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January 22, 2010updated 19 Aug 2016 10:05am

Why I’m slating the iSlate

Amongst the thousands of news articles and blogs gushing over the anticipated launch of an Apple tablet computer next week - possibly called the iSlate or iPad, or neither - it's perhaps worth taking stock of the situation and asking whether all

By Jason Stamper Blog

Amongst the thousands of news articles and blogs gushing over the anticipated launch of an Apple tablet computer next week – possibly called the iSlate or iPad, or neither – it’s perhaps worth taking stock of the situation and asking whether all this hype is really justified.

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The concept of a tablet or slate PC is not new. They’ve been around for about 10 years, and it’s a format that came to the mainstream thanks to a product announcement by Microsoft in 2001, which saw the Redmond-based firm launch a pen-enabled computer running a licensed copy of the “Windows XP Tablet PC Edition”.

It was essentially a laptop-style device that featured a touch-screen with handwriting recognition, to make it easier to jot down notes, rush off a quick sketch or whatever. Some manufacturers opted to stay with the laptop’s physical keyboard, spawning a category known as “booklets”, while others dropped the keyboard in favour of just a touch screen in a device resembling a slate.

So first off, let’s just remind ourselves who brought this concept to the masses – Microsoft – before we wonder whether Apple’s version will “change the world” as some commentators are suggesting.

Second, it’s worth noting that so far, such tablets have found only a limited audience. A recent Morgan Stanley report suggested two million tablet PCs were shipped last year, compared with 34 million netbooks and 131 million notebooks.

So why hasn’t the concept of a tablet PC overtaken more traditional laptops, notebooks or indeed the latest netbooks already? Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive list of disadvantages including the higher cost, snail-like speed of handwriting recognition compared to a keyboard, screen and hinge damage risk, less familiar ergonomics and in most cases a relative lack of power.

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So if Apple launches a tablet-style Mac next week, will it change any of this? I sincerely doubt it. To read the rest of this article click here.

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