Apple to release Etch-a-Sketch of the future?

For years now, we’ve only been able to enjoy the benefits of the government’s top secret, Timecop-like program of space-time continuum manipulation in a single form—Dippin’ Dots. Soon, however, Jean-Claude will bring back a device from late 2010 to wreck some righteous Van Dammage on early 2010.

The iPad is finally, probably coming.

That’s right. The much-ballyhooed, over-hyped, long-awaited, inappropriately lusted-after, giant iPod Touch is finally, finally, finally close to fruition. Assuming you believe all the rumors. The current grist from the mill comes courtesy of AppleInsider, which reports that the Steve Jobs has blessed the device with a sprinkling of freshly secreted bile. The device will theoretically sport a 10-inch touch screen and a chip from P.A. Semi. My own sources tell me that the iTab will run a new version of OS X called "Liger" that will be flippin’ sweet.

One interesting bit of speculation floating around is that the iFrisbee will be sold through, and subsidized by, Verizon. This subsidy will allow the device to live somewhere between the prices of a 32GB iPhone 3GS and Apple’s now single MacBook offering. Which sounds pretty dumb to me. Not that I want a higher-priced device, of course, but why would I want to tether myself to another contract for a device that isn’t even a phone? If the iPod touch doesn’t need a wireless carrier, why should the iSpatula? It makes sense, somewhat, to have one’s iPhone tied to a cellular network. After all, you usually keep your phone on you as you wander hither and yon in search of doubloons. And while X might mark the spot, it doesn’t necessarily come with a Wi-Fi signal.

But are you really going to lug your iMaxi around to places you wouldn’t take your laptop? Or are you more likely to use it on the couch, at Denny’s (free WiFi with your Moons Over My Hammy®) or at the office? And even if you would like to use it in non-Wi-Fi setting, will you be willing to pony up a monthly fee to do so? Not I.

Pricing issues aside, I’m hard pressed to get excited about the iSlab. Sure, it sounds cool as all get out, but what am I supposed to do with the thing? Rather, what I am supposed to do with it that I couldn’t do with either my iPhone or MacBook Pro? It’s not as if this one device will supplant the two. I can see its application in commercial settings. I’m already picturing Apple Store employees using the iSteno to jot down orders, note technical issues and draw Hitler mustaches on the hobbit at the Genius Bar who keeps swiping the Jolt from the employee fridge.

I can even see mounting one in the kitchen so my beloved wife can peruse the intertubes whilst dodging pea bombs from the kiddos. But as much as I love the supremely bourgeois over-techification of life in general, I’d have a hard time shelling out a few hundred bones for that convenience. Subsidy or no. Actually, definitely no if that subsidy comes with a contract.

So I’m left to ponder: what’s the point? Will the iPuck be Apple’s next Cube? The company can’t keep popping off home run after home run forever. And once the people who buy new gear for the sake of having new gear (a group to which I’ve never belonged, mainly for financial reasons), who’s going to keep the iMat a profitable model? There’s a reason you don’t see a lot of tablets out in the wild, and I suspect it has nothing to do with the fact that Apple hasn’t yet made one.

Still, I’m making an effort to be a more positive person. So to the end I’ve come up with a few viable, if unsanctioned, uses for the forthcoming iMnotanetbook:

1.

Shoot. Can’t think of any. My snark chip must be on the fritz.

Personally, I’d like to see a tablet/laptop hybrid. Basically, a MacBook Pro with a touch screen that I can swivel and fold down over the keyboard. I swear I’ve seen such things in the PC world, but there’s a good chance I was just watching Freejack. That Emilio Estevez—what a card. Anyway, such a machine would give me all the functionality of a laptop—you know, a keyboard, optical drive and stuff—with the ability to go all multi-gesture Minority Report when the urge strikes. Which, as you’ve probably figured out from the rest of this post, wouldn’t be often.

Really, it comes down to this: I have a hard enough time getting the air bubbles out from under my screen protector on my iPhone. How many weeks would it take to do that on a 10-inch screen?

I know a lot of folks are geeked out on the idea of the iToast. If you’re one of them, tell me and the rest of the TR army why.

Later,

Fox

Comments closed
    • jackaroon
    • 10 years ago

    That bile remark was especially weird, considering the recent liver transplant.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 10 years ago

    I for one think that a large handheld device that is 100% touchscreen (like a giant iphone) is ideal and certainly worth the wait. It is the ulimate netbook interface.

    My only problem is that Apple is making it… which means overpriced, crappy OS, and limitations everywhere.

    Main concerns —

    screen protection. My idea for a device like this is a hard plastic/metal sheet that slides over the screen when you aren’t using it. Thats the only way to make this thing vaguely impact resistant.

    weight/battery. A huge screen means less battery life… lots of battery means heavy weight. This thing is gonna weigh 5 pounds. Or it will get very bad (less than 3 hrs?) battery life. Especially if they hook this thing up to verizons network.

    multi-touch. I would expect to be able to use this as a keyboard (even a usb keyboard replacement for my desktop). If the multi-touch doesn’t work like a flat keyboard… definetly not worth the cost.

    • Anomymous Gerbil
    • 10 years ago

    You do try pretty hard to appear witty etc, but just to let you know that it’s grist *to* or *for* the mill, not *from* the mill.

    §[< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grist<]§

    • lamparalaptopiaguita
    • 10 years ago

    haha another yearning, disturbing, yet perversely amusing long rant of a lifeless apple fan who yearns for Jobs’s divine attention

    pathetic.

    • ryko
    • 10 years ago

    your constant use of new names for the soon to be released device is annoying…

    that said i agree mostly with you on the price thing. i don’t want a contract and i will not pay $800 for it.

    but i have always wondered why things like the star trek tablets or pads have never taken off….this looks like the first serious attempt and i welcome that. what will really be interesting is what competitors will come up for a reasonable price. like an asus eee tablet for $400 sounds much better.

      • dpaus
      • 10 years ago

      I guess you never saw the Apple Newton?

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    dont worry, they will sell 10000000. people will buy whatever is shiny and has the logo. they will buy it, and say it has changed their lives, despite the fact that there are better cheaper alternatives out there, and have been for years. yes multitouch is nice. yes good battery life is nice. but we can do that with out some retarded keyboardless POS. my brother is a big mac lover (irritating i know), and has been talking about this thing for a while now. about how he can use it for art, and surfing and other stupid crap. despite the fact that a 10″ keyboard is a pain in the ass nm if you have no physical response. that would be retarded to type on. Art? the hardware will be too slow to allow much more than just ms paint (but man that is a good piece of software, i remember the first set of stickmen i ever made!). cs4? HA! well im sure that they will find the customers they need. if they cant, they will just breed them. i know many retards with money, im sure you do too…

    • sacremon
    • 10 years ago

    Um….. give webcomic artists the option of that ‘done in fingerpaints’ look?

    • TheShadowself
    • 10 years ago

    The MAIN use of a tablet that would be very light and very fast would be in the medical world. Instead of carrying around chart after chart after chart in the hospital, a doctor/nurse/pa/etc. could carry around a tablet that would, when docked at the nurse’s station, sync with the hospital’s servers about every patient of interest on that floor in that wing — or for a doctor it could sync with all his/her patients. And with an updated version of inkwell (Apple has had over 16 years to perfect it — the Newton shipped in August 1993 after all) and a fast processor by the P.A. Semi guys it might be able to do decent handwriting recognition.

    Makes the transition from paper record keeping to electronic record keeping relatively straightforward.

    BUT…
    Guess what?
    Virtually all wireless devices are forbidden in most medical environments.

    I cannot for the life of me think of a single, REAL market for an Apple tablet device. While it is possible that Apple will prove me wrong, I seriously doubt it.

    • Hattig
    • 10 years ago

    Is this going to be another device that SJ will say is a hobby when it doesn’t take off as well as he hoped, like the Apple TV?

    iChangedTheRules

      • adisor19
      • 10 years ago

      Seriously, the Apple TV needs a HUGE hardware update to be considered viable this day. It was a stupid stupid decision to launch it with 720p capability only.

      Adi

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      The AppleTV was called a hobby before it ever launched. That said, they probably knew it wouldn’t sell in big numbers.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 10 years ago

    I currently use a Latitude XT tablet for work and I very, very rarely use the touch screen. Hopefully that will change with W7.

    I just don’t see this selling. Also having yet another device with a contract or a subscription based service is a huge turn off for me.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    WHAT IS THAT I DONT EVEN

    • Tarx
    • 10 years ago

    With pricing it down to $600, I think Apple’s margins would be too low unless they moved away from having this as an OSX iMac tablet and more as a souped up iPod Touch.

    At $800, I don’t think a tablet (without a keyboard) would be a good seller unless Apple can somehow change consumer perception (hey, they’ve done that a few times already). With a keyboard maybe, but then that will interfere with the design. One way around that is if it is sold with a keyboard, but has the extra cool feature (Apple talk) where you can take the keyboard off and just go with just the screen. That, with the better CPU/GPU than regular netbooks plus the larger screen and the Apple brand/tax, could perhaps be enticing enough at the $799 price point for enough buyers.

    • drcrabbysaurus
    • 10 years ago

    If this had a multitouch color e-ink screen with 4 days of battery life it would make for an awesome comic book reader/kindle killer.

    Unfortunately I don’t see that happening for a few years.

      • Tarx
      • 10 years ago

      I agree that it is going to be tough to get even a full day use (heck, even 6 hours under moderate load) with this without a big/heavy 9-cell battery, especially if they want to have reasonable performance. But it has to do that as plugging this is while using it isn’t reasonable (unlike, to some extent, netbooks).

    • Richie_G
    • 10 years ago

    It’s an iWantone which can be used for iDunno. Ok that was crap.

    • HammerSandwich
    • 10 years ago

    You left out iPlank.

    It would make an outstanding remote for the expensive stereo/HT market. Sure, the Sonos remote app, e.g., is great, but the small screen sacrifices too much. A 10″ screen would make browsing playlists & viewing cover art enjoyable. But at $500+, you’re talking a tiny market for this use.

    OTOH, if they refresh the AppleTV & bundle this for $800…

    • prb123
    • 10 years ago

    Was Alcohol a factor in the creation of this masterpiece?

      • dustyjamessutton
      • 10 years ago

      Everything apple makes involves use of some sort of mind-altering drug, whether it be alcohol, marijuana, or ritalin. I have to favor ritalin, because I was on that for many years, thank goodness I outgrew the need for any medicine whatsoever. Anyway, as spongebob appeals to pot-smokers, Apple products appeal to hippies, vegetarians, and art-lovers, hence the involvement of drugs in both the development of apple products, and the use of them.

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        I love art, I don’t eat meat, but Apple’s products still don’t appeal to me.

        • A_Pickle
        • 10 years ago

        I love art, meat, and mind-altering experiences… but I don’t use a Mac. :/

      • d0g_p00p
      • 10 years ago

      You seem to be forgetting that Apple *hates* buttons.

    • _Sigma
    • 10 years ago

    I’m in awe of how many i* jokes you managed to fit into that post.

    • tfp
    • 10 years ago

    Wow a tablet? That’s a new idea…

    • Fighterpilot
    • 10 years ago

    Most of the convenience stores here in Japan use tablet type devices for stocktaking…perhaps thats one of the usage scenarios they have in mind.
    At least till NEC make one and they all buy that instead.

    • Tarx
    • 10 years ago

    Where would this go?
    iMac line?
    iPod line?
    iPhone line?

    It seems too big to go into either the iPod or iPhone line, so it would be an iMac Pad or something.

    It would offer an alternative to netbook users plus also attract customers with other Apple products without significantly eating into higher end items (e.g. 13″ Macbook pro) . I doubt Apple cares much if it eats into the iPod Touch sales.

    It would offer 720p video capability and screen (1280×720 or a bit higher). The screen has already been noted to be just under 10″.

    The device would have to be sleek, light, cool with good battery life and good video handling without getting too sluggish.

    What Apple would want both the CPU and the GPU to be faster than those with the standard netbook. And would want the battery life to be at least 5 hours long.

    The Core 2 Solo SU3500 (1.4GHz, 5.5watts) is probably the best fit for low voltage performance. But it is fairly expensive and quite a bit warmer / power hungry than even the fastest (non-dual) Atom (e.g. Atom Z550 2GHz 2.4watts). But probably wanted if it runs OSX (a variation for tablet) to keep the device running fluidly.
    The chipset is a problem. The current netbook chipset (945 based) just isn’t good enough. The newer one (the GN40) is only a bit faster but it does handle 720p videos – however it is quite a bit more power hungry. The Ion would be great, but it is too power hungry – however maybe Nvidia can come out with a special cut-down (e.g. 1/2 the shaders) version that is underclocked/volted.
    Pineview (Q1 2010) is listed to be a next year product and not much improved in performance from a regular Atom/GN40, but requires less system space and has lower power consumption. But will be out too late.

    All this extra power use means either more battery or shorter battery life. And possibly a device that is too warm. In a year from now, with the 32nm shrink, Intel could have some more compelling options.

    Now this iMac Tablet (doubt it will be called that as Tablet isn’t a nice sounding word for an Apple product).
    1) This isn’t pocket size. Although it overlaps the the iPhone in capabilities, the higher resolution, larger screen makes it desirable for (Apple to fill in)…
    2) No keyboard. Sleek style, low weight precludes that.
    3) Runs OSX tablet version (with all the important IO controls from the IPod Touch).
    4) Good touchscreen keyboard, with very good freestyle note taking capability.
    5) digital books, etc.
    6) smooth, LED, anti-glare touch surface that goes almost edge to edge of the device. Auto brightness control would be nice.
    7) minimal IO slots – maybe 1 SD, 1 USB, mic, headset
    8) optional dock/charger station so it is vertical and fully viewable. With that and a bluetooth keyboard/mouse, it can then be used like a regular computer. Everything small enough to be easily transportable.
    9) Skype capability (built in mic, speaker, web cam)
    10) Remote capability (e.g. control Apple TV, TV set, etc.)
    etc.

    • Thresher
    • 10 years ago

    Tieing this sort of thing to a cellular carrier would kill it in its crib.

    What has been described is not a cell phone. It’s not a full fledged computer. It’s not even as useful for basic tasks as a netbook. So why would tieing it to a cellular carrier make sense?

    It only makes sense as a sort of large format iPod Touch. Giving it WWAN access would be overkill and I don’t think it would be a very pleasant experience. People would expect more from the thing than it could really deliver if it’s on a cellular network.

      • Thresher
      • 10 years ago

      What’s wrong with being enthusiastic for a product? Have you ever stood in line for a movie? Or how about a ride at an amusement park? Camped out for football tickets?

      People’s tastes are different. Just because you don’t happen to share their enthusiasm doesn’t mean their wrong. It just means you are intolerant of people who don’t have the same snobbish tastes as you do (and yes, Windows and Linux users can be every bit as snobbish as Mac users).

      • deathBOB
      • 10 years ago

      I like how relevant your post is.

      It seems like it would make a good portable media reader a la the Kindle. You probably don’t want to read a novel on it but you could read the news and watch some video. I’m not sure if there is demand for this kind of device.

      • adisor19
      • 10 years ago

      Guess your space ship didn’t come to get you yet 🙂

      Adi

      • snakeoil
      • 10 years ago

      cough, cough

    • Lianna
    • 10 years ago

    I’m not really into Mac things (even though I use one in one of my jobs), but probably only Apple is able to mix ingredients right to create popular tablet. It should be light, maybe lighter than most netbooks (because sometimes you have to keep it in one hand while writing/drawing with the other), while having laptop convertible design (for obvious productivity reasons); it needs good battery life – like best netbooks out there, matte screen (sunlight-viewable/-drawable) with good resolution (for productivity apps and photo manipulation, but it is for drawing precision, too), have good response and allow variable pressure, and yes, the screen protector would have to be made in the future, current ones are a joke. AND the CPU would have to be quite faster than Atom, for obvious image manipulation reasons, and still x86.

    One thing iPad would surely miss would be its price. And probably expandability (number of ports and the like).

    Convertible laptop/tablet could be avoided if there was on-screen keyboard with proper haptic response… and it still sounds like Apple is the only manufacturer to try one. This one would solve some of weight, thickness and bulkiness problems of, e.g., Gigabyte’s convertible tablets.

      • thecoldanddarkone
      • 10 years ago

      Tablets only need to be so thin, it’s not like a laptop that sits on the ground. I’ve used tablets enough to know, that I don’t want my tablet much/maybe any thinner than one inch as that fits my hand perfectly. As for the on screen with haptic response being reasonable to use, I’ll disgree with that, if it was 10 inches it would become work to use it even editing a word document.

    • Dposcorp
    • 10 years ago

    You are a witty and talented iColumnist, my friend. Well done.

    • KamikaseRider
    • 10 years ago

    Very well writen.

    I’m very enthusiastic about new products so in the beginning I was like: Uh..this is gonna be very nice. I want one.

    But then I started thinking exactly like you said. I mean, it’s not a phone it’s not a notebook, what the hell am I gonna do with this thing??

      • Tamale
      • 10 years ago

      Agreed. Anything bigger than a phone isn’t going to go with you everywhere, and anything smaller than a netbook is smaller than it needs to be.

    • Richie_G
    • 10 years ago

    I’m stumped.

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