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The Year of the Slate?

January 19, 2010

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.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2013 2:58 am

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this
    write-up plus the rest of the website is also very good.

  2. March 3, 2010 7:39 am

    I think you have written this post for the beginners who are unaware of slate as you have described slate very sophisticatedly. Also the language you have used is pretty much simple and easy to understand. But I would like to see some complex details of Slate in your upcoming posts.

  3. January 21, 2010 10:57 am

    For Christmas my son received a Nintendo DSi.
    Features include: touch screen, camera, internet browser.
    Some “Games” are leaning towards “apps”. Screen size is double that of iPhone. Capabilities appear to be somewhere in between a mobile data-enabled phone and a slate.
    Advertising images don’t show kids but teenagers and young adults!
    Convergence strikes again.

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