Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I, For One, Welcome Our New Tablet Overlords

Unless you're a technophobe, there's a fair chance you know that Apple announced their iPad tablet today. I don't have many thoughts on the device itself, but I continue to be surprised by the number of people who just don't "get it". People who don't really see the point of having a computing option between a laptop and a smartphone... but personally, I never got laptops as a replacement for desktops. Yeah, I'm old. Thanks. I'm also not a person who ever thought: "Writing a paper or doing analysis would be AWESOME if I could just do it in a crowded coffee house where I can't concentrate!" Laptops are heavy, generate a lot of heat, have small screens, are a PITA to operate without a a real keyboard and mouse, and perform very poorly in regards to a beefier (yet cheaper!) desktop. If you travel a lot... or if your work will happily keep you in fresh laptops (while not caring what stuff you put on it)... I guess it's a different story. For me, however, they just have never seemed quite portable enough... or cheap enough... to justify what would essentially just be "surfing while lying down" for my ideal usage. Indeed, most people I know with laptops use them exactly like desktops (i.e. dedicated desk, keyboard, monitor, and mouse) except they transport them between identical setups at the office and home. They tend to be rooted one spot more than you might think... and for what? To me, laptops just aren't really that good at anything... except cramped typing at forty thousand feet, which is not something I ever need to do.

So yeah, I'd love to have a dedicated internet surfing device. I'd keep my desktop PC as my home entertainment center, but it would free browsing to anywhere else in the apartment (not that there are a lot of options in our tiny Cambridge dwelling, but still). I've already gotten a taste for browsing untethered with my Droid, and while I love it, it's a pretty crappy experience... it's only awesome because you can do it anywhere, so you put up with how small the screen is and how awkward it is to navigate... I'd gladly carry a 1.5 lb tablet in my bag for the alleged superiority.

Now, I won't be buying an iPad... at least in the near future... but I certainly do look forward to tablet-ized future Apple is seeking to create.

photo by flickr user Guillermo Esteves used under a Creative Commons license