Saturday, September 12, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #121: Making the in-Progress Apple Tablet Hypothetically Better

From this lazy person's point of view, a Tablet Personal Computer, regardless of manufacturer, does not do enough. My anecdotal benchmark standard for this is how I'm using a netbook right now. (Yes, netbooks might be oranges to a tablet's apples, but they are both small, portable fruit for this silly tech discussion.) Right now, I am blogging while lying down on a sofa. My netbook is resting on my belly. Other than typing, this is a completely hands-free operation. The size and weight of a netbook is ideal for laying it on one's belly; a full-sized notebook computer would be ridiculously unwieldy for many users.

This brings me to Sticky Issue #1 concerning a Tablet Personal Computer: You have to hold the damn thing, at all times...when lying on your back. As evidenced by my more impassioned rants about current political issues, I delight in viable solutions: A Tablet Personal Computer needs a compatible add-on base, so it can rest stably on a user's belly. When the occasion arises, I also like imagining positive, yet currently impossible, solutions: An add-on base isn't the most elegant of solutions, but levitation technology is. Therefore, the ideal Tablet Personal Computer will be able to hover near the user, for complete comfort and non-holding while using the touchscreen.

If someone's going to develop hover-over levitation technology, please remember to add "Ryan DeRamos" to the list of inventors when you file for relevant patent(s). And you're welcome.

Sticky Issue #2: A LED screen Tablet Personal Computer will not be better than an eInk eBook reader when it comes to reading eBooks, Google Books PDFs, and Project Gutenberg text documents for long periods of time. Let's face it: Looking at a computer screen for a long period of time results in some degree of eye fatigue, at least for us old-school human beings. Perhaps several of you have mutated your eye cells so that you can read off a monitor like ink on a sheet of papers. Perhaps you've given birth to an evolved generation whose eyes don't burn out against bright lights. If so, then good for you. However this silly rant is about me, my lazy portable computing ways, and old-school human beings, apparently.

My proposed solution isn't immediately feasible (as far as my knowledge of current technology), but it might be more realistic than inventing anti-gravitational floatation devices. I propose that someone with the resources, funding, and know-how develop a hybrid LED/eInk screen. For bright computer needs, the LED pixels can fire up. For low-light, battery-saving, book-reading needs, the eInk pixels can fire up instead.

If someone's going to develop hybrid-screen technology, please remember to add "Ryan DeRamos" to the list of inventors when you file for relevant patent(s). And you're welcome.

Finally, Sticky Issue #3 demands that a Tablet Personal Computer be a fully-operational personal computer. For all intents and purposes, my netbook is a fully-operational personal computer. My netbook can run Pro Tools 7.4, at the very least. My netbook can interact with a photo scanner. My netbook can access a USB external hard drive. In lieu of a DVD drive, my netbook can read ISOs from CDs and DVDs. My netbook can use a Wacom tablet and run open-source GIMP, so I can draw things. (Granted, the tiny screen prevents me from comfortably doing a lot of creative things on a netbook, and I usually produce such "art" on a desktop.)

While the above content speaks of Tablet Personal Computers in vague terms, I'm really talking about the anticipated Apple Tablet, currently in development. It needs to be a MacTablet running OS X What's New Pussycat? (and be able to boot Windows and/or Linux, if desired) and definitely not an AppTablet (AppBook?) running iPhone OS 3.x. Like any full-fledged personal computer, you need to have the freedom to install buggy, incompatible software for this Tablet Personal Computer. An extremely closed, nanny/big brother system like the App Store won't cut it for a Tablet Personal Computer.

On a Tablet Personal Computer, you should be able to install Avid/Digidesign, Adobe, and Microsoft products, as well as their open-source equivalents. By the same token, you should be free to be frustated if and when there are periods of incompatibility whenever a new software version or new operating system is released. In fact, it is philosophically better to be frustrated by (hopefully temporary) software incompatibility than it is to be frustrated by the lack of viable choice. Additionally, you should be able to purchase digital music not only from iTunes, but also from AmazonMP3 and other stores - a freedom currently not available with the iPhone OS.

And I should be able to play touchscreen Diablo III while lying down in a hammock. In any case, we'll have to wait and see how this new Tablet Personal Computer technology pans out.

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