Monday, May 07, 2012

Capacity Focus, 42: the US$100 tablet plus keyboard (in a "folio"?) is here already -- if you are willing to accept a restistive screen and stylus, much as is used with game devices

This morning -- Labour Day here --  I was curious about developments in the tablet and keyboard market. 

An interesting development was the Lenovo ThinkPad tablet plus folio keyboard case with an optical version of the well-known ThinkPad eraser-head mini joystick from IBM days. Folded-up, side-view:

 There are of course a few hiccups, as can be expected with any newish technology: it is tricky to get the tablet in/out of the cradle and the keyboard adds considerable size and weight. (Though, we are getting spoiled a bit when 2 1/2 lbs or so is now "too heavy.")

My verdict is that it would be nice to walk with one of those, and I could see slipping out the tablet for reading, browsing, Skype-ing (I just signed up on that -- on a Jolicloud Linux partition, impressive . . . ), light email or note-taking, shooting a digital snapshot, etc. But if you need to write seriously, pull up the keyboard. 

I like the idea.

But then, I am a lifelong Swiss Army Knife fan (thank you, KHS), and like Leatherman-style multi-tools, too:

Multitools: Roman (note the pivoting spoon and three prong fork as well as separate knife blade), Swiss Army (Victorinox) and Leatherman
(My Netbook bag has a Leatherman knock-off in one side pocket, a mini headphone with boom mike in another, and  I sometimes put in a mini tacklebox -- sold as a pencil case -- with a cluster of tools. A Swiss Army Offiziermesser can come along for the ride. I have my eye on a single-penlight battery LED flashlight, too. Add matching 0.5 mm clutch pencil and pen clipped to eyeglass case and wallet plus bandana and we're good to go.)

However, the relevant issue isn't about what is going to set us back US$ 500 or so.

The issue is the US$100 barrier, which is a definite sweet spot for something that can be a book-bag and library plus web browser and document processor plus for education purposes.

Blogger dgm comments, in a Feb 15th 2012 post:
In a reply to a comment on my recent post on whether or not we are living in a post-pc world I mentioned these 7" android netbooks out of china that periodically turn up on ebay and dhgate.

Who, if anyone, buys them, I don't know, but they would appear to give you some basic functionality at a low price - web, skype, email and so on.

While looking for something else I noticed a new development. As well as the android netbooks there's a slew of 7" android tablets out of China. Obviously the sub $100 ones will have resistive screen etc but based on
my zPad experience there's no reason to believe that they would be in any way less than the experience of using a brand name device.

The interesting thing is that these are increasingly being offered with an adapter that gives a couple of standard USB ports and a wired network port. ie you can plug in one of these roll up keyboards and a mouse and you've got the functionality of an android netbook.

Pack them away and you've got a tablet. And if you've got a resistive screen and a stylus you probably don't mind the smaller screen. (After all people successfully used palm pilots which had a much smaller screen to write emails and take notes) . . . . 

the really interesting thing about this phenomenon is the price. The no name tablet plus foldable keyboard bundle usually come in at around $100 before shipping and taxes which has definite implications for tablet adoption and using them as simple note takers and educational devices ...


US$100 price-point tablets for note taking and education.

Just as I have been discussing. 

Of course, what would be even more interesting is if the price of the capacitive touchscreen could come down to the level where we can hit the US$100 sweet-spot from the other end. Though, to be truthful, using a stylus is not the end of the world.

Bottomline: the US$100 tablet suitable for education is here and/or will soon be here, opening up a revolutionary education opportunity. 

So, will we get ourselves ready to surf the wave, or will we be swamped by it?  END