What's in the future for Slates, Tablets, iPads?

I’ve been following these PC form factors for quite awhile now. They’ve actually been around for a very long time when one comes to think of it; at least a decade from what I can tell. There also definitely seems to be a ton of hype on them all of a sudden too since Apple released the iPad roughly this time a year ago. So where will they go next?

Will Consoles try to jump on the band wagon? Perhaps; it seems logical, even if they do run the risk of looking more like an OEM PC competitor that way. What would the Console Mfgs really care? It won't be a question of if, but when, Slate form factors are able to play video games that are using advanced techniques such as DirectX 11. While the people who know me know I believe Consoles are a dinosaur business model that likely won't stop the Console MFG's from pursuing a more 'mobile' form factor. (It's what I'd do)

Will they truly be able to displace laptops? Perhaps a little bit. However; I definitely do not think they’re the laptop ‘killer’ that some are touting them to be. After all… what’s the #1 peripheral bought for them? Keyboards! I think the Asus eee Pad Transformer is an interesting, potentially evolutionary next step. Good coverage here:

What about Netbooks? That particular form factor may be at the highest risk. I’m not really sure what I’d do if I were in the Notebooks shoes at the moment. They definitely need some sort of extra super compelling thing to stay relevant in my opinion. I myself bought an Alienware M11x (11” screen); which approaches the size of a Netbook. For me personally it’s about as small as I can go in terms of the screen and keyboard without it becoming a painful experience. (I’m all thumbs when it comes to typing)

Then we have Windows 8 coming down the pipe. It’s probably a good bet that Microsoft will throw a ton of eggs into the Slate basket. Windows 8 would also make sense for a good marriage of the ‘Your Entertainment, Everywhere’ direction wouldn't it? I’d be surprised if they didn’t. IF and when they do it’ll be interesting to see how they reconcile the word ‘Entertainment’; will it include both Windows and Xbox games since it’s likely originating out of the same division? Will the Kinect somehow connect to my Windows Slate; or in the future be integrated? I'm sure a Windows 8 based phone most definitely would tie into this equation. It’s definitely fun to muse on; and I really have to wonder if it'll truly be a surprise. Microsoft needs a rabbit…and a hat for their next release. Windows 7 from what I can tell will likely be their biggest competitor.

What are my predictions? Honestly; I think these Slates, Tablets, iPads etc are pretty cool, but the lack of a keyboard is the real Achilles heel. Sure.. we could create some sort of perceptual, or virtual keyboard for them. Continue to view keyboards as a great way to up-sell a peripheral to a consumer (ugh..I hate the line of thinking. Just include it!); and so on. My guess is that they’ll evolve into something more akin to the Asus ‘Transformer’. To me they just seem like another evolution, or iteration, of the laptop. I'm all for it regardless of the semantics of what we call them...Slatelets, Slablets, etc.

Let me know! Inquiring minds would love to hear your predictions on these evolutionary products.
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anonymous's picture

Our current configuration with iPad, slingbox, apple tv and tv allows a lot of versatility. Using the iPad, we can watch the cable feed into out tv from anywhere in the world, can stream moves from iPad to TV. We can print from the iPad anywhere to the home printer. We are only just beginning to find the possibilities. I use Evernote to photograph business cards which are then stored on the cloud. OCR allows me to search for text on the card. I can use the iPad to run a slideshow using Keynote. I have TomTom installed so it is my GPS. I took a movie of my grandaughter with it. I took a movie of a flexible maglite and emailed it to my brother in Calgary to ask if he wanted one. I use this thing all day long in many different ways. I actually find the on screen keyboard easier than a laptop keyboard, and I love being able to draw and write with my fingers. The possibilities are myriad. The one I really wanted was the Transformer with Honeycomb, but I was unable to wait for it. I am pleasantly surprised by the ease of typing with the onscreen keyboard.

anonymous's picture

I see a future of glasses free 3d in the pad devices, the biggest innovation would be getting the glasses free 3d to work with pad devices with a decent battery life...Also...Don't try to be another generic gaming system! You'll never win vs the big three because they are the ones who make those exclusive games that make you want to get the system in the first place. To get more of the Gaming market for pads I think you'll have to provide something that says that they support the indie and small developers, and on a platform that isn't going to change every 6 months

Next I'd LOVE to see a pad with a SLIDE out keyboard from under it, and a nice little stand by it, I feel the gaming on a pad is annoying and gets in the way of the screen.

Pandara_RA - Inner Circle member http://www.WePC.com

anonymous's picture

I see a future of glasses free 3d in the pad devices, the biggest innovation would be getting the glasses free 3d to work with pad devices with a decent battery life...Also...Don't try to be another generic gaming system! You'll never win vs the big three because they are the ones who make those exclusive games that make you want to get the system in the first place. To get more of the Gaming market for pads I think you'll have to provide something that says that they support the indie and small developers, and on a platform that isn't going to change every 6 months

Next I'd LOVE to see a pad with a SLIDE out keyboard from under it, and a nice little stand by it, I feel the gaming on a pad is annoying and gets in the way of the screen.

Pandara_RA - Inner Circle member http://www.WePC.com

anonymous's picture

Today's innovation in technology makes PAD device(like ASUS's slate) more powerful,more reliable and best user experience with the help of O.S. and nice user interface.PAD becomes more portable with great design and form factor.Since PAD have both performance and mobility so they takes place the netbooks and notebooks.But in the case of laptop,i think laptops ahead from PADs in performance.
So the future of PAD device are bright in the case of both performance as well as mobility which is not fair for net/notebooks.

anonymous's picture

I think we have wave of different models in netbooks with keyboards. But slowly this trend is changing or it is already changed. Most of the tablets in the market can do most of things that your netbook can do. I heard people often say, I can install software in my netbook which you can't do in your tablet. People on the go usually need a device to update their office documents, surf web and sending emails(not big). These activities can be done using a tablet with out a problem and less weight and simple design. This is is proven with Apple IPad success. At the same time I like the new concept of Asus device "Eee Pad Transformer".

Finally in my opinion we see more devices without keyboard and for people who can't live with out keyboard can have innovative devices like Asus "Eee Pad Transformer"."

Itagsubbu - Inner Circle member www.WePC.com

anonymous's picture

My Apologies, but i disagree with your line of thought. I believe its a little myopic in identifying scope.

Computing in its next avatar will be more about media consumption. I would call it "my Media, everywhere". Thats where Applications, Cloud Computing, High speed networks, NUIs (Like Kinect) and APIs will hold the sway. Absence of keyboards as deterrents will really not tilt scales for Netbooks and Laptops. Most definitely, that will not mean the end to keyboard devices, but it is more likely that growth in computing devices will be ushered in by the tablets, smartphones and consoles.

To me the future is Semantic web, always on, always connected, always aware of the context and hence user-relevant at all times... and Laptops are not the best delivery machines for that future.

jerome-muffat-meridol (Intel)'s picture

In the console business everybody really sells software, including console manufacturers, so the equation is a bit different with other models where IHVs sell hardware and ISVs sell software. I can only see Nintendo able to come up with a pure gaming "tablet", and it might just make sense with a Dr Kawashima type of game to boot the thing up. Otherwise, a Sony or a Microsoft are better off selling something that might have a PlayStation/XboxLive logo but isn't a pure console (because this could give them cross-pollination between "computerers" and gamers).

As of the necessity of a keyboard, it is a question of software. Ever seen a successful keyboard add-on on consoles? Also, I've been using smartphones on and off since around y2K, and felt very strongly about needing a keyboard as the #1 feature. I currently use an iPhone, and haven't found myself missing a keyboard half as much as I would have expected. A few software improvements and it won't matter any more. Except for typing that long email...

And what if it was the end of long emails, twitter style, SMS style, people getting used to short but frequent messages?
And for those notes you need to write down, what about you actually write them down and take a snap? (à la Evernote)

The difficulty isn't in predicting how new devices will do on old usages, it is to predict the new usages they will cause.
Because new usages cause revolutions.

So, if I actually agree about the evolution in the direction of the 'Transformer', I actually think the tablet has a future by itself as the ever thinner, ever lighter companion, something that you are happy to carry with you at all times ('cause it ain't gonna break your back). There is a ton of software to invent to make it work properly, from rethinking the whole UI to not need a keyboard, to letting all surrounding devices be aware of each other (your tablet talks to your phone, TV, PC, whatever) and, to put it the way I like : the sum all devices is a greater device.

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