Today Flashback Universe presents a unique slant on the illustrious; much rumored, and often hyped, (every digital techno nerd's fantasy come true) mobile hand held computing device. Called many things: iTablet, WebTablet, iPad, HandHeld, & even the wifi touchscreen multi media device, rumors of it's near existence saturating the Internet make it the next SMALL thing in the field of Internet usability.
"We are working to develop new products that contains technologies that our competition will not be able to match. I cannot discuss these new products, but we are very confident in our product pipeline.
Apple believes that the software is the key ingredient. We believe that we are many years ahead of the competition and we welcome any and all competition as long as they do not step on our Intellectual Property.
We plan to deliver state-of-the-art products that I cannot discuss today and are very excited about the products in our pipeline." ~ZDNet
With pictures, pattens, announcements, the lack of announcements, and even phony viral video footage all over the Internet for the last sixteen months the iTablet is definitely the largest & hottest tablet rumor all over the web. Seemingly developed as an extension to Apple's all ready successful mobile device department, the iTablet seeks to fill a niche most would label "needed". All who wait patiently, and some who don't, hope that they'll be able to do 85% of what a desktop will do but on the go while using the iTablet. This includes movies, music, COMICS, ebooks, content management, and even a camera has been mentioned.
Heat Factor: 10
It's HOT. You couldn't really avoid hearing about the iTablet even if you wanted to! People want it yesterday, some want to develop for it seeing $$$, and some are clambering Apple for it on an almost daily basis.
Vaporware Quotient: 1
It's NOT vaporware (to the best of our knowledge). There has been far too much information about it's hardware and other physical technology, including new pattens and many unnamed sources, for this hot item to fizzle into obscurity.
Kill Factor: 8
The general consensus across the Internet is that it will KILL all other tablets currently being developed right now. Sadly, this may include it's little brother the iPod for lots of people. It will also most likely be a huge contributor to the oncoming Paper Comic Apocalypse in 2012 (as predicted by the Mayans.)
"Courier is a real device, and we've heard that it's in the "late prototype" stage of development. It's not a tablet, it's a booklet. The dual 7-inch (or so) screens are multitouch, and designed for writing, flicking and drawing with a stylus, in addition to fingers. They're connected by a hinge that holds a single iPhone-esque home button. Statuses, like wireless signal and battery life, are displayed along the rim of one of the screens. On the back cover is a camera, and it might charge through an inductive pad, like the Palm Touchstone charging dock for Pre.
Until recently, it was a skunkworks project deep inside Microsoft, only known to the few engineers and executives working on it—Microsoft's brightest, like Entertainment & Devices tech chief and user-experience wizard J. Allard, who's spearheading the project. Currently, Courier appears to be at a stage where Microsoft is developing the user experience and showing design concepts to outside agencies." ~Gizmodo
Well, if the commenters at Engadget are anything to go by, this concept video pretty much sold them on the device.
Unfortunately, during his interview with Engadget, Steve Ballmer said he had never seen the video and claimed to have no knowledge of any plans of making such a device.
The ability to be able to read comics two pages at a time would be cool, as it would preserve the beloved two page splash, but the screens look tiny. Turning the device would give you a big one page viewing are, but that hinge strip in the middle sort of plays havoc with reading comics tall.
"I’m tired of waiting – I want a dead simple and dirt cheap touch screen web tablet to surf the web. Nothing fancy like the Dell latitude XT, which costs $2,500. Just a Macbook Air-thin touch screen machine that runs Firefox and possibly Skype on top of a Linux kernel. It doesn’t exist today, and as far as we can tell no one is creating one. So let’s design it, build a few and then open source the specs so anyone can create them.
Here’s the basic idea: The machine is as thin as possible, runs low end hardware and has a single button for powering it on and off, headphone jacks, a built in camera for video, low end speakers, and a microphone. It will have Wifi, maybe one USB port, a built in battery, half a Gigabyte of RAM, a 4-Gigabyte solid state hard drive. Data input is primarily through an iPhone-like touch screen keyboard. It runs on linux and Firefox. It would be great to have it be built entirely on open source hardware, but including Skype for VOIP and video calls may be a nice touch, too." ~TechCrunch
While the above statement implies that the Crunchpad's development has been born out of necessity. The buzz surrounding it is really more indicative of a fanboy's dream machine come to life as the device has been spearheaded largely by a single individual not particularly known for hardware. Like the iTablet the Crunchpad has also permiated the internet over the last sixteen months with pictures, video, and plenty of speculation over it's intended use, it's intended market, and price point which seems to continue to climb.
It started out hot. The announcement of the Crunchpad were quickly followed with doubt and speculation, most of it surrounding the area of hardware production, many bloggers stating that it was MUCH harder than people thought.
Unfortunately, with climbing potential costs, plenty of setbacks, missed target dates, and missed announcements its looking more and more like the Crunchpad may very well be Vaporware.
Wile originally presented as a hybrid webcomputer the Crunchpad is looking more and more like a fancy netbook built on an unfamiliar operating system, with flashy underpowered hardware that will get killed by some, if not most, of the other mobile handheld products out there unless the price point comes way down.
The ARCHOS 9 PC Tablet:
NOTE: This is not a prototype or a concept design. This is an actual device that can be purchased now.
ARCHOS once again is leading the way in innovation with the introduction of the Netbook of the future, the ARCHOS 9 PCtablet. The new ARCHOS 9 PCtablet combines the performance of a high end netbook with breathtaking aesthetics, excellent ergonomics and a tactile interface on a superb screen.
Pure lines, extreme thinness (0.67''), 800g and a stunning black finish, the ARCHOS 9 PCtablet pushes the boundaries of elegance and simplicity on a Netbook, fulfilling the expectations of the most mobile users. It provides all the power and comfort needed for daily usage.
With this ultra-light and thin PCtablet, you can watch you videos (including Full HD format), browse the web, “video chat”, or write your mails or documents.." ~ARCHOS
With a 9 inch screen, and HD Video capability, this looks like not only a great solution for reading comics, but for videos as well. The downside is, well, it looks like the screen only works in Landscape (wide) mode, which means you might have to do some wrangling of your comic viewer to read pages in tall mode. (A quick test by me proves that CDisplay can do this very easily.)
Like I mentioned above, Achros are the first ones out the gate with a full sized Tablet device that should be perfect for reading comics on it.
The price is about $550, and the bulkiness is just a little bigger than what one might want in a tablet device. However, the Archos 9 comes loaded with Windows 7, so it's basically a full blown netbook, which makes it more robust than a simple proprietary tablet device. This could make its way into the Corporate world in a big way, which would drive the price down.
PLUG - This would make a great time to mention that Robot Comics has developed a Droid comic reader that can be used on the Achros 5 (their 5 inch Mobile Internet Device) as well as many of the new Android phones coming to the market right now.
These are far from the only tablet devices getting talked about on the internet but they are some of the most promising. (Actually, of late, there has been a new tablet device announced about once a week.) 2010 promises to be an interesting year for comics as these tablets make their way to the market place.
Have a great weekend!