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iSlate, iTablet, I look back

iSlate, iTablet, I look back

There is no hiding from the wave of rumour and speculation on an upcoming Apple tablet release. The tablet is back, I say back as I’ve owned six tablets over the last fifteen years. Microsoft have offered a tablet based operating system for quite sometime, their Onenote application being a perfect companion to the tabletpc platform.

Ten years ago local computer retails stocked a variety of tabletpcs from slates with additional keyboards, hybrids with rotating screens and all in various shapes and sizes. They didn’t last long.

Over priced with the empty promise of revolutionising the way we worked in business and education the devices they just didn’t take off. The problem with previous devices was they were just too much effort, handwriting tended to be awful, recognition unreliable and battery life a challenge.

The image above shows the TC1100, I owned the 1000 and the 1100 it too had and SD card slot now recently added to Macbooks perhaps the technology was ahead of its time but the additional keyboard, cases all added to the already expensive device.


For a year I forced myself to try and take notes in meetings using the Compaq slate using Microsoft Onenote. The problem was syncronising with my desktop machine meant using offline folders and more often than not it just didn’t work. I ended up spending more time working with the technology than the technology working for me.

I gave up. The reality is it ended up a smaller form factor laptop with the addition of a pen and like other users I was offered the choice of a tablet feature or a larger screen at a much lower price, the result being the tablet entered extinction.

Perhaps the problem was the tablet tried to align itself with power of a PC rather than a mobile device and if the rumours are true upcoming devices will firmly sit in the mobility market akin to an iPhone rather than a Macbook.

Regardless the tablet returns billed as a revolutionary new device sitting somewhere between the iPhone and a laptop it is yet again billed to revolutionise how we work and live but will it ?

I’m still unsure. If I want to work or use the Internet I have the Macbook for mobility I have the Iphone so I am left struggling as to the role of the tablet in everyday life. In my mind the release of revolutionary devices such as the iPhone meant the middle ground between phones and laptops became less defined or important. The 13″; Macbook is a already ultra portable and if I can’t be bothered carrying it around my iPhone fills the gap perfectly.

One technological advance that is sure to help the tablet is cloud computing. Take notes in a meeting sync with MobileMe (which I think will have a big role in the Apple slate) and you can access them pretty much instantly back at base.

The problem for me is….. What will if offer that a combination of iPhone and laptop doesn’t ? Will it fail like previous devices ?

Chances are I will be able to tell you in a year as despite my doubts on the role of such a device I will probably still bite. The big question are you tempted ?

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