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Tablet, please! - Tech Geriatrix

Tablet, please!

Posted on July 18th, 2012 in Opinions, Rants

…thank you.

After having enough “touch”, I will satisfyingly declare it “consumed”… I’m a consumer after all, aren’t I?

Well, I didn’t really order a tablet, if that’s what you expected… I’m just fantasizing about a reason to get one. And I just can’t find any, I guess I’d just have one if I was extremely bored and I would just get anything that can stimulate my attention and curiosity. For a while… In fact, I did have a short experience with some friend’s iPad. It was flashy, it was a new experience, but it did not last long. After a short while I was already looking for another toy.

It is true in fact that swiping your finger over a shiny oleophobic surface is something new. And to make it a complete, uniform experience, the stuff on the screen follows your finger very closely. It gives you the safety that the device is doing exactly what you want it to do. Touching is basic, it’s simple, it doesn’t even click, it’s just a simple flow of actions. Touch, swipe, instant response. The device agrees with you all the time.

Well, going along with the gag, you will find that it agrees with you MOST of the time. After you find that connection which keeps you and your device going together, in a perfect tandem, you will find out that the tablet itself has some needs too. It needs more content, you get used to the existing content and then you want more of it. Where from? The Marketstore, of course. The Marketstore will save you when you get bored with the tablet. And life in general.

Also, I think that the guy that invented the tablet hates buttons. Really, the maximum number of visible buttons that I ever saw on any relevant tablet is one. ONE! Well, there were also other buttons somewhere around it, but they were small, and on the side, hidden from human sight, like some dark embarassing secret. Some other manufacturers decided that the buttons were so embarassing and outrageous that they replaced them with “touch keys”. Somewhat like a cheaper alternative to a slightly larger touchscreen, but that’s okay…

OK, so what can the tablet do? Or rather, what can you do with the tablet? Well… web surfing, viewing documents (and finger scrolling them), viewing your pictures (optional cats included), or watching videos. Basic stuff, that everybody needs. And which can be also accomplished by a laptop. But the laptop is way bigger than a tablet, it’s no good…

I remember that someone wrote in an article somewhere that the tablet is the “post PC device”. I was kind of shocked actually, I could not relate the tablet to the PC in terms of capabilities. Or find any common purpose. Now look, I liked the tablet gag, but until the “post PC” philosophy. It was comforting to watch just how many months my friends actually use their tablets, before getting busy looking for another one. Yeah, in about 2 months they were looking for another toy. But the “post PC” classification wiped the smile off my face…

I will not compare the tablet to the PC, it’s stupid. I know, you pretentious, unsatisfied, bored tech geeks, the PC has a drawback: it’s big, and potentially noisy (it can be fixed, actually…). You can find many shortcomings to the PC if you really want to emphasize the shininess of the tablet. The good parts of the PC? Well, it’s a computing powerhouse, compared to the tablet. It has a big monitor, there is room for all kinds of stuff on it, you can play games, “create content”, you got lots of storage, you can find a bunch of “apps”, you don’t have to worry about the battery, you don’t have to hold it in your hand until it falls off, you don’t need to withstand the heat of the tablet under heavy usage, or you can easily expand its hardware capabilities. What about the features of the tablet? Well… it follows your finger, in a really cool way!

The only relevant comparison is with the notebook computer, it’s the closest competitor. It’s about the same size, somewhat heavier, but you need a bag for both, since they won’t fit into a pocket. For the same price, you can get a pretty good laptop computer, with a reasonable keyboard and a way bigger screen. You won’t feel clamped by the limited capabilities of the tablet. Yeah, I’m talking about the limited storage, limited computing power, limited heat tolerance or limited application interaction (read “small screen”). Plus, you can’t rest the tablet onto your lap, the screen will get flat horizontal and in consequence, your head will also have to get flat horizontal in order to see anything on the magic portal to the “app world”! With a laptop, you can actually rest it on a table and bend the screen towards your eyes, so that you can watch it properly and also be able to operate the keyboard, which will be “flat horizontal”. Your head will be held at a natural angle, and your hands too. Try that with a tablet, try leaning it at the same angle as the laptop screen, and see how much time you will be able to keep your arms straight… Small things which you will inevitably discover as annoying tidbits of poor taste, but only after the “touch” hysteria cools down and the real usability of tablet comes to the surface.

One who buys a tablet is a “flash buyer” (with a loose pocket I have to admit), the target buyer will give up to it at the first sight! It’s an attractive toy… And after you buy it, you will also have to discover that you have to keep “flash buying” stuff in order to keep you (and the tablet…) happy.

I read on some website that a feature of the tablet would be “content creation”. Like what, abstract finger paintings and advanced cat photos? Cool!

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the tablet is a cool toy, especially for people who have never touched one before. But that’s what it is, a TOY! It’s not a “post PC” device and it’s not meant for “content creation”, it’s for spending some time, for enjoying the fluid touch interface. And you can do that under various pretexts: browsing the Web, reading books, newspapers, or my rants, playing “Angry Birds” (required feature, don’t buy a tablet if it doesn’t support “Angry Birds”!) and so on. But otherwise, it’s very hard for me to take it seriously. It’s like playing with rubber balls, they bounce in an absolutely cool and relentless way, but really, you achieve nothing by becoming good at it!

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