Tablet, Tablet, Tablet…

Note: Peter Barnette was the main author of this article, i polished it up for him and added some ideas (But also reworded some stuffs for him).
Could you write about the tablet and whether this touch format will be dominant and long lasting, or just a step on a broader journey like netbooks?
Netbooks came about due to the OLPC project, which instead spread like wild fire through the consumer community due to small portable size and extremely low price. As prior to the netbook craze, ultraportable laptops were considered a computing luxury that commanded a premium price. So basically netbook craze changed the consumer perception about size and cost, small laptops no longer have to cost 2000 or 3000 dollars. However, deep down netbooks were just another laptop, albeit a cheaply priced laptop with slightly lower specifications to match. People still ran Windows or Linux like they do on the larger laptops and still the range of applications that they would normally would use.

Tablets have been around for a long time, first ThinkPad was actually a Tablet. But most of these touch based device never took off due to size, cost, weight, short battery life and poor application support. The idea of tablet taking off only came about when Apple iPhone and iPod Touch came to the market, here you have a device that had long lasting battery life, responsive to touch interaction, smooth graphics flow, gorgeous design, and more importantly it has a large range of apps to give the device more utility. So having a larger iPhone or iPod Touch seems to be a natural progression of things. iPad came to the market by offering a solid hardware, great industrial design, trove of applications and more importantly an eager crowd of people whom wants to purchase it at any cost. So basically you have the perfect ecosystem setup for a device that is nothing but a large iPhone, but the ways each element of the ecosystem interacted with each made it a dominant product in the industry.

As long as the different companies that sell tablets can get the right mix of ecosystem, product design and user demographics, then it will have success. The implementation of cloud computing, better battery life and apps that gives compelling user experience (i.e. apps tailored for Tablet and not ported one from PC OS), then the Tablet will curve out a market niche greater than the market size of smartphone and netbooks combined.

Why were you a tablet convert, such that you are openly pledging to evangelise its use?

I’m not so much as a tablet convert just yet, but i can envision where it will go and how it will pan out. For me the current tablet offerings just don’t have quite have enough CPU/GPU processing that i wish it could of have, furthermore the softwares/apps are not where it should be in terms of depth and usefulness. So basically it is not going to replace my ThinkPad just yet, it could in the future but not quite just yet. Regarding the Evangelist gig, it was something Jin Li (lead_org) put me up to, as we both believe in the cause of evangelising Lenovo brand in the wider community. For you interested reader out there, me and lead_org have something great planned for the Lenovo community, so that we can push for that number one spot in the PC industry (go go Lenovo). The idea of brand or product evangelists are nothing new, it is quite prevalent in the IT industry, there are some great evangelists (like Guy Kawasaki, etc) that had been really successful in driving their messages to the brand consumers. However, the type of evangelists me and Jin Li have envisioned are quite different, but i don’t want to give away too much of the game, but expect some fabulous things to happen in the coming months. Regarding why i used the title Lenovo Tablet Evangelist, it is quite simple this is the my core part of my IT skill sets and as an volunteer, i only have limited time to contribute to the community. As such i need to find my niche in the community and set up a support ecosystem that will have impact, where i can contribute as an expert and won’t dilute my time spent or concentration. Also, other people maybe a better contributors to other areas of forum and they may have better competency in them. Basically i do not want to be the jack of all trade, and expert of non. So basically Lenovo Tablet Evangelist is the title that i decided to use after much consultation with my friend Jin Li, and it is here to stay.

How do you think the tablet trend will evolve?

The tablets trend will evolve in terms of hardware, by having more memory, better CPU/GPU and better battery, etc. However, the real evolution of the tablet trend will occur in the software side, the idea of SaaS (software as a service) and the idea of ecosystem. Those that have the strongest ecosystem will be the winner in this race to the top, the hardware not so much, as they are more or so less the same.

What are some of the things users need to look out for or check before buying one?

It all depends on what you the consumer wants or needs. ie: big or small screen size, scratch resistance or anti-glare, little space or a lot of space, decent cam or great cam, front and back cam or doesn’t matter, lots or RAM or just enough, 3G or not, GPS or you don’t need it, card reader and/or other connections. All of these factors come into play when choosing the right tablet for yourself.

How do you feel when you go into the IdeaPad tablet board and see a sea of questions? And you help solve them?

As an evangelist i want to go and help each and every one of these members with their questions, i don’t want to leave any stone unturned or leave anyone feeling disappointed. This is one reason why i choose the Lenovo Tablet Evangelist gig, as it is manageable in size by one person on a volunteer basis, and it also allow me to make meaning for these small subset of Lenovo consumers and ‘enchant’ them.

Do you think tablets will eventually rule the world?

Tablet could become more powerful and the role of which will expand, due to the implementation of faster wireless network connection and the use of cloud computing. However, it will not rule the world, as ultimately you could have device that directly interacts with your mental process, which will do away with tablet’s touch based system all together. But right now technology for these sort of human and computer interactions are still in its infancy, and would take at least another 20 to 30 years of R&D to get anywhere useful.

Is there a specific audience most suited to its use?

Is there a specific audiences that is most suited to smart phone use? the answer is probably no. So as such tablets should find a wide range of audience with its many applications and software services it offer. Obviously, you can use it as an ebook reader, web browser, portable movie player and music player, basically a device for consuming digital media. But as people get better at programming, with more powerful hardware and better OS platform, there is no real limit to what it can do. The only limit is the programmers’ imagination, ability, and the market size. However, in the current tablet market there will definitely be specific audience for for different tablets, as there are different ecosystems available. Let me give you a case in point, Kindle Fire will attract Amazon customers, while iPad will attract Apple product users and Apple iPhone users, while Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet will attract certain IT and business demographics.

How has it changed your life?

Ideapad K1 tablet did not change my life, but rather it enriched my life. It gave me more freedom to do other things that my ThinkPad T500 did not allow. I can read an ebook as if it is the real book, watch flash media without having to carry around 6 pounds behemoth, do simple web browsing. A good device does not have to change your life, it simply needs to enrich it and make it more meaningful. Certainly the IdeaPad K1 tablet have both enriched and made my life simpler as a digital media connoisseur.


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