Tuesday, January 5, 2010
iSlate - Do want?
I'm a Mac. I don't care a bit about anybody's argument that Apple products are expensive. I use my computers so much the price per hour of use is pennies. Compare: I've put over 245,000 miles on my car and if I convert that to miles and divide by the price of my car it's still well over $5 per hour for my Honda (another brand I stick with). I don't see all those people with cheap computers driving unreliable cheap cars.
That said, I don't fanatically buy every new product Apple introduces. I determine if it fills a need first. My iMac met a lot of my requirements. The small footprint works on my narrow bar. Using a laptop was not ergonomically right for my space. Plus the heat vents out of the keyboard. While that would be nice today, most of the time it's hot here. So I got myself an iMac. I also used that laptop on my TV as my loft computer, but it was non-ideal. The ticket there is a Mac mini, so I got one of those.
But when the iPhone came out I didn't get one. They didn't allow using your phone as a modem to connect to the internet. At the time that was my only way to get online from home, over the AT&T cell tower at the end of my driveway. When I lost my job and was faced with being home all the time I got DSL. But then I wasn't out and about much and didn't need an iPhone because I could just do all the same stuff on the computer here or on my mostly adequate Nokia Symbian smartphone if I happened to leave the house. I don't want to lose my grandfathered-in $19 unlimited data plan. I know they charge more since the iPhone came out.
Last summer I tried out a Macbook Air on a trip to Atlanta. I like my IM, so I wondered if I could sit in a coffee shop and chat with my friends. Turns out it's not that easy to get onto somebody's WiFi network. Half the time I found I had to connect with Bluetooth to my Nokia cell phone and use that to get to the internet anyway, in which case why not just use the phone? I decided an iPhone would be more useful than a Macbook Air for that kind of casual use. And if I'm taking a computer on a trip I might want to do actual work, so I would like a big useful screen, like a 17" Macbook Pro. But only if I'm traveling a lot.
I chat with friends with Blackberries and iPhones on IM. The iPhone user complains about it but the Blackberry guy doesn't. This doesn't make me want a Blackberry, it just makes me think the iPhone is too hard to type on. But how much bigger does it have to be for a successful touch screen typing experience?
This is going to be the make or break feature on the iSlate for me. I will get it instead of an iPhone if I can pull it out when I'm waiting in line at the grocery store or killing time while they fix my take-out. I will get it instead of a Macbook if I can use it for IM and to research and compose this blog if I get a real job with a computer behind a firewall.
If I can connect one of my bluetooth keyboards to it and use it to visit on IM while I'm watching internet TV on the mini hooked to the big TV, then that's gold too. Since I upgraded to Snow Leopard the zoom feature that lets me read text from 6 feet away has gone a little flakey. It jumps around randomly. If I could read up close and watch video and have speakers at a distance I think that's more ideal. Better exercise for the old eyeballs to have different focal distances.
If Apple hasn't planned for the iSlate to work together with another computer as a secondary display I think that will really upset me.
If they haven't included a camera and a mic so it can be used for video conferencing then that was a fail. That is just so obvious I can't see how they would leave that out. iChat is one of the best apps Apple has. It works when everything else doesn't.
Somebody should go ahead and figure out a way to make an origami iSlate stand and post the instructions online. If I had investment capital I could capture the market on lexan plate stands. I'd print some stickers that say "iS" and put them over the "p" and get in the Apple store before the actual tablet.