Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tablet: Apple Will Make a Sub-9.7” iPad

Would you get a $400 (if we’re lucky, $350) iPad with about an 8” screen?  I would in a heart beat if we’re talking about having at least 16 GB of storage.  And I think Apple will make it so.  So, that means I am disagreeing with Steve Jobs on this point.

Let’s refresh a bit.  Steve Jobs, a year and a half ago, blasted the 7” tablets that were just beginning to go on sale, in particular, the 7” Galaxy Tab from Samsung.  I would have to agree with Steve that that particular tablet sucked.  It was just a smartphone OS in a tablet.  And even today’s Honeycomb, Android 3, doesn’t measure up to what iPad’s iOS can do and, in terms of usability, doesn’t come close.

However, we have to examine what Android 4 means.  So far, we haven’t really seen a tablet with Android installed.  I think it’ll be awesome compared to what we’ve seen from the Android camp so far.  And iOS 6 should look about the same as iOS 5 on the iPad.  But my point is this.  While the iPad with its 10” screen is definitely better as far as viewing media, productivity, and general computing use goes, I’ve seen enough proof that a 7”, 8”, or even a 9” tablet can come close as far as allowing the user to be satisfied with them.

I spent a lot of time with the Galaxy Tab 8.9 and I was blown away.  As far as the OS is concerned, Android 3 doesn’t have it and it’s too complicated compared to iOS and even Web OS.  But as far as tapping on icons and general typing goes, it’s doable.  It’s even doable on a 7” tablet like the Kindle Fire.  Yeah, I spent time with the Fire as well.  With the 7” tablet, you definitely cannot type with both hands like you can with the iPad but you might be able to get away with it if you don’t have gigantic hands on an 9” screen.

So, giant fingers and filing them down aside, here are five reasons why I think Apple has found a way to make it work with a sub-10” tablet.

First, split keyboards.  Apple has instituted split keyboards on the iPad.  You can now type and hold they iPad in portrait mode and not worry about overreaching with your thumbs.  It’s very reasonable to expect that when (no longer if) Apple releases a smaller iPad, the split keyboard will be featured prominently.

Second, reading on the iPad is something folks do a lot of.  I’m not talking about ebooks but reading pages on the browser.  With the Reader function, the user can now access text on the Webpage without having to double tapp or try to zoom in.  I mean, if you can read a Webpage, tap the links, and multitouch your way on an iPhone, why not a 7” or 8” iPad?  And with the reader function, it becomes massively easier.

Thirdly, if typing is an issue, there is Siri.  Well, not Siri but the dictation function.  I find the dictation on the iPhone 4S very good, even superior to Dragon Dictate on the iOS and it’ll get better over time as well.

Fourth reason is that Apple is meticulous.  Painstakingly so.  It will not release a half-baked product.  It did release Siri as a beta because it had no choice:  Apple needed public participatioin to help make Siri better.  However, with its other products, Apple doesn’t release them until perfection is achieved.

I don’t find carrying about the iPad difficult.  It’s light.  Lighter than my Macbook Air and at times, with the wonderful battery life, it’s my choice of mobile weapon when I venture out.  I see a lot of mobile warriors carry around an iPad instead of their laptops.  I reckon a smaller iPad could help expand the tablet market further.

So, I’ll hold off a bit and continue to use my original iPad (we do have an iPad 2 but the original iPad has a special place in my heart) and see what Apple offers as far as a smaller iPad goes.

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