Kevin Cheng  

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27th, 2003 by Kevin Cheng :: see related comic

I’m living in the UK, but thegoodtomchi is in the states and well, I did for a time so even though I’m Canadian, I’ll wish you all a happy turkey day. Any excuse to have good food is a good excuse.

Now, in the last thread, we got some discussion going about a potential Mac Tablet and Chris mentioned that Steve Jobs doesn’t like the tablet form factor. He claims is (to paraphrase):

“It turns out people want keyboards. When Apple first started out, ‘People couldn’t type’. We look at the tablet and we think it’s going to fail. Tablets appeal to rich guys with plenty of other PCs and devices already … And people accuse us of niche markets.”

Uh. Ok. His niche market is (or at least was) graphic designers, a number of whom own tablets. So what makes him think those people don’t want pen input laptops? The fact is, I agree, I want a keyboard to type my blog entries etc, but as all the new generation tablets have demonstrated, there is such a thing as having your cake and eating it, too.

For the moment, I’m leaning heavily towards buying a tablet so I don’t have to lug both a powerbook and a wacom when I travel. Sorry, Steve.

Looking from a human factors standpoint, what do people think of the tablet’s form factor? I think there are some subtleties to be worked out still. Toshiba’s Portege M200 fixes some of the problems from the Portege 3500 in terms of issues like their rotation button and a really slick “backup stylus” hidden by the battery. I think that’s just the beginning. It seems like the designs are still lacking in imagination.

How about more affordance for holding it in a clipboard manner? Rubber grips much like some of the higher end cameras would be useful. Surprisingly, something akin to the Sony Clie’s thumbdial doesn’t seem to be in use in any tablet designs. Perhaps there are patent issues. Many manufacturers are also still dealing with issues related to glare and reflection, given the varied environments they expect users to use the tablets.

Yes, there are definitely some problems to be examined with tablets but I think Jobs is dead wrong on his prediction.


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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?