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Apple Tablet Coming Wednesday, According to Everyone
Monday, 2010 January 25 - 11:33 pm
It seems like everyone except for Apple themselves has confirmed that a new tablet computing device will be unveiled at their media event this Wednesday. It's a lot like the days leading up to the iPhone announcement: a lot of hype, a lot of speculation, and a lot of pundits (with no actual knowledge of what the product will be) predicting that it will fail.

So here's what I think about the tablet.

Size: Probably 10" diagonal. Some suggested 7", but if this is a netbook-killing productivity device (which I think it is), I think 10" is more likely. If it's a high-resolution LCD, that could put the screen resolution at 1280x800, the same as the 13" MacBook.

Shape: Everyone says it'll be an oversized iPhone, but... dang, it sure seems like this thing could use a handle. I suppose that's just wishful thinking, though. However, I do think it needs to have front-facing speakers, if it's supposed to be video-capable. So it won't be exactly iPhone-like.

Price: I say no way this can cost $999 and succeed. At that price, it's the price of a full-featured laptop, and beyond the cost of a secondary device. This will be an accessory to your main computer, so I think $599 is the limit. Ideally, publishers or service providers will subsidize part of the price.

OS: Kind of iPhone-y, but more. Again, I expect that this is intended to displace netbooks, so that means it'll need to be able to run spreadsheets and word processors. So it'll have to be more OSX-like in some respects: multitasking, toolbar- or menu-driven, and text-input friendly.

Interface: Multi-touch, naturally; expect to see an entirely new paradigm for touch-based computing. Unlike Microsoft's method of just slapping a touch interface on their same old Windows interface, Apple will probably extend their language of swipes and gestures to manipulate applications and data in an innovative new way. But like I said, this needs to be text-input friendly, so I also expect a new paradigm of one-handed text entry. (After all, you have to hold the tablet in one hand, and it's too big for thumb-based typing, so I think a touch keypad designed for one hand seems rational. Or maybe we'll bring back handwriting recognition? Or speech-to-text?)

Media: Books? Periodicals? Movies? Music? Probably all of the above. The much-rumored deal with book publishers and magazine creators is probably real. TV would be a nice addition, but I wouldn't count on it. Textbooks are an intriguing possibility: if Apple has lined up support from both publishers and universities, we could see millions of college kids sporting these things instead of backpacks full of textbooks. It's a captive audience, college kids are a great target demographic, and Apple would burnish its education credentials. The more I think about it, the more I like this idea.

Communications: There's lots of talk that the tablet will feature Verizon 3G, but I can't see how all the AT&T-using iPhone users would want to be saddled with another wireless contract. AT&T has to at least be an option, if 3G is there at all. 3G would be nice, though, because if that was coupled with a front-facing camera and simple video chat, we'd potentially have a true Grandma-friendly video phone.

So what's it gonna be? Netbook replacement, publishing revolution, or video phone? I think it'll try to be all of these things. I guarantee that it'll be more than a bathroom web surfing device. Steve Jobs would never stand for something so obvious.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

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