HP, Palm Have the Experience to Create a Superior Tablet

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2010-08-23 Print this article Print

So what would an HP tablet look like? The Windows device will probably look like just what it is - an upgrade to the current HP tablet. It'll likely consist of a body containing a keyboard and some of the communications gear, like a wired Ethernet connector. The screen, as is the case in current devices will be large enough to be useful, will be fully touch sensitive, and will handle handwriting. Mass storage will be in the screen portion, as will wireless networking. No surprises here. You can expect improved battery life in some models; again, no surprise.

As for the webOS tablet, look to the current Palm devices for some clues. Palm has had touch-screen technology long before the iPhone has existed. It had a form of handwriting recognition that worked well (once you learned Graffiti) and an on-screen keyboard that could be oriented in either landscape or portrait mode. WiFi has been standard for years, and so have on-screen icons and an app store.

With the latest Palm devices you got something new in terms of a much more capable OS, slide-out keyboards and a variety in your choice of carriers. While I found the new keyboards a little hard to use because they were small and my hands are pretty large, at least they were there if you'd rather use them instead of a touch screen.

There's no question that Palm has the know-how to produce a tablet that's superior to the iPad. It's also likely that it'll offer features that the iPad doesn't. Perhaps those features will include a slide-out keyboard. Perhaps handwriting recognition will appear in these devices. It's very likely that you'll have more than one choice for your 3G carrier. It may even include a phone function. And of course, all of those functions carried over from Palms of yore will certainly reappear, like a music player, video and photo viewer and a document viewer-editor. It will almost certainly sync with Outlook and other corporate e-mail systems.

And that's just Palm. We already know an Android tablet is on the way, and there's no reason not to expect most of the existing Android applications to work on it, except maybe for the phone-related apps (unless the Android tablet also contains a phone) and there are rumors, as well, of a RIM tablet.

The good news is there will be a lot of competition, and the better news is that this competition will mean that all of the tablets will get better. We won't be left to the whims of Apple to define what's cool and what sort of tablet we're allowed to have.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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