Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Year of the Tablet Computer

There is no denying the fact that we have become a touch-centric society in regards to our technology. Thanks to the "iPhone standard" every new handheld device better sport at least some form of touch screen if it expects to compete with the competition. Where is our technology headed though? With the idea of "bigger is better" in mind: if a 3.5~ inch touch screen is good a larger screen must better right?

Apple announced their "iPad" earlier this year.
With a revolutionary device such as the iPhone already under their belt, can Apple hope to dominate the tablet computer market in the same way that they have crushed the smart phone market in recent years? Initial signs point to no. Sure, there is going to be that collective of die hard Mac users that flock to the latest shiny product Apple releases and buy the iPad the day it releases, however consider the following about the iPad:
  • Like iAnything, the iPad is going to have a locked amount of internal storage
  • It lacks USB ports, meaning you can't really connect anything useful to it
  • It lacks flash support. Meaning a large portion of the web will not function on it
  • I could go on...
With the iPad apparently set to fail to satisfy our touch-technology needs from the start: Where is one to turn when looking for a tablet computer in 2010? There is of course long term contender in the tablet PC market the touch screen laptop. At this point such devices, while functional, are far from being anything "special" or "revolutionary".
Slightly more recent is the hybrid of last year's craze the netbook and what is bound to be a theme for this year the tablet computer found in Asus's EEE T91.

Next: Enter the latest addition to the touchscreen devices set to da-beau in 2010: MeeGo. In a joint effort between the Intel and Nokia companies. MeeGo, a Linux based operating system, is going to be targeted at both ARM and x86 based devices (despite the former of the two not being made by Intel). While MeeGo is still in the very preliminary stages of development, other Linux-based touchscreen-orientated operating systems, such as Android and Maemo, have shown us that the Linux platform is more than capable of functioning on such devices in an elegant manner. With backing from such large companies MeeGo is going to be hard-pressed to not get at least some publicity.

Speaking of Android - the Notion Ink ADAM contains some of the most impressive tablet computer specs we have seen thus far. If the initial announcements are held true over the course of development, then this little tablet computer might just be that "revolutionary" tablet the world is looking for. The first set of tech specs boast:
  • HDMI Output
  • 3 USB Ports
  • 16 hours video playback
  • Adobe Flash (thank god)
  • Camera
  • And More
While it isn't official which operating system will be shipping with the device when it finally goes to market - there is a tech demo video of the device, found here, running what is said to be "a wrapper around Android". Other mentioned operating systems that might be possible to run on the device include Google's Chrome OS and Ubuntu ARM.

Finally I would like to mention the product I think should end up being the clear winner in the "tablet-orientated" marketplace in 2010:

Now with the hype have I just given the ADAM you might be thinking "What makes the U1 so special/interesting/unique?" Simple:

The U1 is two computers in one.

In addition to being a fully functional 11.6 inch touchscreen laptop sporting an Intel Core 2 processor, two gigs of RAM, and a 128gig SDD the U1's touchscreen is detachable. When detached from the computer the tablet-screen contains it's own 1ghz snapdragon ARM processor, RAM, and 16gig SSD. When in "laptop" mode the system by default runs Windows 7 and when the screen is detached the tablet-screen runs Lenovo's Skylight Linux. Both computers contain their own batteries (which are each rated at five hours duration), and each of the computers are fully functional without the other (if you hook the laptop base up to an external monitor of course, because naturally while tablet-screen is detached the laptop is missing it's screen).

Needless to say there is not going to be any lack of tablet computers on the market in 2010. Another point I feel worth noting is that a majority of the devices listed here are running various forms of Linux (Just like many of the smart phones being released recently). So while 2010 might not end up being the year of "desktop" Linux, with the flood of penguin-powered touch screen devices it may still be the year Linux makes it's way into countless homes.

I have just highlighted some of the top competitors for upcoming tablet computers I have come across/researched thus far. Know of any other upcoming tablet computer releases (or perhaps one that is already released)? Drop a comment to let me know about it.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. on the Tablets market it's not about Hardware, if it was only about Hardware, MS be leading the Tablet-market right now.
    As long as no other can deliver the User-Experience that Apple deliver, apple gonna rule. It's not about Apple-Fanboys, here in there's a lot of People using iPhone not because they're fangirls and boy, but because they get a great UX. We should stop only accusing that the People that buy Apple products are fangirls & boy, it's time to start analyzing how OSS can deliver a better UX.
    A great example are App Stores; we have "App store" long ago, but we were not able to make it standard! that's sucks!

  2. There is no arguing that the iPhone has a good user experience - thats why it currently dominates the smart phone market. However tablet computers are not smart phones - and it is foolish to assume people just want a giant iTouch for a tablet pc. With the iPad lacking so many basic features, I think other tablets such as the ADAM or Lenovo's U1 are going to be a better choice functionality wise.

    In the end only time will tell.

  3. Why mention the U1 and not the TouchBook, which is already available?

  4. Your comment here is the first time I have seen the TouchBook, very interesting device. While the price is good my only complaint would be that it really lacks the power most netbooks have. For instance it contains the same processor that is in my N900 - so not nearly as powerful as say the Atom chip in my Asus EEE PC.

  5. Yeah I am wondering so many gadgtes has been released this year such as Slate, Tablet, iPad(going to be release). The iPad will be popular. It's a fun gadget that while some will never buy many who buy iphones or ipod touches will like the idea of alot more screen size. It may lead a tablet movement, but not in the end own it. If dell or whomever can manage to make a attractive looking tablet(on par with the iPad looks wise) then it could work. And not with Android. I wanna see a windows 7 tablet. With perhaps a modified UI that would appeal to a tablet's stengths. A tablet with a real OS would and could gain real purpose in the market.

  6. Thanks for info !