Next year will probably see new tablet computers from Apple and maybe even Microsoft. What do these companies know that our panel does not? Featuring Ryan Block and Harry McCracken.
The uncertain future of tablets
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Reporters Roundtable # 5: Tablets' uncertain future
It's the obligatory Tablets edition of the Roundtable, this time with even more great and smart tech journalist entrepreneurs from Gdgt (Ryan Block) and Technologizer (Harry McCracken). Watch or listen for the content. Click to the full story to see the notes we used when recording.
Welcome to Reporters Roundtable, CNET's deep dive into a burning tech topic each week. Today, we're talking about tablet computers. Everyone is expecting Apple to roll out a tablet, or slate, or e-book, or whatever you call it, next year. Rumors are that the device will sell in the $600-to-$800 price range. And recently, we've seen videos of the Microsoft Courier interface, Microsoft's secret tablet project. It's obviously not as secret as Apple's.
Then, of course, there's the unreleased CrunchPad, instigated by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. Will it join the legion of failed tablet and slate computers released? Can it compete with offerings from Microsoft and Apple? And why don't we have tablets today? Will we finally get them next year? That's what we're discussing today, with two special guests:
First, Ryan Block, co-founder of the consumer tech community site Gdgt. Ryan was editor of the Engadget blog before Gdgt. He knows his Apple rumors.
We also have Harry McCracken, editor and founder of the new tech blog Technologizer. Before launching that site, Harry served as editor in chief of PC World magazine.
First up: What and when?
Do consumers really want tablets?
What is a tablet? A computer without a pen? A TV? A book reader?
Which barriers need to fall: price, performance, software?
Brad Stone of The New York Times gives 5 reasons tablets have flopped:
- Input systems
- What's the right size?
- What about the folding concept (from Microsoft)?
- If they're as big as laptops, what will be their competitive appeal?
- Windows tablets
- Ultramobile PCs, aka UMPCs, in general (Oqo in particular)
- Microsoft Courier
What are the technological blockers?
What kind of operating system will be prevalent for tablets? Phone or PC?
Talk about form factors:
Let's look at successes or failures that could be illustrative:
@Rafe do you (the panel) think tablets are computing's version of the video telephone? [via twitter - mors-d]
Dave from Thunder Bay, Ontario, here, in the middle of the continent and the middle of nowhere.
Here's something I'd like to see and a lot of families would make use of: The centre of the modern family is the big calendar on the fridge with illegible appointments on it. What I want is a screen that goes on the fridge or the wall that will wirelessly sync with all my family's Google calendars with a touch screen to easily enter events. What I don't want is a full-blown tablet PC. Is there anything out there that fits this description?
Thanks for joining us, Harry and Ryan. Thanks also to Lynn Fu, our producer.
Obligatory pimping: Be sure to visit Ggdt and Technologizer.
Thanks for listening to Reporters Roundtable. We're on live each Friday at 1 p.m. PT at live.cnet.com.
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