Image via CrunchBase
I’m tired of people talking about tablet/slate is the future of personal computing. I mean I’ve built my own PCs all this time so why don’t I start making my own slate if that is really the future?
Many people think iPad is the best tablet so far. I beg to differ. It’s probably the worst since it has no USB port, it does not use desktop OS, and it has no memory card slot. So you’re asking why does using a full-fledged desktop OS matters to me? Read on.
Before I go further, I’d like to tell you how important to have at least one USB port on a slate. Imagine this; we should already know by now that iPad in 2 versions; the 3G and non-3G. People with money would normally go for the best their money could buy. For poorly paid public servant like me, it’s just normal to opt for the cheaper one, which is in this case the non-3G one. Practically it’s cheaper to buy the non-3G and then plug my existing USB 3G modem (or even 3G-enabled phone) and I’m good to go. Besides, even if the slate does not have a memory card reader, I can always plug a USB card reader too, should there’s a need to do so. Not to mention the freedom to directly connect my other devices such as phones, digicam, mp3 player, etc. without the need of a PC as a mediator. It would also allow me to expand the built-in memory by plugging in USB flash drives. See how cool it is to have a USB port? The presence of USB ports on some Windows slates makes them the winner over iPad.
Talking about connectivity, the non-3G iPad would only benefit home users, provided that the house is equipped with wi-fi. Travelers and road warriors would be happy with the 3G version, but that’s it, they’re restricted to 3G only. Since many new ISPs have started rolling out WiMax services, even the 3G version of iPad is out of luck, as there is no way to plug in USB WiMax modem to it. That’s why I’d like to stress out that having USB port is as important as having the core of the tablet itself. Not only it allows the slate to have extra features, it may also doubles the existing features.
Now, into the OS as I promised earlier. I don’t mind if people prefer to put/use a specially developed mobile OS for tablets. However I can’t accept it if people think tablets must use mobile OS instead of desktop OS, citing issues like battery life, “overkill”, etc. I’m not really sure about the “overkill” part as I never think desktop OS is too much for a tablet, because even netbooks can accept them. However when it comes to battery life, actually it’s the goal of all desktop OS to become most power efficient and it doesn’t have to be for mobile OS only. Besides the battery life is usually determined by the CPU. That means even if the OS is power efficient, if the CPU is power-hungry then even a tablet with power-optimized mobile OS would have it’s battery juice drained in no time. For an analogy, imagine comparing a 3GHz Intel Pentium-powered PC with a 3GHz Intel Core-powered PC. Install both PCs with Windows 7 Ultimate and I’m pretty sure the latter would be the winner for consuming much lower power despite using the same OS.
For me, no matter how people want to push the usage of a mobile OS in a tablet, a tablet must be powerful enough to support at least Windows 7 in it, should there are people who want to use it in a tablet. People should not think that “a slate is a smartphone+ and it should have similar battery life to a smartphone”. It is a ridiculous idea to believe that way. Sure it’s welcomed to see a tablet that can run as long a smartphone does but it’s still pretty much unrealistic and just a wishful thinking. A tablet is good enough if it could run continuously (with 3G/wi-fi on) for 6-8 hours with single full charge.
Actually what you do with a tablet is all that matters, not the OS inside it. If tablet is really the future of personal computing then doesn’t that means it would need the OS of personal computing know to everybody (Windows/Linux/BSD/OSX/etc.)? Really most people have fallen victim to the illusion made by Apple that now they believe the reason iPad is popular is because of its OS. They’re totally wrong. iPad was popular because it was from the “new” Apple (Apple under Steve Jobs management). Just a matter of fact, everything that comes from Apple since the return of Steve Jobs would sell, no matter how feature-poor they are.
I believe people would still buy the iPad even if it was loaded with OSX instead of iOS. Likewise, I don’t think Fujitsu’s tablets would become as popular as the iPad too, even if they had some mobile OS pre-installed. After all, reputation helps a lot here. Many people don’t know the truth behind the OS selection for iPad. The initial plan was to use OSX but they had a hard time to re-scale OSX’s kernel for lower-powered mobile use. Therefore they went to recreating/redesigning the OS again, and that explains why the earlier versions of iOS were all “unfinished products”, rolled out prematurely to meet its users with no copy-paste, no multitasking, etc.
Talking about reputation, since I’m anime fan too, I’d like to touch a bit about anime as well. It was reputation and hype that helped popularized Panty & Stocking anime a while back. People have known GAINAX for a long time, and people have known them for their good works. However I bet P&S would be as popular as we know it today if the exact thing was made by some American cartoon studio or even by some Asian animation studio outside Japan. Instead it might have ended up being known as yet another cartoon with Powerpuff Girls style animation, and wouldn’t make it to either Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon but would be aired in the midnight adult slot in some US TV channels due to its dirty jokes. In other words, people who have fallen for P&S is just like those people who have fallen victim of the illusion created by Apple as I explained in earlier paragraph.