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Tablets at CES 2010

January 10, 2010

In attending this year’s CES and listening to the commentary on Engadget about tablet computers, I think commentators are thinking about this type of device in the wrong way.

I saw a and played with a device like the viliv S10 (there are also similar devices like the ASUS Eee PC T91 that I did not play with) and thought this would make a cheaper, lighter replacement for my TouchSmart TX2. Others see this device and say “Why would use this instead of a laptop?”

My answer to that question is that there are some circumstances around the house when it is more convenient, comfortable and natural to want to use a tablet instead of a laptop, e.g. when surfing the web on a couch or checking things off a list before a shopping trip.

I view the ability to use a PC as a tablet as additional notebook PC functionality akin to a nice graphics card to play games, or an HDMI port to connect it to a HDTV. This functionality is worth a premium in some instances, e.g. the PC we keep in our media room, but not in others, a PC that never moves from a desk.

In these roles, applications crafted for touch aren’t essential, although they might broaden the circumstances in which I would want to use it in tablet mode instead of laptop mode. Specifically, in using my TouchSmart TX2, I’ve found handwriting recognition to be a waste of time, and using the stylus for most applications is the way to go, although scrolling by swiping a finger is more convenient than using the stylus and a scroll bar. It would be nice of some of this touch functionality improved, but the current state of affairs is good enough to justify at least one tablet notebook PC in our house for the $250 premium that functionality seems to carry.

I do wish, however, that our Touchsmart were lighter, thinner and cheaper. If the under 3 lb. viliv S10 sells for the promised $700 or less then I would seriously consider purchasing its instead of the TX2. The only thing that would stop me is finding that some hardware element of the S10 made it less usable than the TX2. But aside from that I would, happily trade a smaller screen, slower processor for $300 and two fewer pounds of weight.


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