This blog issue reflects some of my thoughts about the requirements for a tablet.
What use is a tablet ?
As I noted previous, my wife suggested I start playing with her iPod to get a better handle as to what I might want to use a tablet for. Clearly due to both keyboard and also application functionality and file standard compatibility reasons, a Tablet would not serve to replace an Office nor a fully fledged laptop PC for the sort of office work that I do.
So again what possible use is a tablet ?
Now that I know how to interface GNU/Linux to my wife’s iPod Touch 3G, I thought that I would offer to upload movies to her iPod that she could watch. She noted she was NOT interested in movies on her iPod Touch 3G. Why ? She says its small at 7.5cm x 5 cm (with a 480x320 resolution) and the videos NOT bright enought (ie too dark). But I noticed her watching what I though were videos on her iPod Touch 3G. She stated, no, they were news videos and for news videos she is willing to accept a lower screen size/resolution.
I asked if she was interested in music videos or movie trailers (ie movie news) on her iPod Touch 3G and again she noted, no, screen quality was too poor.
From that I deduce in any Tablet (which with a ~ 25.5 cm (or ~ 10") screen size) in addition to having a larger presentation than her iPod Touch 3G also need a reasonable brightness. … That’s not a major issue I think, as most new Tablets are reasonably bright. But clearly screen quality in comparing Tablets may be a major issue in driving the functionality of the Tablet.
So something I thought useful, was not useful, and I had to go back to square one and get her opinion …
My wife’s use of iPod
My wife noted she uses her iPod to:
chat with friends using Skype via internet wireless - **email receipt **
examine email via internet wireless - **email reply **
provide very limited and short answers to email inquiry’s via internet wireless - news
watch the news via internet wireless - weather
check the weather via internet wireless via internet wireless - currency/stock prices
check currency prices (ie Euro vs US $ … or Euro vs UK pound) [hence useful for realtime tracking currency/stock market moves] where internet wireless is needed - parcel tracking
… my wife as a part-time 2nd job does parts procurement for a family company and she uses a parcel shipping application on the iPod to track items that she ships, … again internet wireless is needed - photo album
the iPod is useful for showing photos to friends. - **ebook reader **
read ebooks (although she noted she can not read for long as its hard on her eyes - much harder than with a nominal ebook reader) - public travel schedule
keep train and bus schedules … which may or may not require internet - she was not sure … - dictionary/translater
have a portable dictionary/translation device for a few different languages. Possibly even provide an audio output as to how a word is translated - address/contacts
use as a address/contact ‘ebook’ - calendar
use as a calendar/activity scheduler
So, for her use her iPod is in essence a portable wireless device (except when used as an ebook reader, photo-album, dictionary, train/bus schedule, contact/address book and portable calendar)
What my wife does NOT use iPod for
(but what might be useful)
So what does she NOT use her iPod Touch 3G for , which I think I might want to use a Tablet for ?
- **mp3 audio playback **
. She does not play back music audio nor audio books with her iPod. THAT was a surprise to me. Why ? Because she has a much smaller portable device which does that sort of audio playback just as good in her view…
. Neither my wife and I have a need for this sort of recording. Plus, one needs to plug in a microphone for it to work. Still, its an idea for those who like to record their observations/ideas/conversations.
. She does not play games on her iPod, although I noted ‘stockfish’ plays a pretty mean game of chess on the iPod, so I could see additionally using a Tablet as a gaming device in addition to playing movies (if screen was good enough). My wife notes this could be the biggest market for Tablets … ie the younger generation could end up taking the Tablet market by storm…
Surf the web
. She does not surf the Internet on her iPod Touch 3G. It is capable of doing that, and she will use it as such only in an emergency in say a restaurant/coffee-house that has a wireless, or at friends where to go check something on their computer is too slow…
. She does not use the ‘map’ function on her iPod Touch 3G as the map is too small, although I could see a Tablet being a very useful portable map (with its larger screen)…
. Again, the screen is too small for movies. But a Tablet shold be ok with its larger screen…
. Some TV is streamed over the internet. Again, the screen is too small for TV. But a Tablet shold be ok with its larger screen. Having stated that, I don’t watch TV, so this would not be a requirement for me…
. Noteably missing is the review of documents. Her iPod Touch 3G is too small to read technical documents (hence she does NOT check work email with the iPod). She noted even if it were big enough, the keypad is not good enough to interact technically in an email. Her view is the same is true for iPad2 and current Table screen keyboards. Not good enough for a proper email replay. wrt Tablets with an external keyboard they ‘might’ be useful for work IF the application for opening word documents, spreadsheets, presentations was good enough for editing. But given Tablets use either an iOS or Android, it appears the applications don’t support office work well…
Social internet media
Neither of us are ‘in’ to facebook, tweet ? or any of the other internet ‘social medial’ so that is something neither she nor I would use a Tablet for…
the card reader idea is where one takes a picture of a page of text and then run an OCR program on the picture of the text. If the functionality is reliable, this could be useful in a foreign country to understand the signs. But my wife’s foreign language abilities are better than mine, and she does not need such an app, while I might find it useful…
Photo/movie camera backup/storage
in addition to being a photo gallery, one could possibly copy one’s photos/movies on a Tablet direct from the camera IF the Tablets software allowed. In this case if the iPod (and possibly iPad) the hardware does not allow this. But for some Android Tablets I think this can be done…
Remote access to one’s home PC
If on the road, one could possibly acess their home PC from the road, to obtain important files that one had forgotten. I confess I can’t see this being useful for me, because we always turn our PCs OFF when not at home and we also prepare sufficiently for a trip that it is rare that we forget a file…
- **Banking applications **
If on the road one could do banking, although the security of doing such is likely highly questionable and hence not something we would likely use as we would be afraid of being hacked…
Travel information apps
. This lies sort of in-between an ebook reader and surfing the web, where some applications purport to have great information on travel : tourist sites, restaurants, hotels, etc … My wife’s experience with these are they are uniformaly very bad and both a waste of time and money. But maybe that has changed?
Next steps ?
The next steps for me are to look at what applications are available for the above for use in all of the following Tablet OS :MeeGo, Android, iPad (and possible Windows8 if it becomes more than vapourware) for a comparison. If iPad application advantage is not significant here then that means an Android or MeeGo tablet could be more competitive.