With all the iFad going around, I keep thinking about the ideal tablet PC. What are the features I would need and like to use all day and which would make me retire my laptop?
- Open platform: Above all I would like a generic PC which could easily run Linux or Windows OS, provided it has appropriate drivers. It would then be (relatively) trivial to develop a front-end similar to the one on iPad for less experienced user, and I believe that it might become a new rage among the developer – to develop front ends for various purposes. So we could have a education-oriented frontend, a retail frontend, an entertainment frontend, a business-specific frontend etc.
- Connectivity: It has to include all the important wireless connectivity options – today it would include wi-fi as the base, and optionally Bluetooth and/or HSUPA modem. USB 3.0 should be a standard, but there is no need for more than one or at most two connectors (see the next item why).
- Expandability: I’ve heard that iPad has too few expansion options and connectors, while there is too many gadgets and adaptors. I generally agree with the latter assertion, but not with the former – if you need to be able to connect a dozen USB appliances, a wired network and a kitchen sink all the time, you don’t really need a tablet, you need a desktop PC. I would use the tablet the same way I’m using my laptop: moving it between a couple places where I have all the necessary infrastructure (printers, monitors, scanners, power etc), while using it occasionally in the wild, with no additional options, as necessary. This means that I want it to be as light as possible when moving around, while having all the possible options when stationary, and the latter is easily achieved with a docking station so common for laptops. (A colleague of mine states that if he could connect his iPhone to a keyboard and a large monitor, he would need no other computer.)
- Options: Ideally, tablet PCs should come in all sizes and equipment options, from different makers. That way the manufacturers would be able to segment the market in more detail, as the time of general-purpose PCs for general audience has long gone. Similar – but even more accentuated – to what we have in laptops today, there would be medium-sized tablets with basic features aimed at general workers; large widescreen portable entertainment centers with built-in BlueRay drives and Wiimote controllers; specialized tablets for artists, coming in various sizes and featuring pens and appropriate software (essentially, imagine cramming a PC into a Cintiq); all the way down to small, pocket-sized units which could, with a stretch, be called mobile phones. The borders between mobile and PC computing would become quite blurred, and the only differentiation would be by the way of the screen size and processor power.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one… 😉