Dear Santa Macintosh

by Simon St. Laurent

I'm very happy with my iMac, but I've been working with various PDAs and have to admit some lust for the Tablet PC stuff I've seen lately, since clamshell laptops (like the one I'm working on at the moment) just don't really inspire me. Since the holidays are coming soon, writing to Santa seems like a good idea...



I think Apple already has the software I want - OS X and Inkwell pretty much promise to take care of my needs. Excellent network support, a Unix foundation, good (and improving) Java support, and a friendly interface - very cool.



What I'd like is a new piece of hardware. The size and weight of the iBook are fine with me, but I want less. Take off the keyboard and put a touchscreen over the LCD. Let me use the LCD either horizontally or vertically, and let me plug in a USB keyboard or mouse if I need them. Give me a folding stand that lets me set it up on a hotel desk in landscape or portrait modes (I've wanted a portrait-oriented monitor for my Mac since about 1989), plus a VGA output for conference presentations, and I'll be set.



A weatherproof cover for outdoors would be a nice option, but doesn't have to come in the main package. iBook prices would be nice too...




Anyone else want a bit more flexibility than a clamshell laptop?


6 Comments

tpherndon
2002-11-23 19:12:12
I've been hoping for a while now...
Ever since Inkwell was announced as a component, visions of tablets , PDAs, and cross-over devices like the OQO have been dancing in my head. That, and ultra-portable laptops with touchscreens (similar to the Fujitsu LifeBook P1000 series). Or even without touchscreens.


Apple can CLEARLY move forward into the realm of PDAs without breaking any of their existing product category lines, and could easily design a "professional" and a "consumer" model. And everyone would want one.


An ultra-portable is more tricky -- it would have to have the computing power of the "consumer" iBook while having the price of "professional" TiBook.


A tablet would also be somewhat painful to place. Again, battery life requirements and intended uses place an Apple tablet in the "consumer" area, but the additional cost requirements involved in adding in a touch-sensitive LCD and whatever add-ons are necessary (docking base, keyboard, a wireless access point is almost a necessity) would make the unit's price much more expensive. On the other hand, Apple doesn't differentiate the iPod based on "professional" or "consumer", so they may not need to slot such a device. They may simply make a few variations available at differing, though all fairly expensive, cost points, and let that be that. Further, since Apple has not seen the need to adhere to the principle of making the absolutely fastest computers they can, they may well not see the need to even introduce such a device at all at this time. Instead, they may want to wait a while longer until a larger market exists, and/or the cost of the specialized tablet components drops to the point where reasonable performance can be had for a reasonable price.

anonymous2
2002-11-23 20:14:43
I agree with almost everything --- except
I don't understand the desire for a touchscreen -- do you like viewing windows thru greasy fingerprints.


Ergonomically a touch screen is aslo very tiring to use after a few minutes.


It certainly is possible to have a computer display with out a keyboard -- either a fingertip device or a sensor that recognizes the relative position of the hand(s) in front of the display -- while you are typing on air or moving your fingers around the surface in fornt of the display, the computer could mimic this action on the screen.


Your hands/arms would remain in a comfortable position and the screen would remain free from In-N-Out burger-juice.


The other unanswered question is: If you don't have a clamshell, how do you protect the display from dirt and damage?


If you do need a clamshell, why not a keyboard?


Landscape/Portrait displays have been around since the mid-eightys -- I think Corvus had the first one on the Corvus Concept computer -- others soon followed with one CRT even having a mercury switch that would automatically detect the attitude of the display. The main difficulty is that the display needs to have square pixels.


As for less is more -- I agree. I bought a TiBook last June, and it is both -- I hardly use my desktops any more.


The only thing missing is a unlimited-hour self-charging battery and universal airport internet accessibility -- both doable!


Dick Applebaum

simonstl
2002-11-24 09:06:07
something I can flip over the top will do
I don't want the full solid clamshell - I'd settle for something like a flexible cover with a hard bit that goes over the screen. Flip it out of the way, and get to work. Recent Palms do pretty well with those, though there's room for improvement.


I'm well aware that landscape/portait displays are out there, but they're not a laptop feature per se. It's hard to use keyboards vertically...


As for the touchscreen, I'll take one happily over anything I have to put on my fingers. I'm pretty happy with the interactions I've had with my Palm, and don't think anything more sophisticated is necessary.

anonymous2
2002-11-25 04:30:43
Bluetooth
I think the device you describe would work very well with an bluetooth keyboard and trackpad with the same form factor as those on the ibook.


I like using my ibook because I can use it in practically any situation: on a desk, in bed, on a train etc. But I frequently lust for a bit more flexability - using it standing up or seperating the screen and the keyboard. Having it act like a tablet PC with wireless keyboard and mouse would give me both these abilities.


Oh and I suppose if I'm going to be using it standing up it should have some sort of sholder strap - I'd be slightly frightened of dropping it!

anonymous2
2002-11-27 00:33:55
Mac Tablet
Be sure to include a PDA-like stylus so I can doodle using inkwell.
anonymous2
2002-12-06 09:58:30
Mac Tablet
Yes, I want one with all of the features of the Compaq Tablet PC, only running a *real* operating system like OS X!


Mike.