What Would You Do With An iTablet?

by James R. Stoup Sep 20, 2006

Today, I have a little thought experiment for everyone. All I need you to do is tell me what possible use you could have for an “iTablet”. That is to say, tell me what you would do with an Apple-branded tablet-like device (not a Tablet PC, an actual tablet). Now, here is my one condition, don’t let current limitations of technology stop you. Allow me to explain in more detail.

I have thought about this for a while and I cannot come up with a reason for ever wanting or needing an iTablet. Because every time I think of something to do with it, I realize that there are better alternatives out there already. So, I put this question to our readers, what would you do with an iTablet?

Remember, techonolgy isn’t a factor. You can imagine it to be as big or as small as you want. Give it a 2 year battery for all I care. Give it a touch screen and wireless capability too. Tack on a camera if you must, but once you are done, answer me this simple question: “What do you do with it?”

Because I can’t think of anything useful. Remember, life isn’t like Star Trek where everyone carries around a little computerized tablet. We aren’t on a space ship. So why do we need one? Lets go through a common list of “desired” features and maybe someone can tell me where I am going wrong.

Watching Movies
Would someone explain to me how you are going to watch a movie on something that you are supposed to hold in one hand? Forgetting battery life entirely, the main limitiation is going to be the screen size. You can only make it so big before you are carrying around a laptop. Also, how are you going to hold this razor thin tablet for a 2 hour movie? Prop it up against something? Tape it to your hand? Use magnets to afix it to a metal wall? What? It seems like quite a hassle just to watch a movie.

Surfing the Net
Since you are going to be holding this in one hand I hope you are really good at typing with four fingers. What you really need is a keyboard, but if you add that then you have a laptop. Adding a stylus isn’t going to help you surf the web either I’m afraid.

The Super-Duper PDA
I just can’t see someone buying an iTablet and trying to use it as a PDA. Not when they can just use their cell phone or, dare I say, their laptop. Either of which would be much easier to use. As an extra function, maybe. As the primary function, no way.

Video Phone/Gaming Device/Swiss Army Knife
Now we are really getting into the realm of fantasy. Can’t you just see someone holding a tablet in front of their face and talking to someone else via a video link? No, I can’t either. Because you wouldn’t be able to see where your going it would be very awkward to use. Same thing happens when you try and turn it into a game machine. How do you play it? How do you hold it?

Am I missing something folks? Is there really a hidden purpose that I am just not seeing? What would you do with one of these things? Remember, just because a product does 7 things poorly doesn’t mean they add up into a great device.





  • We need a real ebook reader that works and is better and priced no worse than the iRex Iliad. My realistic ideal is:

    - size of a trade paperback
    - one day battery life
    - can allow any PDF, HTML, Pages, KeyNote, PPT files to be read (at least)
    - it should have basic iPod abilities
    - it should be at least 40GB storage
    - it should have a reasonably high-res, color screen
    - it should be able to highlight text and keep basic handwritten notes (annotate and bookmark anything)
    - it does NOT need to do handwriting recognition but it would be nice if it worked well
    - it should NOT lock me into a DRM for any content I want to add to it, i.e. let me put any of my own files on it.

    If there is access to an iTunes-like store that would allow me to buy articles from journals, newspapers, chapters of OReilly texts, legal briefs, whatever, great. But don’t tie me to the store and I MUST own whatever I download. Not interested in reading long fiction myself but YMMV… we really need a document delivery revolution for all the paid content that is out there but is largely impossibly expensive to get or too hard to find. It is nuts that a song costs .99 but a 1-2 page article from a newspaper or journal can cost 9.99 or more… clearly something is wrong in this picture…

    terribly had this to say on Sep 21, 2006 Posts: 1
  • @terribly

    You have a great idea. I love going to bookstores just “browsing” and thumbing through the magazines and I can quickly loose track of time until my wife rings me up.

    If those magazines are converted to ePaper (or whatever they call those) and sell those on iTunes, well I’m there! I have read trade publications in PDF form and it is almost reading the magazine sans flipping the pages and the new paper smell. eBooks are another potential.

    If the iTablet (iPad?) can do this, I will line up the day it comes out.

    Robomac had this to say on Sep 22, 2006 Posts: 846
  • Another thing I would really like to see is the “on screen” scanner function you can see in the Knowledge Navigator “bench” video. You just put a piece of paper on the screen face down and have it scanned, including full OCR.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Sep 22, 2006 Posts: 371
  • Tablet + photoshop + Final cut pro or iMovie + iTunes = movies!

    Ever try hand drawing anything with a mouse?  WHenever I try to manipulate a scan it ends up taking weeks to fix small subtle marks that got left off the scan.

    evilgenius had this to say on Sep 22, 2006 Posts: 9
  • It’s an interesting question. When I put the functions I want into a tablet, the cost increases to the point that I wouldn’t use it - I’d use a combo of my phone, or iPod, or buy a laptop.

    My father wants to buy a universal remote for his stereo that’s over $400 (it’s pretty well a tablet with some extra buttons). If Apple put a device out for that I think he’d jump at it. An easy method that allows him to control his amp, digital receiver, DVD player etc from one remote (including scripts for combination of button pushes) would be great, especially when integrating it with an iTV.

    Add a TV guide to the remote/tablet and things get more interesting. How about a customised list of TV shows available for download?. Or just a list of shows ready to watch?.
    .... Or put TV interactivity on the tablet - make an interactive question appear on the remote instead of on the TV screen etc.

    That’s just one thought… very loosely formed…

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Sep 22, 2006 Posts: 228
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