Tablet form factor: don’t believe the hype

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The first sets of coverage from the Consumer Electronics Show had a wide range of companies including Motorola, Microsoft, NVIDIA and H-P all have been talking up the tablet form-factor. However there also needs to be a bit of reality sprinkled in amongst the hype. So here is my contribution:

  • Touch-typing is becoming more common rather than less common as younger people have learned how to touch type in school. Virtual keyboards just aren’t as good as a well-designed electro-mechanical keyboard with positive feedback. In comparison hand-writing software is slower to use. Working on the Palm account I got really handy with their Grafitti-I written language after having done demo-after-demo. Palm went off the boil when it brought out the Grafitti-II written language to try and get around a patent case which they eventually won anyway. Even with these mad skillz handwriting didn’t trump typing speeds
  • Batteries are still relatively inefficient and kick out a good deal of heat. My iPhone seldom lasts on a full day’s charge and can get quite warm. LED backlighting can help the screens power consumption. However the touch screen mechanism, accelerometers, memory, connectivity and processing all consume a good deal of power
  • The clamshell of a laptop gives the screen at least some protection in comparison to the slate design. Ironically it also helps putting the screen in an ergonomic viewing position
  • Electronic ink doesn’t do colour all that well but that may well be dealt with sooner rather than later