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Tablet Computer Renaissance

Beat Up MartinIn 2003 I bought a Compaq TC1000, one of the first slate style tablet computers. At the time Microsoft was pushing a version of Windows XP that featured an onscreen keyboard. The primary input method of these early tablet computers was a stylus which was fantastic for software like Autodesk Sketchbook; a stylus is not ideal for text input so Microsoft bundled hand writing recognition with its virtual keyboard. Unfortunately handwriting recognition is notoriously unreliable and I didn’t find it particularly useful.

Apple launched the iPhone a short while after I started at iSTORM. I was quite skeptical at the time, having never been an Apple or iPod fan. When the first apps for jailbroken phones came out my interest was piqued. Despite my misgivings Apple created an excellent touch screen interface that capitalized on the strengths of the device. I eventually bought a second hand iPod touch from a friend and, though had a lot of fun with it, it added to what I was carrying with me on a given day.

In August 2010 I decided that I was carrying too much and that it was time to upgrade my phone. I settled on an Android phone, the HTC Desire, because it didn’t require me to use iTunes and had many similarities to the iPhone. After a few months of use my interest in slate style computing was renewed; I had taken to reading comic books and the web primarily on my phone, with its relatively tiny screen. Specifically I would be on the couch and have a need for information, but want access to it faster than my laptop could provide.

I ordered a Nook Color several weeks ago and it recently arrived at the office. So far I’m very pleased with my purchase; the screen is vibrant and clear and it’s very responsive. I rooted the device within 30 minutes of opening the box and installed a few applications, they all run quite nicely. The webkit based browser renders pages perfectly, though I am impatiently waiting for flash to become available.

With the iPhone, and subsequently the iPad, Apple revitalized the tablet computer market. CES 2011 showed that every computer hardware manufacturer is ready to re-enter the market with ARM powered, Android driven tablets. A tablet renaissance has begun and consumers showing a strong interest this time around.

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