We’re seeing videos of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Toshiba Folio 100, the Viewsonic Viewpad, and other Tablets breaking out at IFA. And this is just the beginning of the “coming any day now Tablet/Slate tsunami” that is going to wash over us all and make us forget the iPad. More is sure to come. Unless you believe this analyst and some of the things I’ve written here before.
That said, tell me this isn’t you Tablet/Slate lover. You watch the videos closely. You scrutinize every instance of a finger touching a screen looking for any hint of a delay in whatever that touch is supposed to initiate. You scan the screen, eagerly waiting for some scrolling action to see how much lag there might be. Come on, admit it. You do it. I do it. We all do it. We’re all hoping and praying that the Galaxy Tab or some other yet to be named Tablet/Slate is going to have the magic of multi-touch nailed down solid (or is that fluid?) and that we’ll see something that can compare favorably to the iPad and its ease of use.
Tonight, while having dinner at Denny’s, it hit me. How our digits relate to those touch screens is going to be the big key to any of these future Tablet/Slates being accepted. Apple set a high bar there, as they did with battery life and the App ecosystem it has going. All of that is going to be tough to beat. But, I’m betting the all day battery life will be overlooked if they can hit something close to 7 hours. The App ecosystem might be passed by as well, if a licensed version of Android is used allowing the Marketplace to work. What won’t be overlooked is the pinky test.
The pinky test you say? Yep. That’s where Denny’s comes in. I frequently grab a quick meal at a quick restaurant on my way to and fro. I take the iPad along for some reading. Since my eating habits aren’t the best and I prefer a good burger with a side of fries now and then, one of the things that is very important to me about using the iPad as a consumption device is being able to scroll the screen or tap for an action without getting much grease on the screen. It’s just no fun to have to reach for your napkin every time you want to turn a page. Tablets get dirty sure, but there’s no fun in seeing grease from your lunch on the screen a few hours later. That’s were the pinky test is important.
Remember that supposed societal appropriate behavior about holding a tea cup where your pinky is supposed to stay extended? I think it’s called “when in doubt, pinky out.” That was apparently the good manners approach. Well the iPad lives up to the “pinky out” test as far as I can tell. I can grab a big old burger or a fist full of fries, keep my pinky extended and manipulate the iPad just fine. I do this all the time. I didn’t realize it until tonight when I was having my dinner and doing some reading. If these new Tablet/Slates are going to stand a chance, they are going to create an experience that requires no more than that deft touch of the screen, regardless of how you fell about the manners thing.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, Apple can deliver that experience (and many others) in its Apple Stores. I’ve seen potential iPad users try the device out for the fist time and be impressed with how easily the touch UI works. But for those who might do comparison shopping at Best Buy or some other retailer this Christmas season, the Tablet/Slates they find on those shelves need to measure up on that front. Face it, you don’t discover the other potential issues until much later, but touching the screen is what it is all about.
I don’t know about you, but I’m anxious to see how well these Tablet/Slates survive the pinky test. So for all you bloggers attending IFA (Sascha, Chippy, jkkmobile, and the rest) get those pinkys out and let us know how these new Tablet/Slates do.
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