The recent launch of the Apple iPad has me thinking a bit more about the form factor in general, and what exactly I would like to see in such a device.
Let me start by saying that I think the iPad is a very good design for what it was intended to do/be, and that it seems that most of the complaints around the iPad stem from a mismatch of certain people’s wants/needs with Apple’s intentions for the device. Such are the risks of using secrecy and leveraging people’s hope and dreams, of stirring their unmet desired to sell your hardware. But I digress…
While I don’t see myself purchasing an iPad, I do hope that it succeeds in creating a market for panels, because I really could use one.
My needs, though, are different from the one’s Apple is trying to meet. They are, roughly:
- The panel should display my files, specifically files related to my work. It needs to be simple like Dropbox, automatically and effortlessly syncing with file store(s) of my choosing. It needs to be able to handle text, MS Office documents, PDF documents, images, video, etc, and handle them all well.
- The panel should allow me to load ebooks from a variety of sources, using standard, open, DRM-free formats.
- The panel should allow me to browse the web.
- The panel should allow me to handle my email (multiple accounts, including Exchange email and gmail).
- I’d much prefer handwriting recognition over an on-screen keyboard.
- The panel should have a headphone jack.
- I don’t need a built in camera or phone.
- Dreaming: the panel would have a video-out (to standard VGA via an adapter if necessary) so that I could use it to drive any of the projectors on campus.
Essentially, I need a work-oriented panel to bring with me around campus to meetings and to class, and to read on the train during my daily commute.
My guess is that that panel will be based either on Android or Windows, since I don’t think this is the game Apple is trying to get into. Of course, it could be that such a device will never materialize (I’m still looking for an inexpensive mobile phone that is only a good phone). But if the iPad takes off, even modestly, we should see a few vendors coming up with offerings in this space.