I was reading a quick post today from one of the few bloggers that I currently follow and, as usual, he had some good insight into some current technological trends… namely the growing inclusion of touch-screens on everything. His article is worth the read and it will pique your interest if this is something you at all care about (I realize the vast swathe of humanity out there really doesn’t :)…).
He also made a statement about how multi-monitor setups are crutches for those of us who don’t do good window management (I disagreed :)…). I went to write a “quick” response and realized I had a post on my hands. Happens every now and then…
You see, I have been in-and-around the tablet scene for several years now and have watched android grow from version 1.6 all the way up to 4.4. I have probably owned/used 40+ tablets in my time, mostly Android however a fair bit of Apple has been mixed in. I have also been doing hardcore IT work now for a while (going on 4 years I think?) and use a traditional desktop (ancient though they may be…) and laptop for most of that. So I have my feet firmly planted in both worlds. I agree that the idea of a converged device is probably where we are heading and I don’t necessarily have an issue with it. Anyhow, here was my response:
Couple of thoughts… Multi-monitor in my job (I have 3 side-by-side 21″ 4:3 screens in front of me right now) is an absolute essential. Like you I am constantly finding myself with about 50 or 60 tabs open in at least two browser windows for research, I am writing documentation on another screen while referencing this stuff, and I have an RDP session running into one or two servers at the same time as all of that. Yes, this can easily all be for a single project. I still find myself constantly having to shuffle windows though as I need to bring my email up through the day as well or switch documents I am working on, etc.
Anyhow, the eyestrain has been the hardest part because I have to sit a bit far back from all three monitors to really make good use of them so I a constantly having to scale text up or sometimes am stuck reading small print at a distance. I hate the toll it is taking on my vision but I couldn’t imagine trying to do the work without the extra screens.
Regarding tablet form-factor and touch screens vs. traditional mouse and keyboard… Amen… I think a Touch Screen on a device that is purely a laptop/ultrabook makes little sense.
I sell tablets and many newcomers to tablets ask interesting (and good) questions about what they can do with it…
My answer is usually along these lines:
Computers/Laptops = Creative / Production
Tablets = Consumption
I tried reading books on my laptop… that lasted a day. However if I can get a book on my tablet in the NOOK app I will take it 9 times out 10 vs. a hardbook copy as I am just so much more prone to read and finish it. If I am on a plane and want to watch a personal movie (not so much an issue I have found these days as the media selection on really long flights is simply staggering now…), I much prefer the portable formfactor and IPS screen of my Tablet vs. a Laptop. But lord knows if I have to start typing a document the tray table is coming down and the laptop is coming out.
So… that brings me to Windows 8 and 8.1… good thought but poorly executed. It would be great to have an operating system that can easily transition from one usage type to the other.
My ideal device (that doesn’t exist) is a device that I can easily transition from Tablet to Laptop and I am not sacrificing any functionality as a Laptop or Tablet because it serves both purposes. I know several manufacturers have tablet/laptop hybrids but I find that as both a laptop and a tablet the design usually sucks compared to a dedicated device of one or the other type. I want razor thin, lightweight, excellent battery life, wicked fast storage (and at least 160+ GB of it if I have to run windows) awesome keyboard and trackpad (and amen again on NO dedicated numpad) and a screen size of at least 14 – 15″. Furthermore I want a bloody ethernet port, at least on the keyboard base (call me old school but honestly I need this for work more often than not).
Give me a Windows 7 interface when I am using it as a laptop and disable the touchscreen during this type of usage… please. Give me all the new bells and whistles of Windows 8.1 though (you know, the ones that matter like Hyper-V…)… and when I disconnect the thing from the base, switch over to the Android interface but let me have read and perhaps “light” edit access to all those documents I am working on and also access to some important applications I use all the time like Outlook. Oh yeah, I want sickeningly good WiFi range too and really loud speakers. Finally, I want the whole thing, the WHOLE thing, to be sturdy enough that if I have to beat somebody over the head with it for telling me I am asking too much out a device that I can heartily do so and then walk away and still have a perfectly working device. Please also give me micro-HDMI out, a headphone jack, USB charging, wireless charging, and NFC while we are at it. Oh, and throw in 4G for good measure but don’t let that kill my battery life.
What’s that? $2500 you say? Gladly paid because it would be the last device I would need for the next 5 – 10 years. My home desktop running a Phenom II and 8 Gb of Ram and an SSD drive has been going about that long now I think and I don’t see an end in site as it still works great for 95% of what I do.
After writing that I realized that there are some devices out there that might sort-of / kind-of fit my interest. The Lenovo Ideapad Yoga is a device I played with a year ago and I was really quite impressed. It is a bit heavy/bulky compared to a pure tablet but that is something I could give a little-bit on.
I don’t find devices like the Surface 2 all that appealing though because the screen just isn’t big enough to really be useful as a laptop.
Anyhow, I welcome your thoughts on the matter!