hoping the devices turn out to be!

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