Friday, 29 January 2010

Tablet PCs set to make a comeback?

Led by the iPad - are we seeing the return of tablet PCs?

The iPad itself is an odd beastie. It looks and acts like an oversized iPod Touch ... only it seems set to market through the telcos despite not actually being a phone (also does not do flash - so web surfing for multimedia may be a tad restricted.) Presumably it could be used for VOIP - oops: no camera.

Do we also expect the thing to be locked to a particular provider (I mean besides Apple) where our new iPad can only connect through a named ISP/telco/thingy? Is this even more money lost to data-roaming charges?

At an expected NZ$700 for the low-spec version, if you already have a phone and a notebook this thing will be impractical. Especially as it replaces neither. Same pretty much goes for the up-and-coming others. Possibly there is a market for students buying a new computer - if textbooks are available and cheaply on the thing. Even then, there are clear limitations to using it to actually do your school-work.

The iPad goes with your home computer, not instead of it.

Since this is Apple though, there is some concern that Apple plan to do to books what they did to music.As Holmes Wilson put it:

This is a huge step backward in the history of computing. If the first personal computers required permission from the manufacturer for each new program or new feature, the history of computing would be as dismally totalitarian as the milieu in Apple's famous Super Bowl ad.

Some people are more alarmed than others. Total control of a particular computing workspace is, indeed, possible. The primary, current, means to this control is called Digital Restrictions Management.

DRM in music is pretty much a dead issue – however it is alive and kicking for books and movies. To be fair, it wasn’t the disaster for music that was hyped – if only through consumer resistance (also called “rampant piracy” and “sharing with your friends”) – but still…

FSF Defective By Design team has a petition in the hope that apple can be persuaded to drop DRM on books before it is too late. As if – but at least signing up demonstrates a mandate and may dissuade the others.

Still, bad things come in pretty packages - and the iPad is very pretty.

Getting an unlocked tablet looks to be impossible, even with the up-and-coming Android tablets. I can see how same people would figure: “If I’m going to be in prison, I may as well make it a comfortable prison.”

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