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iPads – Great for Movies, Not So Good for Work?
If you own an iPad, you’ve probably had plenty of fun planting zombies, killing pigs and enjoying the web. You might have spent some time composing music or Tweeting, although the chances are that you didn’t have much fun with Facebook until recently.
You might even have spent time watching videos online or recorded on your device, looking at photographs or even blogging, but one thing that you probably didn’t do is write a report or edit a spreadsheet.
The reason for this is simple: iPads are no good for real, office-based productivity. They might be great portable multimedia devices, but like Android tablets, real work is tricky. Even with word processor/notebook apps the devices are best used with an external keyboard, and all of a sudden they become less flexible, less portable and start smelling of fake leather swivel chairs, air conditioning and cheap coffee from vending machines.
In short, the magic is broken.
So an iPad is great for communication and media consumption, but when it comes to real slate-based productivity, what we all need is a tablet with an OS meant for a computer, not a phone. But who will build it?
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What Features Should a Windows Tablet Have?
With the news that a study by Boston Consulting Group has revealed that consumers have noticed a lack of Windows tablets in the marketplace with 42% of those surveyed preferring Windows on their tablets (despite that fact that there are tablets already available) let’s have a think about the features that a Windows tablet should have.
Let’s build a mythical, perfect tablet!
To begin with, a unibody chassis, much like the iPad. This is vital, as it enhances the impression of a light, easy-to-use device. On the sides: easy to access USB 3.0 ports, HDMI in/out, an e-SATA connector and the usual headphone/headset connector. We'll charge by USB, and Windows 8 will standardize power enhanced USB charging which Apple created and PC manufacturers individually duplicate.
A high-capacity microSDHC card should also be included as standard and also be easily upgradable. Meanwhile all versions of the device should have mobile Internet (with a standard SIM card slot so that users can take advantage of their existing mobile contracts – none of this double-dealing micro-SIM nonsense) as well as Wi-Fi.
The highest possible sound quality for audio playback should be offered along with a high definition LED-backed LCD display for the best quality videos. The touchscreen would naturally support multitouch gestures.
As for the operating system, well we’ll have to imagine that Windows 8 is ready to use right now, and that it is also able to run Windows Phone apps if necessary. Windows 8 will come with access to a Microsoft Windows Store, so our mythical tablet will have access to a wide selection of apps.
Last of all, Microsoft will have made sure that a vast selection of accessories are available for the device, such as keyboards, screen protectors, cases and soft-tipped styli for art applications.
So, light, functional and running Windows 8. Sounds great!
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Who Wants a Windows Tablet?
Interestingly, Boston Consulting Group’s survey follows a similar poll conducted by Forrester in which the number one most-wanted tablet operating system among the 3,800 people asked was Windows.
Not so long ago, the idea of a Windows tablet might have been met with derision, but with the news that the visually stunning Windows 8 is set to be optimized for such devices and that desktop and notebook versions of the operating system will adopt the same user interface, things have changed.
Of course, Microsoft has been issuing tablet versions of Windows since XP, and Vista and 7 have both been available on high-end tablets and hybrid devices. These devices are largely ignored, however, as they are bulky and offer finger-driven mouse control rather than the sort of touchscreen experience found on an iPad or Android tablet.
However Windows 8 changes the focus somewhat and ignores the requirement for a stylus. It is in fact an ideal device for the big hardware names like HP to make inroads into the corporate market that Apple has been targeting with iPad over the past year.
Or at least it would be, if they were interested.
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The HP Situation
Not so long ago, HP would've been a "shoe-in" when it came to Microsoft execs sitting around a table deciding on which hardware partners to go to for the best solutions.
But HP is now preparing a sale of its end user hardware division, which suggests that all manufacturing of desktops and laptop computers is set to be sold off. Only printers and server hardware will remain. This news followed the surprising announcement that HP was going to drop the webOS mobile phone and tablet platform just a few months after purchasing it and just days after the release of the HP TouchPad tablet.
So with HP out of the game and about to shed their ability to make suitable hardware, who else could Microsoft get involved with to develop Windows 8 tablets?
Dell is the obvious alternative to HP, and has obvious pedigree. Also worth a mention is Asus, producers of some of the best motherboards and laptops available.
Spare a thought too for HTC, the mobile phone manufacturer that single-handedly kept the old Windows Mobile platform running for a good two years longer than it deserved as well as providing the vast majority of Android phones. They’re perfect partners for a Windows 8 tablet, and could provide a stunning unibody chassis to rival that of the iPad.
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Forget HP and Dell…
Although Microsoft have been denying that they have any intention of releasing an own-label product, surely the best path is for them to
After all, they delivered success to Apple by constructing the iPad, and Amazon are hoping for similar success for their Kindle Fire device. Meanwhile the Kinect has also been a resounding success, again built by Foxconn to Microsoft's exact specifications.
Will we ever see the perfect, dream Windows tablet?
At the moment, no one knows… but with Foxconn's history of poor employee relations and accusations of horrifying labor rights issues, it would be built at a factory of nightmarish conditions.
- Windows 8 screenshot from Microsoft News Center, http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/events/build/imagegallery.aspx
- Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/FlickreviewR
- Liu, Rue. "iPads less desired than Windows tablets, says study", http://www.slashgear.com/ipads-less-desired-than-windows-tablets-says-study-05185728/
- Grobart, Sam. "Forrester Report Casts Doubt on iPad Competitors", http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/forrester-report-casts-doubt-on-ipad-competitors/