All of them.
Wired claims 2010 is the year of the tablet. Let’s face it, however much they sound dreamy (even I’ve speculated on wanting one in the past), in practical reality tablets generally suck. They are both a worse laptop than a laptop, and a worse touch-input device than a piece of paper I can scan with my cheapo HP all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/sock darner combo device. So this is my “I don’t care what they say in the focus group, nobody’s buying your crappy tablet” intervention blog post.
Tablets suck at handwriting recognition. The dream of a touch-screen is you can easily edit/mark up your documents, and, as if by magic, the edits transform into your Word doc in a useful manner. Instead you get edts tht looh lik ths, intermixed with the occasional number and odd symbol.
Tablets suck to carry around. It’s too big for your pocket, and probably too big for your murse. Which means you need a laptop bag. Which means you might as well carry a… laptop.
Tablets make you tired. The ergonomic problems with a laptop are bad enough. Where am I going to carry the tablet such that constant use doesn’t get exhausting? The only worse user interface is the full hand motion system from Minority Report. Seriously, have you seen Tom Cruise’s biceps? they got huge after *that* movie!
Tablets can’t share nicely with others. So let’s pretend your tablet comes with some fancy new visual editing tool. Well, how do you get that useful data back to the other 99.9% of people you have to interact with? PDF? I don’t think so. Although I do assume that Apple would make some proprietary app that *would* work well, but that’s not the point.
Tablets suck at hiding smudges. The spittle residue on my MacBook screen is fairly intense. I can’t imagine how my greasy french-fry-eating fingers are going to make any tablet look. And yes, I’ve seen your iPhone, and I carry wipes around just so I don’t have to put it next to my head. Gross.
Tablets are bad Web browsers. I still applaud the CrunchPad team for their hard work, but I have no idea why anyone thinks surfing a Web page on a tablet with fingers is better, easier, or faster than doing the same with my laptop. Ditto for anyone else’s tablet. Plus, when I have to input anything, which is always, I don’t really want a virtual keyboard that will, by definition, work worse than the one on my laptop.
Tablets are priced poorly. What’s the “magic” price point for this thing? $200? No way it’ll be any good. $800? Buy a MacBook. $500? Buy a 3G NetBook. There is no price point that makes sense, other than as a gimmicky product for those with too much money lying around. Who will, for the record, all purchase one as soon as they come out.
Tablets suck at everything else. IM? Won’t work well. Video chat? Won’t work well. Spreadsheets? Nope. About the only other thing a tablet will be good at is a finger painting application, which my 2-year-old would love. For about 5 minutes until his short attention span moves onto the cardboard box he was playing with yesterday. Oh, and FreeCell – a tablet would be a killer FreeCell device. Awesome.
So there you have it. Sorry teams Apple TouchBook, CrunchPad, Windows Tablet Home Premium Ultimate 7 Edition (service pack 8), I know there is crazy hard work and tremendous effort going on in the labs. But I think until literally all of the above problems are solved, this is a non-category.
But if you do figure it out, I’m buying!