Do you have to choose between screens?

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 10:46 PM | comments: 0

Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 3 today, which is essentially a laptop squeezed into a 12" tablet. Without having seen one in real life yet, it's interesting from the standpoint that it doesn't really have any serious compromise as a tablet (unless it turns out to be hard to hold at that size, but it's awfully light and thin). If it's comfortable to use on your lap, which is what they're trying to prove, it might not even have significant compromises as a laptop.

I was always the skeptic around tablets early on because I just didn't see the need for a consumption device. I changed my mind finally when the screens started having higher resolution (the retina iPad and Surface 2). I enjoyed using them on the couch, at lunch and anywhere I just wanted to read and view pictures of cats.

But there always comes a time where I need to put the thing down and get the laptop for "real" work, even if it's just writing. My Surface 2 can do some of that work with the keyboard cover, but not being a "real" computer I can't run Visual Studio on it.

You can see what Microsoft is after here... they don't want you to have to choose. Mind you, that thing isn't a "tablet killer," because it's priced like a laptop, not a tablet. But it still asks, do you really have to choose? The various Windows based laptops are pretty solid these days, but I like the idea of being able to draw on the screen. And of course, Apple is too stubborn to do touch on the MacBooks, which frustrates me to no end given how great those laptops are otherwise.

And then there's that weird in between use case. I got one of those 8" Dell tablets for super cheap, and it's a fantastic and inexpensive little time waster. I tend to use it for music on headphones, Facebook and news reading. It's easy to toss in a bag or a glove box.

But there are too many screens. Add the phone to the mix. I honestly don't use it much beyond quick email, text messaging and updating Facebook with a status or photo. I just have to wonder if this new genre bending device could consolidate a few use cases. (I realize how absurd that is among people who have none of them, but keep in mind that this is what I do for a living... it's my job to understand this stuff.)

I like the idea of this new laplet/tabtop thing for the pen input, actually. I always have a couple of legal pads around for sketching out user interfaces and application architecture. It's much easier to bang something out and not get too attached to it.

These are good problems to have, I suppose. Computers went a good 15 years with the only significant change being that we didn't need a big box under the desk, we could have something on our lap. The changes in the last four years have been radical and fast. We live in the future!


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