The Year of the Slate?
2010 is shaping up to be the year that “slate computing” makes it big. A slate looks like a giant smartphone, but it’s a computer. There’s no keyboard — you let your fingers point, click and type. This year’s slates are the latest iteration of the Tablet PC – remember them? Notre Dame conducted an exploration into tablets seven years ago. I guess we jumped the gun.
Up until now, Motion Computing has been the king of slates, but a couple weeks ago Microsoft showed off some upcoming slates at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. Slates were one of the big trends at CES — even Lenovo is getting into the game with the IdeaPad U1. But the big dog is likely to be Apple’s long-rumored iSlate, which tech wonks assure us will be revealed on January 27.
The consensus is that the typical new generation slate will be thin and lightweight, with a 9-10″ color multitouch screen. It won’t have a built-in keyboard, but will have a mic, speakers, and a decent webcam. Personally, I hope it also features a GPS unit. The slate will have neither hard drive nor optical drive. Instead, data will be stored in something like an internal USB flash drive. Don’t worry; you’ll be able to plug in a DVD or CD drive.
I believe some manufacturers will offer a low cost data plan, provided by a phone company. That will make the slate much more mobile than a device that requires a WiFi connection.
What are we supposed to do with these slates? What will make them so wonderful? Here are a few possible answers:
- Read a book or magazine (in color)
- View a video
- Surf the web
- Play a game
- Get travel or entertainment info
- Find out what’s near us (with GPS)
- Conduct a mobile videoconference
- Use almost any program that your laptop can run
- Use almost any smartphone app
What will be the impact of these devices on higher education? Will students use them for note-taking? Will researchers carry them into the field? Will they take the place of video cameras? What do you think?
Update: see this article in the Chronicle’s Wired Campus blog.