While much of the American and world economies are flat and struggling, the big names in mobile tech have somehow managed to field ever faster and more capable computing devices. And, these things are wild.
Asus has its new Transformer Prime model. This speed demon sports Nvidia’s Tegra 3, quad-core chip, running at 1.3 Ghz. The device has 1 GB of RAM, WiFi, a 1280×800 display, and an 8 MP backside camera. Engadget gave it an in-depth review, with lots of details. Price point for the Prime has been set at $499. It should be in stores over the next few weeks.
Lenovo claims that its hi-po tablet with the Tegra 3, running at 1.6 Ghz, will materialize in the first quarter of 2012. It’s supposed to have 2 GB of RAM, a fingerprint scanner, and a standard USB connector. The Asus only has one on the optional keyboard dock. We can probably expect the Lenovo price to be comparable to the Asus.
Do you think these machines will disrupt everyday computing both at home and in business?
I do and here’s why!
Anybody who’s stopped by the Apple store or used a high-end (currently, anyway) tablet knows that these slick, lightweight, touch-screen computers can access thousands of apps, Web pages, videos, email, and virtually anything else on the Web or a network with a simple sweep of the finger. The displays are clear and colorful. Connecting to an access point is a no-brainer and browsing websites is intuitive and fast.
How will this change computing?
Like the smartphone, a tablet is all solid state and engineered to come to life quickly.
Think back to the good old days, when you’d boot that notebook and start Firefox to browse the Web. My 2.26 Ghz duo-core, 4 GB RAM powered Asus notebook can certainly surf my favorite sites quickly and display YouTube videos without trouble. The machine is four pounds, the battery lasts for about two hours max, and it uses a keyboard/mouse user interface.
Contrast that with a tablet.
Just touch the power button and the screen lights up. Punch the browser icon on the screen to get to your home page and start surfing. It’s as simple as that.
The same thing happens with other applications. I touch-type pretty quickly, but the simple act of moving my hand from the keyboard to the mouse and back really slows me down when I’m trying to find things on the Web.
Tablets have an ever-bigger advantage than Web-enabled smartphones. They have better displays.
My Samsung Galaxy S smartphone has a beautiful Super AMOLED 480×800 pixel display, with literally millions of colors and great contrast. One drawback is that it can’t show a full width, standard Web page. That’s a problem when viewing non-mobile formatted content. Modern websites are typically anywhere from about 800 pixels wide on up. That means most of my regular surfing on my smartphone, even when turned sideways, requires that I two finger zoom in and out to see everything on a page. Of course the fact that I stopped counting years at 39, a while back, doesn’t help the matter much.
The new Asus has a 10.1 inch display with 1280×800 resolution. That translates into no more zooming on full-sized Web pages again speeding up my browsing considerably.
Go Anywhere Capability
I’ve been on laptops/notebooks for the last 20 years, and they’ve never been convenient to use while walking around the house, outside on the patio, or in the van. That’s about to change, too.
Being lightweight and instant-on, tablets lend themselves well to being used on the go. As long as you have WiFi connectivity, you can cruise the Web from anywhere. Of course, I expect 3G and 4G to show up soon. The iPad offers a 3G version now. Cell connectivity depends on how the carriers work deals with the tablet manufacturers. I think pricing the service is holding up progress on this front. Over time it will have to be worked out. Nevertheless, carrying your tablet around in the house or office gives you constant contact with any information you need. Want to check email? It’s there on a bright clear screen. Want to make a video call? Fire up Skype and have at it. Watch a movie? Yup, that’s easy too.
All these capabilities add up to wonderful new experiences. The first-generation iPads and tablets were pretty impressive. I think we’re about to be hit by a tidal wave of new ways to use computers as tablets integrate themselves into our lives.
It’ll be interesting. You just watch.