Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Behold (briefly) the toaster-refrigerator!

Back in April, Tim Cook described the laptop-tablet converged device as a bad idea. In his words, “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user.”

Yesterday, we saw caught a glimpse of the first of these converged devices. The tech press certainly loves the two Surface tablets that Microsoft unveiled yesterday. Scratch that. They loved the concept of Surface that Microsoft demo-ed. No one actually had more than a few minutes with the device and no one outside Microsoft has used their innovative keyboard with the tablet.

There is much to love about the concept of Surface, especially if you're a writer. Like most of the tech press.

We all love our iPads but it's not a great device if you have to do a lot of writing. Even with an attached keyboard, having to lift your hands off the keyboard to move the I-bar in a word processor is annoying, though perhaps good if you suffer from RSI. Hence we got comments like this one from Gizmodo:

At the Surface launch yesterday, the auditorium was packed with the tech press, and lots of MacBook Airs, but there was nary an iPad to be seen. And that's because you can't really type on an iPad. 

And The Verge:

There is a gray area that exists for me with the iPad. I love using it to read, to browse the web, to share content, to occasionally create content. But there is a moment when I have to put the iPad down and grab my laptop. I travel with both. I keep both nearby when I'm at home. And I think this is true for a lot of people (it's certainly true for a lot of people I know in the tech press). After Microsoft's announcement yesterday, I can actually envision a situation where I'm not traveling with two devices, or sitting on my couch with two devices, or running to grab my laptop from my office upstairs. The Surface makes sense, and it drives home Microsoft's previously vague intentions with Windows 8.
And Andy Ihnakto:

This reaction comes mostly from the fact that Microsoft seems to have built a tablet that works the way that I use my iPad. I most certainly do not use it as a content consumption device: I use it as an ultraportable PC. I walk around with a big external keyboard and I keep looking for apps that deliver the power of a desktop app. And I continue to be frustrated by my need to sometimes travel with a full-sized notebook as well as my iPad.
So there's no question the concept is enticing. As Andy says, "It looks amazing. If Apple made a device with these specs and features, I’d be vibrating with excitement."

But we don't know the price (beyond 'competitive'), we don't actually know the specs and we don't know how well it will actually perform. All design involves compromise. Apple believes that it doesn't make sense to combine a Macbook Air with an iPad, because there would be too many trade-offs. We'll have to wait and see if the Surface ends up a toaster-refrigerator, or if its actually closer to the camera-phone. But one thing we can say with certainty, now is much too early to say that the iPad and MacBook Air look obsolete.

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Lauren Hixson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lauren Hixson said...

With that in mind, then the appliance repair service people should start learning to create and repair hybrids of toasters and refrigerators then.

Lauren Hixon