Consumers are first casualty of the iPad Generation

Razr sharp, not Razr smart

Remember the good ole days when our smart phones weren’t so smart? Not so long ago, wanting your phone to run multiple applications at once was a laughable request, but nowadays this is approaching the norm. With the passing of time, more and more of our phones and other handheld devices are capable of keeping multiple web pages open and running simultaneous apps with ease.

When apple released their iPad, a frenzy that dwarfs shark week begun among tech savvy consumers everywhere. The iPad was a pioneer in an untapped market, and since its release, many other manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and producing very similar products called slates. You may know the iPad to be a tablet, but it really isn’t; anything that is an iPad or resembling an iPad is a slate, not a tablet. This constant misnaming of these devices is having a detrimental effect on the consumer electronics market, but we’ll get into that a little more in a little bit. So, just like we wanted multitasking on our smart phones, being the smart people we are, pressured slate makers to follow suit and make their devices capable of doing more than one thing a time. Many developers were more than happy to oblige, while others remain seated very tightly over their hands. But for these slates specifically, multi-tasking is not a new thing at all. In fact a very close relative to the Slate has been playing the multi-tasking game for many years, and to this day still much more efficient in doing so.

Keyboard Included

Hewlett Packard has a tablet laptop called the HP Touchsmart tx2. The difference between a tablet laptop like the touchsmart and a slate like the iPad is that the tablet opens up like a normal laptop (having keyboard and trackpad) and then the screen rotates a full 180 degrees and folds over the keyboard making it a slate on command, whereas the iPad is permanently a slate, where the primary keyboard is an on screen virtual keyboard and a computer mouse is out of the question. The beauty of using the touchsmart to perform the same tasks as the iPad is that the touchsmart is an actual computer. Its ability to multitask is based of its Random Access Memory (RAM), technology that was first used in early computers developed in the late 1960’s. You can actually open two windows, lets say a blank Microsoft Word Document and a Google Chrome browser page and using the Windows 7 Snap feature, you can literally view both applications simultaneously. With this combo, you can read information from a webpage and record your opinion of it while having both apps viewable on your screen at the same time. Your iPad? Well, it can open a word processing application and the internet too, but you can’t view both items at the same time like your RAM toting tablet can. Multitasking slates and other handheld devices today are only capable of running an application, hiding it in the background, and then opening another. Running a program in the background is not profound, inconvenient, and often hard to utilize for a specific purpose like writing a research paper (keep in mind, we aren’t even considering the ergonomic nightmare that comes from that ugly virtual keyboard).

So what I’m saying here is very obvious: computers are better than slates. We all want our devices to do more than one thing at a time, and when it comes to portable, touchscreen devices, you can’t go wrong when you are running a true computer operating system (like Windows 7) that uses tried and proven computer components like RAM. Colleges around the country are slowly beginning to require these tablet computers like the touchsmart for everyday use in class. Their ability to provide exceptionally portability with providing an easy way to send and receive drawings through email by eliminating the need for paper (a green solution) and also the need for a scanner (a time and money saving solution). Because of this, these devices provide a double edged positive and again outperform the iPad because it can’t take hand written notes or precision drawings because there are no stylus products that can provide the accuracy needed for these tasks. When you compare a device that resembles an over sized mp3 player to a full fledged computer, the computer is going to win 100% of the time.

Coming soon to pay-per-view

Even though we know that one device is much better than the other, pricing and exceptional advertising is what made the public swarm to the iPad over true tablet devices. Since Apple blew the doors off of the slate market, any technology company that you can name either has a slate on the market or is moving to put one there. As a technology writer, it has been my goal to inform consumers that the slate is not a suitable replacement for an actual computer, and if you really want a large touchscreen device, money is well spent on a tablet laptop instead. Unfortunately, this fad has gone just a little too far; a market that is still essentially in its infancy is starting to ruin a market that has been around for almost 10 years. The HP touchsmart computer is a great device that I have encouraged fellows of mine to purchase instead of a large mp3 player. The problem now is that consumers are spending so much money on slates, that many previous tablet companies are replacing their stock of tablets with slates. If you go to the HP website, you can’t find the touchsmart tablet because it no longer exists; it has been replaced by a new product called the HP touchpad, which is, as you probably already guessed, a slate device.

exaggerated use of the word downgrade

This is absolutely a huge problem for our future. HP has completely downgraded their amazing tablet laptop devices in lieu of these new significantly downgraded slate devices. Replacing RAM with multitasking, and keyboards for virtual keyboards, and any port you love your current computer (such as ethernet, video out, USB) with nothing. Companies like best buy have confirmed that computers sales are down while slate sales are performing exponentially better. Computer Engineers and Computer Scientists are working on new computing technologies that make computers more powerful and more capable. It seems that this new growing trend are replacing computer technology that is providing a rampant downgrade of personal computing technology. It is not hard to realize the repercussions of this widespread downgrade and the negative effects that will result. There are great alternatives that satisfy the current consumer lust for touchscreen devices while maintaining all of the raw power of current computer technologies. We as consumers need to quit casting our dollar vote on these slate devices and shift our attention to the workhorses that drive american educations and businesses.

What is your opinion? Are slate devices good for the future of computing? Leave a comment below and let us know!