To have and to hold
The tablet market is about to see new entrants sporting Windows 8. Not all of them are following a tried and trusted form
Blogs | 07 Sep 2012 :
At an IDC event yesterday on consumerisation in IT, I got to play briefly with the new Windows 8 tablets from Acer, the W510 and the W700.
The 510 is as you'd expect for a 10" (254mm) tablet, being relatively light, easy to hold and easily manipulated. However, the W700 is an entirely different animal.
Thick, heavy and sturdy enough to fend off attackers, it is described as a "laptop replacement tablet".
Now, just let that statement sink in for a few moments-a laptop replacement tablet.
The W700 certainly has the spec to be a laptop competitor, boasting as it does an Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor and an 11.6" (295mm), 1920 x 1080 screen. However, it is probably 10mm or more thick and weighs in at the best part of a kilo, if not slightly more. These are educated guesses, as full specs on the devices have not been released, or at least were not easily found at time of writing.
The W700 comes with an equally sturdy dock that allows it to be angled in various positions to provide different interactions, say for viewing at 70 degrees to horizontal or at 20 degrees for easy touch use.
Now by way of comparison, the new iPad is 9.4mm thick and weighs 662g, whereas the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is 9.7mm thick and weighs 583g. Now, I found that after a few minutes, fatigue would set in holding either of these devices with one hand while manipulating the screen with the other. Add a couple of hundred grams to that and the fatigue prospect increases significantly.
One can see what Acer is aiming for though, as the ranks of truly mobile workers, and particularly the on-the-go type, want ever more powerful machines that are more than just companion devices. As many companies have found, few can compete directly with the iPad on specs and performance alone, as no other company in the space currently has the brand cache that Apple enjoys. Hence, to hope to take a slice of the lucrative tablet market, a manufacturer must plough its own furrow, as it were, by carving a niche for itself. Android tablets have been particularly successful in the low end of the market, so it makes sense for Windows 8, a fully touch enabled operating system, to look at the high end, in terms of performance at least, to establish itself.
It is a bold gamble, but one that seems perhaps a little safer than outright competition with the iPad. Offering alternatives to the iPad is certainly valid, but taking on the might of Apple for hearts and minds has failed spectacularly in the past and looks set to continue to do in the near future. No matter,
I like the idea of having a laptop, effectively, on my desk with full connectivity and storage options that I can then de-dock and take with me for use as a tablet for on-the-go consumption and access to my full corporate desktop. However, for the sake of strained wrists everywhere, I would entreat that manufacturers find some way of making them a bit lighter!