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Thinking Useful Tablets

So everyone is tablet obsessed at the moment, in the sense that they’re either loving or hating all the hype on the topic at the moment. Sitting on the plane waiting the other day I got to thinking about what I’d like in a tablet. I will admit that I’m an Apple fanboy but this isn’t about their rumoured device.

I guess we’re coming from the notion of previous tablet computers that were really just variants on laptops and the inspiration of e-reader devices like the Kindle and so on. The e-readers have changed the usage landscape and we’ve seen the functional capabilities of netbook devices so the natural progression is how the compact processing power of the netbook can combine with the convenient form-factor of the e-reader that is ‘just-so’ functionally. We’re not looking for a complete computing device replacement but we probably do want a bit more than an e-reader offers. So this is what I came up with for my ideal device: I want a 10 inch touch screen – I know this makes it less portable but when I think of what I would want to display I can’t see a smaller screen doing the job. I want to be able to view technical manuals on this so that I can have the feel of flipping through a reference manual while I’m working on something. I also want to be able to ‘scribble’ notes though I say scribble quite loosely – I really don’t want a stylus. Why bother? Dragon Dictation on the iPhone has shown that we have the technology in the right form factor for dictation. I want to be able to think aloud while I read and get that noted down in a meaningful way. Of course you’re probably going to want a secondary input method when dictation doesn’t quite work or doesn’t suit what you’re trying to record and this is where I think the predictive texting soft keyboard you see on the iPhone and similar devices would suit. Except I don’t want it docked to the bottom of the screen, let me bring it up over the screen area where I want the note. In a way I guess that replicates pencilled in notes in the margin of schoolbooks. Page turning/flipping has to be easy – again we already have the tech there to detect motion so how about letting me easily flip a page with a gesture and flip many with a more vigourous gesture? Maybe this pushes a little too far – I’m not convinced it does.

Of course, all this comes at a price and I don’t think the above is going to be in the bargain section for quite awhile. Still, it’s nice to think about a device you could use and for which the tech is mainstream enough.

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