Posted tagged ‘tablet’

Taking the tablets

September 29, 2010

I’ve now had my iPad for over three months, and I continue to use it more and more. Most recently I have taken to propping it up at meetings and taking notes on it, since I discovered that I can actually write faster on it than on a traditional keyboard (I don’t touch type, however). Most of my reading is now done on the iPad, and quite a bit of my web browsing.I have found that as a gadget it kind of adapts to my needs and preferences in a very intuitive way. The thing works for me.

Now I see that the iPad is to get a competitor, in the form of a slightly smaller device to be known as the Blackberry Playbook. Like many people, I started my mobile computing on a Blackberry, and indeed had three of these in sequence. Then along came the iPhone, and to me at least the Blackberry suddenly looked dated and sort of boring; and I’ve been with Apple ever since. But the Blackberry has stayed in business, and remains very powerful. And now it has decided to follow Apple’s lead into the tablet market. Its sales pitch is that this is going to be the device for business – as distinct from the perceived idea that the iPad is for media and leisure. If that is the target, I do wonder about the ‘Playbook’ name, which just doesn’t conjure up seriousness. But it does look neat, and some may prefer its smaller size. It also has some features that the original iPad doesn’t have, such as a USB port.

I’ll stick with the iPad (a new model is now rumoured), but competition is always good, so I hope that Blackberry does manage to get a foothold with this device.

Taking the tablets

August 22, 2010

Two months have passed since I acquired my Apple iPad, and so I have had a little time to explore whether this is the future of computing, or indeed of entertainment and mobile-everything. The verdict so far: I’ve been taking it everywhere, and have been using it principally as a notetaker at meetings, as a mobile internet browser and as an ebook reader, probably all three in equal measure. I occasionally (but more rarely) use it as a music device or as a viewer for video content, or as a tool for presentations (when linked to a projector). The combination of document creation and editing, and reading books, somehow makes it a perfect tool for an academic, as far as I am concerned.

So am I persuaded? Absolutely. There have been a few moments when not everything is as intuitive as I would like; for example, it took me longer than it should have to work out how to transfer documents between the iPad and my Macintosh, and indeed it somehow annoys me (not sure why) that I have to do this via iTunes. I also had to learn to switch off all wireless functions whenever I wasn’t using them, as they run down the battery much faster. But on the whole these are minor gripes. Overall, the device is doing everything for me that I wanted it to do, and as an ebook reader it is as close to perfect as I could wish for.

So what about the competition? Obviously, Apple didn’t invent the tablet concept, though it certainly has turned it from something that frankly wasn’t finding a market to something that is now visible everywhere. But there is no reason why others shouldn’t get in on the act. So far, I don’t see anything. But there are announcements. HP ha announced two different models for 2011, and LG (a company which often impresses with the visual style of its gadgets and equipment) has declared that it will shortly launch something that will be much better than the iPad – you can read a prediction here that it will fail in that perhaps rather bold ambition. Apple itself may be unveiling a new iPad or two early next year.

Competition is always good. And this user of a tablet at any rate is persuaded that the market for this kind of device is going to be big. Very big.

The iPad experience

June 19, 2010

Yesterday I had some business in Belfast, and on the spur of the moment I visited the Apple store there to see whether they might have an iPad (and expecting they wouldn’t, given the run on the device). Amazingly they did, and here I am the proud owner of a WiFi/3G iPad, and this post is written on it.

It’s early days yet, but I am inclined to say that the hype is not wrong. The design, of course, is excellent, but it is also very intuitive to use, and extremely flexible. I would also have to say that, as an ebook reader, it is more user-friendly than the Kindle, and what you are reading has more of the ‘look and feel’ of a book.

One very positive experience has been the on-screen keyboard, which for me at least is usable in much the same way and at much the same speed as a ‘normal’ one. I suspect it may not be so good for those who do touch-typing. However, I also bought (and am here using) an add-on keyboard and charger, which works like any other Macintosh keyboard.

The downside? It’s slightly heavier than I had expected, though hardly so heavy as to be inconvenient. And as far as I can tell so far, the battery life is only so-so – it is running down much faster than the Kindle, though admittedly it has much more processing to do.

My verdict? This is not a ‘tablet computer’, and Apple were right to avoid a name that would have suggested that it is. It is something much better. Having used it now for a day, I am inclined to agree that these devices, and ones like them, are likely to be the computers of tomorrow. If I were you, I’d invest in one.

Apple anticipation

January 20, 2010

Many launches of new Apple products are preceded by rumours and some breathless anticipation. Sometimes it turns out to be wrong, and nothing very significant emerges; but sometimes the rumours are right. Right now Apple has announced that it will hold a ‘product event’ on January 27. And absolutely everyone is assuming that we are going to hear about a new Apple tablet (iTablet? iSlate?) computer, perhaps to hit the shops in March. So Apple is either going to have to come up with the goods or there will be a dramatic anti-climax that might do the company no good at all. And as Apple executives have done nothing to dampen all this speculation, I think we may assume the rumours are right.

So what is a ‘tablet’? Essentially it’s a computer with a touchscreen – in other words, just a touchscreen, no keyboard or mouse. Are you finding the concept difficult to grasp? Just think of a much much bigger iPhone. And indeed it’s not a new concept: tablet computers using the Windows operating system have been around for much of the past decade, though without attracting any significant interest. So the new Apple product will need to be much improved on those earlier models; as it certainly will be. It will be slimmer, with a wow factor in its design, with easy to handle virtual keyboard and tools, and so forth. And, as everybody has been assuming, it will have a special role as an e-book reader; apparently Apple has already done deals with some of the publishers. So it will be a new type of multi-media computer and e-book reader, to challenge both the Amazon Kindle and even some laptops.

Will I get one? Is the Pope catholic? Watch this space.