No, it’s not the one you take to get rid of fever or get out of sex for the night. The Tablet in question is the hot new category of computing – the slate, the pad, the sliver – the Tablet device is literally a category on fire.
There has been much speculation as to why this is suddenly a hot product. After all, we’ve had WinTablet PCs for while and they were all a rank failure. Some compare this to the euphoria of the PDA of yesteryear. There was frenzied demand – the whole world carried one – and then suddenly they went the way of the dinosaur. Then there’s the other argument that the Tablet is an unnecessary third device between a mobile phone and a laptop. To all these, I have just one answer. The Tablet can become as successful as mobile phones – they just have to make the perfect one!
There’s an old joke about a few men sitting and discussing how they could create the perfect woman. They took the lips of one actress, the hair of another, the torso of this one and the legs of that one – and created the perfect woman. It was then that one of the chaps piped up and asked if he could have all the leftover parts. Funny, yet bang on in terms of creating anything perfect. It is not only about taking the best feature of each – it is also about what you leave out. So let’s try and create the perfect Tablet with most of the critical features and some of the leftovers.
Let’s start with size, looks and weight. There’s not much you're going to do with the form factor of a tablet – it more or less dictates itself. Reduce bezel around the screen, keep it thin and light, don’t put too many buttons that can get pressed and throw in some colour. Also, a small second screen underneath the main one (like on the new Samsung Continuum phone) for running widgets and tickers is a great idea.
Assault and Battery
This is make or break as standards here have been set high. There’s a certain stress when you carry around a device that has a short battery life. You don’t want that with a tablet. This has to be a 12 hour+ device at the minimum. Also, it needs dual
batteries, one built in and one hot swappable. The amount of flexibility this gives you is incredible.
Screening it out
The thing that we actually use the most. We see everything on it and we touch this to interact. So two things that are non negotiable. Capacitive only (resistive screens are the work of the devil) and very high resolution (till now the bane of all tablets. The minimum should be a 1440 x 900). And while I would add a rollable bendable screen, that's just being delusional and not happening for the next five years.
Size matters here too
I’m taking screen size separately as this is actually a hot bed of controversy right now. What’s the perfect size for a tablet? I’m a little surprised at those that want it small. You already have a small Tablet in your pocket – it’s called a mobile phone. A Tablet needs more real estate. For me, 7 inches is good and a 10-incher is the sweet spot. Ask anybody whose played ludo or monopoly by keeping a Tablet between four family members and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
To OS or not to OS
The OS, what most people call the holy grail and what I call ‘not a big deal on a Tablet’. The only problem: it is yet to be invented. The OS on a Tablet needs to be very less. It is basically a holder for
running apps and a browser and not much else. A simple, uncluttered, fast, clean and easy OS that runs all the apps fast is all we need.
The Real Holy Grail
Connectivity is what you need with a Tablet so throw it all in here. 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, WiMax, LTTE – this is the one device that needs them all.
Ins and Outs
Ports is where we really need to get off our high horse. You really don’t need too many and they are a form factor-killer too. So a MiniSD, a mini USB and if you’re really desperate,an HDMI out.
What else? A simple detailed dedicated app store (fragmentation is a killer here), the critical ability to take finger swipe notes (if you can’t jot down a number in an emergency then a tablet is useless), two cameras (a must-have: video conferencing out-of-the-box is the next killer app) and of course price. You need a $299 (about R15,000) Tablet with all the above to make it the killer device of this decade.
To all those that think this still has something missing – it must print, it should be able to handle heavy duty software, it should be able to run Photoshop, it must have a keyboard – there’s already a Tablet with all that. It’s called a netbook and it has been around for a while and it is part of the leftovers we threw out.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni