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Windows 7 Slate vs. iPad on Video, What Will Consumers Choose?



Here’s a quick video comparing the Windows 7 experience on a consumer slate to the iPad. The slate in question is the Hanvon slate we first spotted at IDF 2009, which means Hanvon must’ve worked extra hard (maybe time traveled) to mimic the iPad’s design (I kid).

Anyways, it’s not a surprise that the Hanvon slate can keep up with the iPad when it comes to tasks like watching YouTube videos, web browsing or tapping out email. The big difference between the two user experiences demonstrated in the video is that everything on the iPad is designed specifically for touch, while the Windows 7 UI was designed for mice. Yes, the touch keyboard and touch interface of Windows 7 works, but as you can see in the video it is a pain to make small selections. Of course, the Windows 7 slate has true multi-tasking and can run full-featured applications. It also has a camera and a full selection of port, which means some users could use it as their only mobile device since there’s no sync required and peripherals can be plugged in.

But in their current form, Windows 7 consumer slates aren’t competitive with the iPad, at least in the eyes of  Joe consumer. Battery life on the iPad is incredible, it wakes instantly and every app is built with touch in mind. Are there things to dislike about the iPad? Sure, lots of them, but it’s good enough and simple enough for the average user to dive right into.

Consumers buying slates and iPads this year are typically buying their first such device. Moving from a clamshell notebook or desktop to a slate can be a big jump. And for now, Apple has another huge advantage- its retail stores. On any given day countless first-time iPad owners are trained on how to use their new devices. These free training sessions are why this group of iPad owners are smiling, rather than becoming frustrated, calling customer support and returning their devices.

Us geeks forget that there are still a lot of folks out there that need (or want) to be trained on how to perform what we consider simple tasks, such as organizing photos, setting up email accounts and calendars.

It’ll be very interesting to see what (or if) HP and other Microsoft partners launch later this year. Whatever it is, they have some serious catching up to do, at least in the eye of the consumer.

What do you think? Will consumers pick a Windows 7 slate given the choice between it and the iPad?

video via SlashGear



  1. Quentin Dewolf

    08/06/2010 at 10:23 am

    the real question is do consumers want a tablet long term and what do they want to use it for. the ipad/android tablet is really a media consumption device w/some email whereas a windows tablet has that and creation tools. are there enough people wanting to create or are devices really just for music, video, web playing?
    By the way none of these devices are truly competitive in the game playing space yet. how will that play out?

    • Nameless

      08/06/2010 at 11:29 am

      I’m mostly in agreement.

      By “creation tools”, I’m thinking OneNote, Photoshop, and so forth. Perhaps even things like AutoCAD or 3ds max/Maya/Softimage/Lightwave/modo/Blender/etc., though those probably won’t work too well outside of the convertible form factor.

      If you’re talking games…that’s not really what tablets are for. They could work very well for board games (if the screen is large enough), games that involve drawing lines or shapes (Crayon Physics, Flight Control, etc.), typical PopCap fare (as Plants vs. Zombies proves), and anything else that doesn’t require fast reflexes (strategy JRPGs come to mind), but anything action-oriented that DOES require good reflexes and timing simply does not belong on something without a D-Pad and face buttons at the very least.

      That is why I have a GBA SP, DS, and PSP-2000 now, and probably will get the 3DS in the future. Game library aside, they have the controls.

      (As for the Windows Tablet PC side of the equation, there’s Crayon Physics Deluxe, World of Goo, Aquaria with a replaced SDL.dll, and…not much else that justifies the Wacom pen, save for point-and-click adventures. Everything except the HP tm2 being saddled with integrated or horribly outdated dedicated graphics along with slower ULV CPUs doesn’t help things much for traditional PC games, and even there, you’d have to attach a separate keyboard and mouse if it’s a slate.)

    • dstrauss

      08/06/2010 at 12:16 pm

      If I hear one more person saying “The ipad/android tablet is really a media consumption device w/some email whereas a windows tablet has that and creation tools.” I think I’m going to scream. EVERYONE still saying that has never even used an iPad. First, if you think you will be able to create text or other data based information on a Windows tablet then you have no idea how bad input is on one of those devices without a bluetooth keyboard. Second, and more important, with the addition of just $33 worth of software:

      DocsToGo Premium 14.99
      iAnnotate PDF 9.99
      Note Taker HD 4.99
      Dropbox (Free)
      Goodreader 0.99
      FileBrowser 2.99

      you have a full netbook replacement in 1.5 lbs. If you’re in the Apple camp, it will cost another $15 to replace DocsToGo with Pages/Numbers/Keynote. That cherished content creating Windows slate (which really doesn’t exist even now) will set you back $149 for a basic copy of MS Office, WITHOUT the ability to annotate PDF’s.

      I have been a Microsoft OS user since DOS 2.1 in 1986, and Windows since Windows 386 (all the way up to Win 7 Professional today). There has never been a light-weight, full featured OS ultraportable like the iPad until now. I currently own an HP 2730p with all the trimmings, including OneNote 2007 and Bluebeam for PDF’s. Yes, it is vastly more powerful than my iPad, but vastly less “useful” in practical ways. The iPad is instant on, no setting to fiddle with – just start taking notes in Note Taker HD or Noterize. Are these as powerful as OneNote (handwriting recognition; searchable notes) – no. But in just two selections I can automatically send my notes in an email, as a PDF attachment, to my assistant for either printing for teh hard copy file or saving on the server.

      The one thing the “media consumption only” crowd, and I believe Microsoft and the Windows Slate crowd are all missing, is that every day a developer extends the capabilities of the ipad, or closes another gap in its functionality. Witness FileBrowser, that does what was said could never be done on an iPad – browse your network drives to view and open files in their native folders. Note Taker HD gives a very good inking experience thanks to the hard work of Dan Bricklin – that’s right, the same Dan Bricklin who co-developed Visicalc (for you youngins out there – THE original killer app that started the personal computing era with a real spreadsheet – long before Lotus 123 and Excel).

      All of this, with a 10+ hour battery life and the vastly superior content consumption it is derisively relegated to by its critics. Just like Ballmer laughed off the original iPhone on the Today show three years ago, supporters of WinSlates are doing the same at the peril of their chosen platform. Why on heavens green earth do you think Dell went with Android (Streak), HP with WebOS (rlegating the WinSlate to enterprise only delivery sometime by year end) and Lenovo pulled its convertable notebook? It’s called “wake up and smell the roses.”

      • MP

        08/06/2010 at 1:24 pm

        I speak as an iPad owner, and I’ll say it is a great media consumption device and a lousy creation device.

        I was recently at a conference of about 70 techies and a smattering of administrators. Thirty or so of the attendees had iPads and used them for very rudimentary note-taking during round tables, etc. Mostly, though they were looking things up, not “typing” notes or, if they were, just quick notes and nothing extensive.

        Very telling was a plenary session we had where we were experimenting using Web 2.0 tools to collaborate as a large group. Without exaggeration, I can tell you that within 5 minutes, every iPad was put away (everyone who had one started with it), and the notebooks were out. No one could be productive with their iPad, even the most wild-eyed Apple devotee (of which there are many in that group). No one. Period. They couldn’t adequately create content. Period.

      • ChrisRS

        08/06/2010 at 2:00 pm

        If this is a secondary computer, use of Office is generally free. (Office license allows for use on a primary computer and a home computer or laptop.) Office home and Student 3 pack comes out to about $50 per comnputer, Student Ultimate Steal is $79 for Office Ultimae and $29 for Win 7 Professional.

        Right now, there are no “tablets” for Windows developers to develop for, thus no apps. “If you build it, apps will come.”

        In the past, ther have been thousands of DOS and Windows 3rd party applications and utilities (apps?) that filled gaps. Many of these have been absorbed into the OS or the programs they fixed. The same will happen with windows tablets and to some extent to the iPad apps. Id there are dozens or hundreds of iPad apps that do the same thing, and have a high demand, it would make sence for Apple to standardize and incorporate them into the OS. (I suspect they will skip over the iFart apps.)

        Regarding the non-touch optimized Win 7 interface: Touch overlays will flourish – after there are tablets to work with. Tweak UI, Widgets, Skins, Lachers etc., are all possible and will build on the solid foundations of the programs that need to be more touch friendly.

        I am not an iPad user; I think many of the “gaps filler” apps will be seen as “work arounds” when more capable Windows tablets are available. Time will tell.

    • dstrauss

      08/06/2010 at 3:34 pm

      All of you are making valid points – but again from the point of view of us “geeks” who have stuck with the Tablet PC – rough edges or not. And RJ, we’ll jus thave to agree to disagree on whether the iPad is horrid for content creation. I personally think this is exactly the same as the release of the SDK for the first iPhone – we won’t believe what the developers can do with this device. Cook in task switching this fall (I hesitate to call it multi-tasking for fear of more reprisals) and the utility of the iPad will step up several more notches.

      I am not an Apple fanboy by any means (I tried to like the MacBook in a Windows Server environment and just couldn’t make it work) but the iPad is the digital “yellow pad/Daytimer” I’ve been desparately waiting for. When Apple finally brings wireless syncing to the table, it will be a perfect adjunct to your notebook or desktop – and my bet is by tehn Bricklin and others will ahve truly serviceable inking to boot. I’ve got to believe that the active digitizer on our Tablets is just another stake in the battery’s heart. And to even stretch to 7 hours on my HP 2730p, I need the battery slice which makes it three times he size and weight of my iPad.

      Good luck guys on your quest for a Windows 7 slate…maybe with Pinetrail and three more interations of Win7 it will be serviceable by 2012.

  2. JOE H

    08/06/2010 at 11:02 am

    Your point about the retail stores is spot on and one that the gadget-obsessed who tend to write about these things on the internet have overlooked. I propose that apple’s #1 or #2 advantage is the retail stores – people can get hands on, with knowledgeable staff and coaching and training available. They make learning their product easy on a social level more than the OS level (they get a lot of credit for the OS level, but my experience is that ‘intuitive Apple’ means ‘you’re holding it wrong’ if it isn’t intuitive to you).

    Wasn’t MSFT going to try retail stores?

    • Philip Seyfi

      08/06/2010 at 12:29 pm

      They have retail stores already… Just not as many as Apple.

  3. Tamas

    08/06/2010 at 11:06 am

    I agree with Quentin.
    As long as slates are marketed as media consumer devices it is difficult to compete with the Ipad.
    Give a slate with handwrite recognition to students, engineers, scientists and with strong software support and people will soon forget the currently all wonderful Ipad ;).

  4. GoodThings2Life

    08/06/2010 at 12:07 pm

    I’m growing less and less concerned and interested with comparing these devices… I see them filling two styles of usage– consumption and creation. The iPad is geared towards consumption, clearly. And although many app developers are allowing creation, it’s not what iPad users are doing in a dominant situation. For creation, they want compatible and familiar, and the Windows slates not only allow it and add flexibility.

    • dstrauss

      08/06/2010 at 12:21 pm

      I’d bet a small fortune that one year from today, Windows slates will still be selling less units per year, in the aggregate, than Apple is selling iPads on a monthly basis (see my overly long reply above above content creation on an iPad – you are all missing the boat on its flexibility and adaptability). The consumption experience will continue to be superior, and users will discover that creation tools are likewise.

  5. aftermath

    08/06/2010 at 12:26 pm

    I think Quentin wins the prize today: “the real question is do consumers want a tablet long term”

    I think half of the boys that I grew up with had a poster of the Lamborghini Countach hanging up in their bedrooms (although I didn’t). It was an awesome looking, very rebelliously styled supercar. Because we were little boys, what we didn’t know is that they were actually pretty awful to own and drive. I’ve since been in one of the vintage that my friends pined over, and it was totally insufferable in every possible way: great to look at from the outside, awful to operate from the inside, and totally impracticable. I think that the current appeal of the slate form factor has the same thing going: intrigue by way of unfamiliarity. Slates, especially touchscreen slates, especially ones running a trimmed down OS, are pretty terrible devices with the exception of some very specialized applications. Even though slates have been around for a long, long time, most consumers are just discovering them. They think that they’re new and that Apple invented them (hooray of the educated consumer). I think that most of us in the tablet community have already discovered the “dirty little secret” about touchscreen slates: they are sort of irrelevant. The difference between a plain phone and a smartphone is striking. There’s a lot more that you can do with a smartphone, assuming that the things that you can do with a smartphone are actually things that you want/need to do with your phone. The difference between a tablet PC and an ordinary laptop is striking. There’s a lot more that you can do with a tablet PC, assuming that the things that you can do with a tablet PC are actually things that you need/want to do with your mobile computer. However, a large touchscreen slate has almost no advantage over any other device. It can’t do much more than a phone because of the OS, and it can do much less than comparably sized devices, because of the OS. People are just experimenting right now with their little touchscreen slates, and if you look at the second-hand market like Craig’s List and Ebay there’s evidence that people staying into it.

    Beyond that, am I the only person who is getting a little sick of everybody trying to compare one brand’s ARM-based touchscreen slate running a mobile OS to another brand’s tablet OS running on x86 compatible hardware? If you want to compare ARM-based touchscreen slates running mobile OSes to each other, then do it. If you want to compare full OSes running on more powerful hardware to each other, then do it. If anything, you’re doing consumers a great disservice by even pretending like they’re comparable. They are very, very different.

    • Xavier Lanier

      08/06/2010 at 12:59 pm

      I agree, they are different. But, the OS, processor, etc. that us geeks pay attention to are of no concern to consumers shopping at Best Buy. Yes, most GBM readers can clearly differentiate between the two, but Joe consumer walking through the Best Buy aisles is going to compare any slate on the shelf to the iPad- x86 or not.

      • Quentin Dewolf

        08/06/2010 at 3:43 pm

        the comparisson between the geeky side (processor, ram, os) equates to the use comparison for the consumer. Will consumers carry phone, tablet, laptop or will there be some convergence or disapearance?

  6. MP

    08/06/2010 at 1:30 pm

    In spite of my disagreement with dstrauss above, he makes some solid points. This one in particular:

    “The one thing the “media consumption only” crowd, and I believe Microsoft and the Windows Slate crowd are all missing, is that every day a developer extends the capabilities of the ipad, or closes another gap in its functionality.”

    I think there are two main reasons that Microsoft has not totally defined and owned the tablet market a long time ago. They abandoned any significant development of the operating system itself, and they didn’t line up developers (including the Office team, outside of the OneNote group) to commit to developing apps to extend the capabilties. The Tablet PC OS is powerful and functional but even after nearly 10 years, is still rough around the edges.

    MS is certainly capable of understanding and developing for alternative input mechanisms. Witness the Surface and what they are doing with Windows Phone 7. They just never gave the same consideration to the pen–to everyone’s detriment.

  7. RJ

    08/06/2010 at 2:54 pm

    As an Ipad and a Tablet PC user, the Ipad is great for consumption, but horrible for creation.

    I use my tablet PC primarily for art. And although the Ipad has alot of apps designed for art creation such as artstudio, sketchbook pro, brushes,etc…not a single one can even come close to Photoshop or Painter. More so from the app/hardware limitations but any piece of art done on the Ipad could easily be done in far less time and with better results on a wacom penabled tablet PC. And the pogo stylus is just dreadful to use.

    And even outside of art, typing on the thing is pretty horrid too. The Ipads on screen keyboard has no directional buttons, and since your lack the accuracy of a digitizer and a pen nib, its really annoying when you have to go back and correct text. And when typing replies to forums, its surprisingly very easy to unintentionally click outside the keyboard area and refresh the page or accidentally hit a link which will wipe out any text you were trying to type.

    Now if you want to only interact a tiny bit and sign a PDF, then thats easy enough, but for anything serious the Ipad is just too ill equipped.

  8. RJ

    08/06/2010 at 3:06 pm

    I have to say though I think the video comparison is unfair.

    They’re comparing a full operating system to a beefed up smart phone os. Things like google earth are of course going to look better on the Ipad because many sites are optimized for Ipad/Iphone use. Where as the Windows 7 tablet is running all the sites exactly how a regular computer would, but just on smaller screen, and given the aspect ratio of the screen, of course they look worse. But even despite that, notice just how much quicker the you tube video loaded on the windows machine.

  9. Warner Crocker

    08/07/2010 at 8:56 am

    Two points I’d like to make here in this discussion.

    1. Broad consumer appeal will be more about how the user experience works and less about processors, full computers, etc… Most consumers will care less about specs and more about how simple/not simple things work.

    2. That means the real key is going to be the retail experience for many. Apple (at the moment) has a leg up here with its Apple Stores. If Microsoft (HP, etc…) and partners can’t change the hands on shopping experience with traditional retail partners they will be behind the curve when it comes to testing out the user experience at the hands on point of purchase for some. Those who order online will be using reviews, videos, etc… to judge the user experience, and that is a tough gauntlet to run as we all know.

  10. Sumocat

    08/09/2010 at 9:41 am

    There seems to be an obvious point here that is being overlooked: consumers consume. Do consumers want a device that is primarily for content consumption? By definition, yes. Producers and so-called “prosumers” overlap with this market, but by and large, the consumer market are regular consumers, i.e., those who consume, and they vastly outnumber those who produce.

    • Xavier Lanier

      08/09/2010 at 9:51 am

      very obvious, but easy to overlook if you’re a geek.

  11. Mark Mille

    08/09/2010 at 5:29 pm

    Not really impressed with this video. The key reason is that Windows 7 just with a standard installation (not optimized) is going to perform like crap much like Apple’s would. Plus, there is no mention of the hardware spec’s of the devices for comparison. Are you trying to tell us that just because they both have screens that it is a fair comparison?

    This comparison was clearly slanted Apple’s way. And, just for full disclosure, I own an iPad and an iPhone.

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