So, we have the iPad out and about for a while now, doing its thing, most likely selling well. Of course, others want a piece of that pie as well, so we see tablets pop up all over the place, most of which are either ultra-low budget junk or vapourware (how that’s Adam coming along, Notion Ink?). Earlier this year, Steve Ballmer proudly held up HP’s Windows 7-powered Slate – but then, HP bought Palm, canned the Slate, promised a webOS tablet, and then resurrected the Slate as an enterprise product. Now we have a video of the Windows 7-powered Slate. Let’s compare it to Samsung’s detailed overview of its Galaxy Tab, and see ever so clearly why HP canned the darn thing in the first place.
There haven’t been many sightings of the Windows 7-powered Slate since Ballmer held it up at the beginning of the year, so getting this up close and personal with the thing is kind of interesting – in a sad kind of way. Let’s just look at the video, and see if you can spot why, exactly, after having seen the iPad, HP ditched this thing and bought Palm.
The device itself is absolutely beautiful, if you ask me. Interesting design, especially the back, and it looks well-built and sturdy enough. It even has a dedicated control+alt+delete key – probably because domain logons require the venerable three-finger salute. Like I said – this is an enterprise product.
Anywho, where it goes wrong is the software aspect of it all, obviously. As outstanding a desktop operating system it is (best currently available – by far, in my opinion), Windows 7 absolutely sucks so hard as a tablet operating system. Sure, it has some nice touch-focussed features, but for the most part, all the user interface elements are simply way too small to comfortable deal with using only your fingers. HP realised this, and bought Palm.
Now, let’s take a look at the first serious iPad competitor. It’s from Samsung, and it’s the big brother of the highly successful Galaxy S-line of Android smartphones. The Galaxy Tab, as it’s called, also runs Android, but is decidedly larger (7″ display). It’s lighter and smaller than the iPad, which I found to be heavy and clunky, its large display necessitating lots of movement of your hands to cover the entire display.
The following video comes from Samsung, and in a little over nine minutes, it details just about anything the Galaxy Tab has to offer. Compared to the Slate, this is a very touch-oriented user interface, taking its fair share of cues from the iPad (
Apple legal, are you awake? Dumb question, of course you’re awake).
This clearly shows the difference in thinking between Samsung (working upwards from smartphones) and pre-Palm HP (working downwards from desktops). Suddenly, it’s become quite easy to see why HP invested in Palm and the webOS, instead of chugging along with Windows 7 or a custom skin on Windows Smartphone Embedded Mobile Compact CE PocketPC.
Still, the Slate is intriguing in that it can be used for quite a few things – it’s a standard netbook machine without a keyboard, after all. I’m not sure what those things are yet, but I’m sure lots of geeks are already brimming with ideas.
The Win7 as tablet thing just doesn’t quite work, as you say, even if it’s a decent desktop OS.
Alternately, the Samsung tablet seems more reasonable, which it should be given that they seem to have ripped off every feature they could (including the look of opening a book, page turning, coverflow knock-off for their media player, the look of the calendar, the home screen swiping, etc., etc., etc.) from the iPad. Jeez. “Gentlemen, start your copiers!” doesn’t need to be aimed at Microsoft this time around.
Not that the icons and interface elements look as nice on Android, but if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess Apple should be awfully flattered.