In a joint press conference with Toshiba today, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has again pledged his support for the Tablet PC. It’s a pet project of his and despite lacklustre sales so far – it might break through a million sales in this, its third year – he’s keen to see it succeed.
Gates Talks, But Can’t Walk, His Tablet PC Pledge
2005-06-28 Wireless 22 Comments
Have you seen the cost of Tablet PCs? For some reason every manufactor of them seems to think the word ‘Tablet’ means add of $$$.
A Basic Tablet would need to be no more than a stripped notebook. No keyboard – USB will handle that, no hinges or cabling than needs to survive being flexed thousands of times. Even the touch screen would not need to be, personally I could live with a touch pad if it supports a stylus for writting in data. Limited yes, $2500 and up no.
Tablets will only take off when someone bites the bullet and cuts prices to match notebooks/laptops.
Why use a heavy-weight OS plus gobs of memory and disk?
Just show the desktop data over the WLAN and provide just enough hardware and OS to handle that interaction. The main work shouldn’t be done locally on the tablet. The kind of hardware already in a sub$100 Linsys router is enough. Add in some support for a touchscreen plus an appropriate case and you’re done. To be generous, that would be about $500; $100 router hardware + $50 video + $200 screen + $150 power.
That, unfortunately, doesn’t fit with Microsoft’s current business model…so it doesn’t get built by any company.
The fact is that in the real world there isn’t the demand for tablets that you hardcore geeks think there is.
Not everyone wants to be tied to a computer 24/7, dig? And places where this might be useful-say, in a hospital where a doctor on his rounds can call up a patient’s records via the hospital network-may not have the infrastructure in place to support something like that.
Add to that the fact that tablets are generally slower and MUCH more expensive than non-portable systems, and the fact that most people like using a keyboard and mouse, and you’ll understand why people just don’t care about tablets.
No matter how cool they are, they’re never going to be more than a niche product. Get over it.
I think highly about Tablet PC despite those who mock and laugh at it, I for onr think it’s the perfect computer for artists and people who like to draw.
Of course the price to high for most people even consider in buying one, let’s hope that in the future it will change!
“I for one think it’s the perfect computer for artists and people who like to draw.”
Why not use paper and pencil, and scan in the good ones if you want to colour them on a computer? Smaller, lighter, no batteries needed, much cheaper even allowing for the cost of a scanner.
You also have more control over the quality of the lines.
I bought a Toshiba Satelite R15-S822 for $1600 bucks ($1800 with tax and shipping).
It’s pretty awesome, Toshiba’s support sucks though (you have to pay for equipment failure even if it’s toshiba’s fault).
I just wish there was better Linux support for it, I’d switch in a heartbeat. Windows sucks on it, like usual. Memory leaks, wierd problems, the ever present spyware/virus thread, etc.
Tablet PC’s absolutely rock for art stuff.
Traditional techniques (Paint, pen, pencil, etc) simply do now compare.
“Traditional techniques (Paint, pen, pencil, etc) simply do no[t] compare.”
Sure. Because working with a physical medium is SO last century, y’know?
I get tired of the whole “digital is automatically better than analogue/physical” thing. It’s true that working digitally is nice because you don’t have to buy physical supplies (beyond the computer and any accessories and software you need to make things happen) and because you don’t have to have a “studio” set up for your artistic endevors, but there is nothing to compare to the tactile sensation of working with a brush and canvas. No amount of “unlimited undos” can substitute for being able to look at past works and learning from your mistakes by examining failed sketches or portraits.
Imo the cost it’s not the limiting factor, but how much they all sucks.
A tablet pc is useful only if it can replace a paper notepad. since the tablet is bigger, noiser etc it must provide some added value.
I’ll expect it _at the very least_ to be able to recognize my handwriting and interpret a sketch (i.e.: digitalize my notes in some format a little bit more useful than a bitmap), and ain’t see this happening
Some of the tablet PCs don’t cost that much anymore. Look at Averatec’s (http://www.averatec.com/notebooks/C3500.htm) or Acer’s. You can buy them for the same price as regular notebooks.
“That, unfortunately, doesn’t fit with Microsoft’s current business model…so it doesn’t get built by any company.”
You are very wrong in your assumption. Actually Microsoft released that exect device you describe in your message and it was called Smart Display. It doesn’t have hard drive, high end processor, keyboard or anything else. Just a WinCE running Terminal Server client that can connect to your main computer. 2 companies built them, ViewSonic and Philips. One of the ViewSonic models cost about 500$. But they never took off, and nobody ever bought them.
Tablets are supposed to be light-weight notebook replacement, not a terminal that you can use only when you are near your main computer.
Tablet’s can recognize your handwriting. Actually when I tried it, it worked perfectly, unless I used very uncommon works that are not in the dictionary. You can also get software to interpret sketches. Look at Corel’s line up of products. They released one product specifically for sketches on tablets.
Well actually you don’t need a tablet PC for that.
You just link your blackberry or Windows mobile PDA to a siebel database through a software called Antenna (which you load onto the PDA)
Why would you buy a huge overpriced tablet PC for that?
Regarding smart display I know only of airlines whic hbuy them as part of Maintenance manual for aircrafts.
But I have heard that the life of the device is quite limited. (it does rain sometimes on the runway while you do your line maintenance)
Memory leaks? Nope. Get off Windows 98.
Weird problems? Elaborate.
Spyware/viruses? Only if you’re an idiot.
while talking about tablet pc’s, what is a good model?
things that I must be able to do on it:
read pdf’s (kpdf)
write latex (kile)
write email (kmail)
surf internet wireless (konqueror)
record sound (mp3 player)
watch video (kmplayer)
Between brackets, I placed the programs I use now for those tasks, but I would not care if I had to use other programs as long as the os and programs are open source!
thinks I don’t care for:
nose (the machine must be sillent)
speed (I assume that when compiling something, I can login on a faster pc)
keyboard and mouse
Zenith created the CruisePad in 1995 to work as a wireless link to Windows NT, see a pic of it here: http://www.zdsparts.com/cruise.htm
Problem was no demand, seems it’s STILL the case. Just as Internet Appliances will take over PC sales, oh wait that’s what they were saying 5 years ago.
> Tablet’s can recognize your handwriting. Actually when I tried it, it worked perfectly, unless I used very uncommon works that are not in the dictionary.
Then either you possess machine-friendly handwriting or mine sucks I have never found a decent solution so far.
(but truth to be told it’s about an year or so I stopped looking, time to go try some new toy
> You can also get software to interpret sketches. Look at Corel’s line up of products. They released one product specifically for sketches on tablets.
I think you mean Grafigo, tried that sometimes ago, but first you cannot sketch and write at the same time (without resorting to tedious program swapping at least) and then, maybe it’s me but I’ve found the performance of Grafigo (expecially with flowcharts) really poor.
Is *that* difficult to have a “paper page” software that have some clue about handwriting, sketch recognition and formatting? Because without someting like that the tablet pc is as useful as a very pricey notebook with fragile hinges
That’s not the same thing as working with tablets… If you’ve worked with tablets, you know that it’s not limited to draw raster stuff… There’s plenty more possible, specially if you also work with vector and/or need to use the input data with something else.
And I’m not talking about Tablet PCs here… I’m talking about standard Tablets. A Tablet PC’s more closer to a Wacom’s Cintiq; and if you think that way, you know how cheap Tablet PCs are, compared.
Still a lot a money, but you can’t call it expensive comparing with something that gives you similar functionality.
Besides that… Let people choose how they work/make their own choices instead of telling then how they should do it… IF it’s a suggestion, it’s ok… but it didn’t sound like that…
I work at a pharmaceutical research company where new pharmaceutics are tested on humans and we use tablet pc’s a lot of the time to enter the data in. The positive things are that there’s no more piles of paper (and there were a lot!) and the sponsor can instantly see the results even if they are on the other side of the world.
But at the moment the tablet pc’s are so clumsy and not user-friendly… For most appliances they should be half as big (A5 size) and have decent programs that have buttons that aren’t the size you can barely point at on the touchscreen.
I bought a refurbished Averatec C3500 a few months ago for less than $800. Half a gig of RAM and an AMD 2200 Mobile Chip. It recognizes most of my writing flawlessly, its dictionary is fairly limited but easy to add to. The machine runs hotter than I like so I worry about long term viability. Alias Sketchbook, while not as full featured as some apps, is excellent for artwork. MS Onenote is great for meetings and does an excellent job of digitizing my notes. I am in the process of turning our paper forms into digital forms at the medical practice I work at. When that is done we are going to purchase a few slate type Tablet Pcs and save a whole lot of trees. In the past we had tried to replace some paper forms with electronic forms only to find that our rural patient base was unfamiliar with keyboard basics. Honestly, a keyboard for data entry is inefficient and leaves a lot to be desired. I can’t figure out how a device that was purposely designed to be hard to use (think qwerty) became the standard input device for computing.
MS (and whoever comes along and copies them) still have a lot of work to do to make this a viable device, but at least it is a start.
is Bill Gates going to port MS Office to it? (That was his pledge with IBM OS/2, and sales climbed well over a million, but he never got around to fulfilling his pledge.) I think the MS Tablet PC’s going down the gurgler as well, a la OS/2.
Tablets will only take off when someone bites the bullet and cuts prices to match notebooks/laptops.
Isnt that the truth. When I bought my laptop about a year ago I looked at tablets. Having the big touch screen would have been great, but it certainly wasnt worth it for the added expense for something that was about half as powerful as the laptop I ended up getting. It isnt really Microsoft’s fault they are so expensive. Blame the manufactures.
I plan for my next laptop to be a tablet PC… i.e. it’ll be a laptop with a keyboard and a touch screen.
The reason for this is my past experience using similar technologies. For instance, I have been using a Psion netBook for a while now (nearly full-sized keyboard, EPOC OS, touch screen), and it’s unbelievable how much faster it is to just point at things with the stylus and have that direct relationship with the screen, whether for selecting text, drawing or playing solitaire. Of course, anyone who has ever used a PDA knows this, but combined with a keyboard the speed and usability gain over using a mouse or touchpad is quite significant. If any of the naysayers had ever had extensive experience using such a keyboard/touchscreen combination, they might not be so quick to dismiss it.
Furthermore, for drawing applications digital artists have been using external Wacom tablets for years. I myself have one of these tablets, and while it provides a MUCH better experience than using a mouse, I know that it just can’t compare to the immediacy of drawing directly on the screen. For those that say “line control” is inhibited, use a program like Painter with a touch-sensitive Wacom tablet and then pass your judgement; it’s very easy to get used to, and from what I understand the newest tablets provide the same kind of sensitivity. The only advantage that a tablet offers over a touchscreen is that drawings or photos can be traced on it, with the results viewable on screen.
Drawing and then scanning is simply not an effective solution for someone who wants to make full use of the computer’s creative capacities. It adds an extra step, requires a bulky scanner (the price of which is the same as the extra $$ for the tablet), and unless you’re using it exclusively for line art, it requires that you manually touch up all the blank white areas on the page so that the final doesn’t print with random off-white shadows all over it.
Now if only Apple would make a touchscreen PowerBook…