The tablet's new avatars

April 05, 2011

Tablet PCs have recently grown in popularity within a very short time, as compared to the time taken by other electronic devices such as notebooks or laptops to gain a presence in every household.

Nowadays, I see people holding their tablets along with their mobile phones, unlike the laptop, which took a longer time to be seen in public. Perhaps the high prices when laptops were released in the market prevented their deployment, which was achieved by tablet computers faster because they were more affordable and offered greater mobility.

But there is a focus on consumption of entertainment content and less attention on productivity where tablets are concerned. They lack some essential features to help us accomplish serious tasks.

However, because of the intensive competition in the tablet arena, some companies are beginning to put out distinctive products that are different from what was released earlier. Research In Motion, for instance, will launch its first tablet this month, focusing on enterprises and related services, but with a slice of entertainment features, to reserve a place among the competition.

On the other hand, HTC has surprised everyone with the additions to its new HTC Flyer. It is unique enough to make you forget that it runs on Android, the underlying platform which is known to run the majority of the tablets currently in the market.

The most important addition is a pressure-sensitive stylus made specifically for taking notes. Scribe is the name of the technology HTC has developed to make such a thing possible. For example, when you would like to discuss the content of a new website you are working on with a team, you can write and draw notes on it directly and e-mail it to your colleagues, in addition to adding comments on your e-book’s pages.

I consider this tablet an essential tool for any journalist these days. HTC Flyer has taken notes to a whole new level by allowing the user to take notes using the virtual (on-screen) keyboard, and then combine it with an audio or video recording immediately, including the observation date in the device’s integrated calendar automatically. Plus, it has the ability to add random hand-notes using the special stylus.

I personally still use paper and pencil while sketching a new design or wire-framing a website’s structure because it is difficult to do so on a laptop or tablet, but this device looks promising.

Another example is LG’s new tablet. Optimus Pad offers three-dimensional support, allowing you to shoot films in 3D and publish them through the built-in YouTube application.

With many choices that are going to be available soon, it is easier to choose a tablet that suits you, whatever your needs are. If you are concerned about weight, Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab which will be released this summer, or the iPad 2, are the thinnest tablets right now.

There are a lot of sizes too, from seven to ten inches (I do not consider computers with sizes such as four and 12 inches as tablets, because they are either too small or too big). Price has also become a deciding factor with the intensification of competition.

Many of the operating systems run on tablets too. You have the iOS from Apple, Android from Google, RIM’s BlackBerry Tablet OS (QNX) and Web OS from HP.