Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Tablet Picks Up Where the Netbook Left Off

The netback has gone the way of the Dodo, but there is no need to fret. Cheaper computing is here to stay. Actually, it got a whole lot cheaper.

While tablets are cool these days, they are going to become the next Netbook. Everyone will have one and the coolness factor will get lost quickly. However, unlike Netbooks tablets have a decent ecosystem of apps specifically built for them so they actually promise to be more and more productive devices over time. So unlike the Netbook which reminded you each day that it was not a real laptop, the cheap tablet promises not to disappoint. The Netbook was something which you felt like no one really wanted to sell, and were placeholders for bad economic times. Ultimately, Intel and the OEM's would phase them out when and than we would all go back to buying more expensive laptops. This is not going to happen.

Asus branding, Google Android OS, less than 7K price.

Android tablets are the cheapest personal computers ever. Ainol, Arnova, Azpen, Cherry Mobile, Coby, Ekotek, Haipad, iView, Karbonn, KNC, PIPO, Move, Timeplus, Tourque and Xenon will all give you 7 to 10-inch tablets for less than Php10,000, with the cheapest ones starting at Php3,490. With Asus joining this low cost market with its Php6,495 Asus Memo Pad ME172v, how long will it be before Acer and Samsung join the fray.  Netbooks never got this cheap. Apple's new 7.9-inch iPad is really nicely built. Starting a Php15,900, it gives you a product with a premium build and premium label at a reasonable price. It is something you can take with you to a board meeting. This is something you could not do with a Netbook.

The absence of a physical keyboard does limit the productivity of a Tablet. But it does not seem like people miss the keyboard. It is easy enough to mate a keyboard with a tablet. Given the low number of keyboard docks in the market, I can only surmise there is little demand. The stylus is making a comeback, and who knows, with the right software, we may begin to start writing documents, instead of typing them. Basically, if more productivity is demanded, tablets can easily fill that space.

This Belkin Apple iPad accessory can convert your tablet into a laptop like device.

I have not jumped on the tablet revolution, but I am an old dog. After twenty years on a computer, I am adept at keyboard shortcuts, and am a whiz with the touchpad. Give me a good keyboard, set the touchpad at the fastest speeds and I can navigate a desktop quicker than with a touchscreen. But like I said, I am an old dog. Even an old dog like me might wind up with something like the Microsoft Surface RT in the future, well unless laptop manufactures do something about it... and they are.

A bit more than two years ago, paying a fairly large sum for a MacBook Air or Sony Viao which combined a 13-inch screen with a nice less than 4-pound shell seemed like a bargain. Today, you can get equally portable packages at half the price.

The Netbook is dead. This off-shoot of the one laptop per child dream is all but gone. But its legacy is here to stay. Who ever thought we would have Apple to thank for the next round of cheap computing.

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