It seems that everyone is obsessed with tablets these days, a far cry from the Microsoft Tablet PC days when no one cared. The focus began to shift toward web surfing slates last year, and it has heated up as it gets closer to the expected Apple tablet announcement. I have a unique perspective on using a web tablet, as I have been using tablets for years. These have included slate devices, and while they would do anything a “real” computer could do, they certainly did the web well. I have turned that perspective toward what type of web tablet I would like today, which is a much simpler device than you might think.
A web tablet to me means one thing — content consumption. I don’t want to create very much content on such a device, I have many better gadgets to use for content creation. I want a slate that is designed in every way to help me surf the web, watch online videos, listen to music and read e-books. That is all I want to do with my tablet, and I want no compromises in those tasks.
My slate should have a screen of 9 0r 10 inches, not a bit smaller or a bit bigger. I want it to offer a great web experience, and in my actual experience with screens of all sizes, that is the sweet spot. The slate must be easy to handle for long periods, so that means less than half an inch thick and not more than one pound in weight. I can use devices thicker and heavier, but I don’t want to.
My ideal tablet will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor running at least 1 GHz, but faster would be better. I have played with a number of phones and even a 10-inch slate using the Snapdragon, and it is a wonderful processor for these tasks. It also offers great battery life and days of standby without the need for charging.
I would like the ability to connect a Bluetooth keyboard to the slate, but to be honest this is not a major requirement. I am serious when I contend that I do not intend to use this tablet for content creation. I can see myself happy just using an onscreen touch keyboard. This takes me to my main requirement for the slate — a capacitive touch screen. Multitouch is mandatory for a good usage scenario, and I won’t budge on that.
The web browser needs to be as good as any desktop browser, as I must be able to surf to any web site I do on the desktop. There cannot be problems with that, a web tablet must serve the entire web as good as anything out there. That probably means the Mozilla browser, fully opened to accept extensions. If you sense a theme of no compromised web surfing, you get my point.
The browser needs to handle all online video perfectly, and that means good Adobe Flash and Java support. There cannot be deficiencies in the display of any online content. That includes PDF support — no compromises.
There needs to be a good media player for both audio, photos and video. This slate is designed for leisure more than anything, and that means media playing. I will also use my slate for reading e-books, so a good reader application is a must, preferably one that is compatible with both Kindle and Barnes & Noble content.
I would be willing to settle for integrated Wi-Fi for connectivity, but I suspect eventually I’d want 3G support. This could be integrated or a plug-in solution, initially I don’t care. I just need to get online — it is a web tablet after all.
I don’t care what OS the slate runs, as long as it is optimized for touch control. That means seamless, intuitive control by touch. There shouldn’t be anything that is difficult to do, as touch is the only control the user has over the interface.
It may sound like I want a lot, but I think my requirements are reasonable. I also think they could be provided at a decent cost. I’m thinking in the neighborhood of $300. The more I think about my ideal web tablet, the more I realize I am describing the slate part of the Lenovo U1 hybrid that I saw at the Consumer Electronics Show. I wonder if Lenovo has plans to sell only the slate? Hmm…