For the small story and responding on "created a "need" for a device", I was following tablets since 2000 because of that need, and I ended using until 2008 the psion Netbook (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psion_netBook) designed before 2000. What it had valuable for me, was 10hours battery autonomy, touch screen, light weight (~1kg), a super stable OS with instant switch-on, many useful apps (email, browser, games, HP RPN calc emulator, ..) and the best, a full word processor integrating spreadsheet tables, charts and on-screen drawings. Those specs I wanted from a tablet or convertible was certainly not achieved by any of the PC-based ones. The need was there, the technology was there, but no product before the Ipad succeded in convincing a large public. Franck (written on IPad)
To TJ and Franck, I was at the press introduction of the first generation of Windows-based Tablet PCs in 2002, and did a lot of coverage at the time, including an article for IEEE Spectrum. I have to say they were nowhere near as bad as people now claim. They were advanced for the time. True, the Windows for Pen Computing didn't work quite as well as claimed. And the Toshiba convertibles were cumbersome (that's what I'd call them, as opposed to fragile). My ex post facto take is that they failed because of a) price and b) there wasn't a perceived need for them at the time. I think that's what Steve Jobs brought to the party with the iPad. He created a "need" for a device that people hadn't really been all that interested in before. He did it by making the tablet a good looking and desireable consumer product. In conclusion, I think sometimes Microsoft takes the rap for failure when the failure wasn't really its fault. Those 2002 tablets laid the foundation for what followed.
To answer "why the convertible notebook computrs never caught on".
From my experience having looked at those for years and never been convinced to buy one, they were :
- twice the price or more of the Ipad
- half or less of the battery life of the Ipad
- heavier than the Ipad
- mechanically fragile
I agree that the netbook would be better for creation, but I think the price comparison is a bit low.
One wonders why the convertible notebook computers (where the screen can be rotated 180 degrees then closed again to make a tablet) never caught on. You have the best of both worlds (easy presentation like an I-Pad, full notebook when needed without an extra piece of hardware like external keyboard).
Good point about mobile, Brett. The definition is/has become fungible. Mobile no longer means just a smartphone, which is what is still my default thought. In the real world, though, the def now includes tablets, and basically actually refers more to a mode of working than to the platform upon which you're doing the work -- the latter (that platform) being almost irrevelant. The one exception I would say is the (lack of a) hard keyboard, which limits input capability on tablets.
Consider RealCalc (try before buy, $3.49). This is a virtual scientific calculator that also support decimal/binary/octal/hex conversions and operations, RPN entry, customizable constants, and customizable conversions (ie, add your own constants and conversions).
The Kindle Fire is a limited capability Android platform, and may be a poor comparison to a more complete android device. My Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S) also includes TWO cameras, accelerometers, and a magnetometer, all of which the Kindle appears to lack.
(Why isn't there a spell checker and previewer for these forum posts?)
When you say "mobile", I think mobile as in a tablet, and very mobile as in a phone.
I always have my phone with me wherever I go, so whatever I use would have to be usable on the phone. If I needed an app that required a tablet or keyboard, I would use a computer instead - a tablet would still be too limiting to be usefull. Exceptions to that would be the touch interface really added value, a viewer that allowed me to rotate/zoom objects, or a virtual control panel using sliders/knobs/buttons/switches.
(I do not have a tablet, but I do have an android phone.)
I can see a lot of applications for a tablet in field maintenance and on the test bench.
On the bench, the tablet could serve as the virtual display and control panel for a whole range of instruments connected via usb or wireless. In the field, it could be used to interface to systems with embedded test and maintenance capabilities (like JTAG).
I'd love to have one to start working on apps like this, but it will have to wait 'til they become a little more affordable. Meanwhile, I already have a range of instruments that interface to my laptop, and their a big plus.
I've acquired an IPad for use in my airplane as an electronic flight bag displaying charts and other data, and it is wonderful at that. I have come to value it as away to access the internet without all the flapdoodle associated with booting a computer. It is a great device foer consuming information, but not so great at creating information.
My personal favorite engineering app for the IPad (and IPhone!) is the HP calcualtor RPN emulating PCalc app. Many of us who embraced (in the 1970's)the HP calculator logic have always been uncomfortable using those addled "regular" calculators. I do not use a handheld calculator for extended engineering calculations much anymore, as I prefer the record and re-usability of a spreadsheet, but it is nice to have a serious calculator in my pocket or on my desk when it is appropriate.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.