Give me a thin slate, a thin iPhone, a thin Kindle, a thin Lenovo Tablet, and I’ll be happy. To me, thinness–and it’s companion lightness–are features that can make a hohum product compelling.
Thinness doesn’t always work, but it pays off enough to be something that most PC, cellphone, and gadget designers seek. Now if too many sacrifices have to be made in terms of let’s say battery life or performance or heat control, then thinness isn’t going to give the benefits most people want, however, as Intel makes lower-power and cooler running processors and processors like the ARM CPUs grow in relative power and performance, the world of thinness is become more stylish and sought after.
I think back to the days of the NEC LitePad, which was 0.6″ thin. It was an excellent Tablet PC in large part because of how thin it was. It was a great companion PC that you could prop up next to a primary machine and use as a note taking device. You could also easily carry it around the house using Skype or pass it around a gathering of friends to show pictures on. The LitePad was just thin enough, just useful enough. The downside was that the battery didn’t last very long at an our or so. Oh, and the NEC Tablet was pricey.
However, now after a few intervening New Years celebrations we’re approaching another cusp where with Moorsetown from Intel we might be seeing a revitalization of thin, slate Tablets like the LitePad. Tablet progress being what it is it may take a year or so before we see such thin devices, but my prediction is we will see them.
Why do I make this prediction? One reason is we’re going to see more entrants into the thin device market. There’s the CrunchPad. There’s the Kindle. There’s the possible Apple Tablet-slash-large-iPod Touch. There’s even the iPod Touch itself as it gains new features. All of these devices are thin. All of them reasonably priced. All of them promoting the slate concept.
If these products continue to succeed as they have, we’re going to see a rejuvenated slate Tablet PC market. It’ll lag, but it will happen. Somebody is going to want to make the money that the market is open to. The key, again, will be thinness. Whoever makes the slate Tablet PCs will be sure to make them thin and light.