What Would Get Me to Buy a Tablet?

iPad

iPad

On Saturday’s morning tech show, we talked about this for a minute. I have not been a tablet fan. I tried for the TouchPad when it was dramatically reduced, but that was because it was under $100. I personally don’t see the advantage of having a $500 tablet, and here is why:

Computer Speed of a Tablet

This is the biggest reason why. I have 4 machines in my arsenal. A MacBook Pro, an HP GX series laptop, a home build desktop with ASUS motherboard and AMD Phenom II chipset and a Dell D610.

The two computers I use the most are the desktop and the MacBook Pro. My Macbook Pro sports an i7 processor and boot camp to Windows 7 keeps me productive. The Desktop is a stable spot – I seem to get more work done on that station than I do any notebook. So when I need to “Bear down” on a project, you will see me at the desktop.

The HP used to be my main machine, but got replaced because it didn’t handle video production as well. Whereas it takes 20-30 minutes to process a 15 minute video on the MacBook Pro, the dual core HP (with Intel Graphics) would take up to 2 hours. When I’m on the road, that is just not acceptable. The Dell is used for very minimal needs – like a Twitter client or web browser.

Today’s tablet matches that between the HP and Dell. So at best, it would be my #4 computer. I could do minimal video editing, but I can also do that on my iPhone.

Let me know if the iPad3 will support a 2.0 GHz Quad-core processor and 512 MB of video RAM, then we’ll talk about a tablet

Storage of a Tablet

When will Apple finally put a standard card slot on their machines? I want to put in video to edit video, or have the tablet upload my videos to a source. It does work well when connected to the cloud, but you then need a WiFi signal (unless you have a 3G or 4G tablet). The 16 or 32 GB models would hold some of my content, but I would constantly be pulling stuff off the machine and only if I have it connected to the laptop or desktop.

Tablet Size

sony tablet s & sony tablet p

sony tablet s & sony tablet p

The 10 inch tablet is just not for me. I loved the idea of a 7″ tablet – it feels better in the hand and fits in the pocket. I can put it in the side pocket of my notebook bag and give me everything that I need out of that device.

I got to play with the Sony Tablet S (which I will be showing on a video later today). The “Folded magazine” feel fit better in my hand, which I was impressed with. I still would like to see a 7″ tablet with that same feel.

BTW – I didn’t get to see the flip version in Sony Tablet P, but I am very interested in trying it out.

My iPhone Does a lot and fits in my Pocket

In all reality, the order of computers goes like this – MacBook, iPhone, desktop, HP, Dell. So the tablet would most likely be the 5th device most used. The best part about the iPhone is it fits in my pocket, so it’s always in reach. The tablet would be in reach if I had my laptop close by.

I have talked to many tablet owners. It’s surprising how many people are now leaving it on the coffee table. They might pick it up for 5 minutes when watching TV to browse the web, but besides the 35 minutes of use, leave it to be a fixture in the house.

It’s not to say that some people use it as an integral tool – If you cannot live and breathe with it, then more power to you. But I can live and breathe without it right now.

An OS I can use

I know this is going to piss off some fanboys, but I live in a Windows world. In fact, I use Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro more than I use the Mac software. But this is more about using a full operating system on a tablet. Whether Windows or Mac, I need a tool that could match my computers. I want to put on software that I use on a daily basis. I don’t want a different experience on my tablet.

Can I see myself with a tablet in the future? Yes. But I would either need the device to be powerful enough for me to want to carry around, or more cost efficient.  For $500, I can get a laptop that doubles the power of a tablet. Even if someone put out a $1000 tablet that has a powerful multi-core processor, 1 GB graphics, 4GB of memory and a hard drive of 500GB, then I can start looking at the tablet.

In the meantime, I just don’t see it a part of my daily use. That is why I have an iPhone.

Price of Sand Falls

Anyone who’s been around technology knows that over time you get more for less. Whether it’s more GB, more GHz, more pixels, it’s a side effect of Moore’s Law and market forces. You always pay a premium for the new stuff but over time the price falls.

Sometimes, it’s not always readily apparent how much it falls. Perhaps it’s because it’s often a year or two between purchasing whole new computers and you only really consider the total cost of the PC. Perhaps it’s because the latest OS consumes resources such that Windows 7 on a Core processor runs as well as Windows 98 on a Pentium III.

But recently I had the opportunity to really see how much prices fall over time. Back in June 2010, I built a PC from components and at the time I only had enough money for a dual core processor and 2 GB RAM (which is fine for running Linux).  Last week I decided to upgrade to a quad core processor and 4 GB RAM. When I saw the prices, I couldn’t believe that they’d dropped so much.

DDR3 RAM
June 2010 – 2 GB @ £37
Feb 2011 – 4 GB @ £31

AMD Athlon 2
June 2010 – Dual core 3 GHz @ £57
Feb 2011 – Quad core 3 GHz @ £63

The RAM prices are a direct comparison as it was exactly same memory module from the same vendor. For the CPU, it was the quad core version of the dual core in terms of clock speed and cache, though the vendor was different.

I can’t say exactly when or why the prices actually fell, but from an empirical point of view after about 9 months, the same amount of money seems to gets you twice as much RAM or twice as many cores.

I’ll buy that for a dollar!