Tablets in their current form have been around for a little over a year. It all started with the iPad. The iPad was the device we didn’t know we needed until we held it in our hands. There’s no denying that the iPad was a huge hit and has ushered in a new era for tablets.
I tried the iPad last year shortly after release, six months later I sold it. The platform just felt immature at the time, it was a giant iPod touch. Since then Apple has matured their platform (somewhat), Google officially stepped into the tablet arena along with RIM and HP. (I will not count Microsoft as being seriously in the tablet market until we see a tablet optimized OS from them.)
What has me concerned is usability, file management, content creation and manipulation. Currently tablets are mainly a consumption device. This is ok except for the fact that I already have a smartphone. Tablets need to be portable consumption and content creation/manipulation devices to stay viable.
There are many apps out there making strides at improving content creation and manipulation but it’s still far from where it needs to be. Part of the reason is file management. According to Apple we don’t need to worry about this but I think that’s a very narrow point of view. I want to easily transfer my files to my tablet. Whether it’s a wireless or wired transfer, I need files on my device to work with them. I may not need to the ability to manipulate the entire file system, but certainly my home directory.
Android actually does a good job in this area. I’m able to manage files easily transferring them over USB, WiFi, Bluetooth, and even through the cloud thanks to Dropbox and email. The sad truth, the Android UI isn’t as smooth as I’d like it to be. It’s a great tablet platform, but considering it’s newly out of the gate there is still a great deal of maturing that needs to take place(UI wise).
I’ve briefly used the Blackberry Playbook and haven’t even touched a TouchPad. I’m seriously impressed with what RIM has done. The only thing holding me back from a Playbook? I’m not a BB phone user and right now it’s needed to get the full experience out of the tablet. I’m all for tablet/smartphone integration. The only issue with this is that solid products need to be offered on both ends. RIM get the Bold 9900 Touch out on Verizon with LTE and you may win me over. Remember, I said MAY win me over. That whole BES crap and paying an extra $15 a month makes me hesitant.
The current ecosystem is looking good. There are 4 solid competitors and Microsoft will be making their presence known in time. This is great for the consumer because it will push innovation and help to rapidly mature the platform. The best advice I can give is this, invest in a tablet but don’t get in too deep. The only way this platform will continue to flourish is if companies believe they can make money. Truth be told, just because an iPad works for you today doesn’t mean that offering’s from RIM, HP, or Google won’t suit your needs better down the road. Don’t become a fanboy and learn to choose your device based on it’s merits and ability to meet your needs.