It’s getting closer and closer to the expected announcement by Steve Jobs of the Next Big Thing (NBT) from Cupertino. It’s pretty much a given we’ll see the most discussed unreleased product of our time, the Apple tablet. There have probably been hundreds of items appear on the web that discuss what it will be called, if nothing else. The fascination about this mystery gadget has been nothing short of phenomenal, especially given that tablets have been around for a good while. My experience with the tablet form for years has led me to understand what this mystical, magical tablet from Apple better have to be the gadget that will revolutionize our lives.
The expectations over this as-yet unannounced gadget are as high as I’ve ever seen for a new device. That puts a lot of pressure on Apple to meet or exceed those expectations if it will be the NBT as we’ve come to believe it will be. I have used a lot of tablet devices over the years and there are a few simple physical traits that this new tablet must have or it won’t get the acceptance that everyone expects.
First and foremost, the new tablet had better be thin. I’m talking iPhone thin, and not much thicker. There are already quite a few tablets out there, but they all exhibit one trait that makes them not so easy to use — they are thick. Handheld devices are held to a higher standard than other types of devices, and comfort is the single biggest factor that determines whether a user will actually pick up one of these tablets and use them for extended sessions. Thicker than an iPhone and these tablets become unwieldy and worse, uncomfortable to use for more than a few minutes at a time. The NBT must be comfortable enough to pick up and use for an hour or longer.
Secondly, yet just as important as device thickness, is the weight. The rumors have this Apple tablet equipped with a 10-inch screen, but even if it is smaller than that it cannot weigh more than a pound. This comes from my own experience using handheld gadgets, once you exceed a pound in weight they become uncomfortable quickly. A tablet is by design to be used totally in the hands, and it better be light enough to make it feel right. And that’s what this tablet will be totally dependent on, feeling right while being used. Too heavy and users will stop and think before they pick it up for extended sessions. Less than a pound is a must, and the lighter the better.
I have used tablets as small as 5 inches, and they’ve all been at least an inch thick and over a pound in weight. This makes them harder to use for more than a few minutes at a time. This won’t work for the Apple iPad, or iSlate, or whatever it’s going to be called. Thin and light it must be, no matter what other goodies Apple puts inside.
Photo of the iPad, courtesy of Gizmodo.