Troubled tablets? RIM's 'BlackPad,' HP's Win 7 slate
Now that Apple's shown how to make a tablet computer a mass-market phenomenon with the iPad (coming to Target Oct. 3), everybody else apparently wants to get into the market.
But not everybody else will succeed. Google's Android operating system -- if manufacturers can resist the temptation to screw it up -- could work well on a tablet. So could another mobile-optimized system, HP's recently acquired Palm webOS.
I'm not sure about the tablet that BlackBerry maker Research In Motion will supposedly unveil next week. Popularly nicknamed the "BlackPad," this device -- to judge from reports such as PC World's summary -- will combine a 7-inch touchscreen and video-conferencing cameras. It could also feature a slide-out keyboard.
But it will also apparently run on a new operating system -- not the BlackBerry 6 software RIM just launched to great fanfare on the BlackBerry Torch. Sure, BlackBerry 6 isn't all that great. But a replacement operating system will offer an even worse selection of add-on programs unless it can run older titles in some sort of compatibility mode (usually an awkward experience).
Then there's the Windows 7 slate computer that Hewlett-Packard showed off at CES in January, then seemed to have forgotten. Yesterday, Engadget pointed to a video tour of a prototype that suggests this thing hasn't died -- but may meet that fate once it ships.
The product on display in that clip seems to exhibit the same faults I saw in prototype slates at CES: It runs a conventional Windows interface that has been modified, clumsily, to accept touch input. Note, for instance, how the onscreen keyboard doesn't open when the guy in the demo selects Internet Explorer 8's address bar. And what's up with a dedicated Ctrl-Alt-Del key on the side of the thing?
The HP slate looks sleek enough. But just building a shinier box and sticking the same old software in it won't work -- that's the thinking that brought us the woeful BlackBerry Storm.
What's your forecast for either of these two devices? Where do you think the iPad's best competition will come from?
| September 24, 2010; 3:22 PM ET
Categories: Gadgets, Mobile, Windows
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