Thursday, 07 April 2011 21:48

Sometimes, size does matter Featured

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TransWhile working on my latest round of reviews (making a few calls etc.) I stumbled upon the one thing that could hurt the burgeoning slate market. It was not some great epiphany nor is this hard to spot. This biggest issue that slates will have is storage space. Looking around the market at the various offerings (especially the PC/Windows offerings) I found a disturbing trend. Most of the devices have very limited storage space. Even Asus’ vaunted EEE Slate which comes with a maximum of 64GB of storage. Out of all of the tablets/slates on the market today the one with the largest amount of storage appears to be the Gigabyte S1080 with a whopping 320GB 5400 RPM HDD.

The problem seems to be one of not knowing where Tablets enter the market. To the manufacturer they seem to be an extension of the mobile phone. You can see this with the OS Choice. From Apple you have the IOS modified for the iPad while the majority of the rest of the market seems to feel that Android will fit the bill. Now this is not to say that I do not like Android or that I do not feel it is a great OS, but it is still a phone OS just like the iOS. These are limited functionality products that act as more of a gateway than an actual product.


To find out what people were looking for from this new and potentially great form factor I asked around in several different professional and consumer communities. What I found out was very interesting.

In my other life I work in the IT world and have professional contacts in just about every field I thought this would be an excellent place to kick things off so let’s look at what we found out.


Medical – Here the requirement is log battery life, FLASH (here that Apple?) and in many cases ActiveX. The primary use is to have something portable to carry around during rounds or when speaking with patients. Many of the Doctors I know have tried the iPad only to have them fail to meet requirements. The same can be said for Android tablets although they have flash they are missing many items (office is another requirement). Some say they can get by as long as there is a functional remote desktop application that is not overly expensive.

Engineering – Power and agility is key here. Most of the engineers that I spoke with do not mind having to plug in from time to time but need graphical and CPU power along with space to store the large PDFs, CAD Files and other graphical documents. For many of them the idea of only 32 or 64GB of storage space puts most slates out of consideration. There are also no versions of CAD for Android or iOS currently available.

IT – Well for the geeks, we really do not care too much as long as it can do everything we want and allow us to put everything we could possibly need onto it.

Photo/Videographers – Speed, power, memory and storage space is a must. To the prosumer level photographer and up, neither Android nor the iOS will do. For that matter for many Windows won’t do either. But a slate can be a benefit for a photographer in many ways, if you have the right combination of performance and storage. Sorry, but Photoshop lite just won’t cut it in the real world.

Consumers – Now here is where things get interesting; consumers really view tablets as mobile entertainment products. They want games, interesting apps, a decent web experience and the ability to connect to their favorite social media sties easily. Storage space is not much of a consideration until you start loading them up with Videos of any decent resolution. We looked at a 16GB iPad and found that you really only had room for about four or five 720P HD movies. Still both Android and the iOS are more than suitable here. Apple has a slight upper hand with the combination of iTunes and the iOS. Consumers have something of a one-stop-shop where they can get apps, movies and music tailor made for their iDevice. With Android things are a little more difficult, you have to get the content and then get it on your phone or tablet. Apps are easy, but the complete package is not quite ready. A Windows based tablet will only appeal to a small crowd, unless they understand the differences in hardware and also want to keep that Windows experience.

Now this is by no means the end all of consumer wants or needs. It does represent a decent sampling of a few different sub-markets for these devices. The slate faces a rough time ahead even with Apple paving the way with the iPad. It is a market that has the potential to explode with the right device. Now we have to see who is bold enough to build and sell that device. We already have one would-be king in the lab and are looking to get more in soon. We will be looking at each based on their individual merits and how well they really work when put to use. Look for the Asus EEE Slate EP121 as the first of these very soon.

Read 2358 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 April 2011 22:03

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