Friday, January 7th, 2011

CES: Shiny Things To Actually Want

Recently I was talking with Paul Graham, of genius startup incubator Y Combinator, for a story, and, while on a tangent, he made a case to the tablet-adverse folks like me. "The tablet, I believe now it's pretty safe to say, is the next model of computer," he said. "I think twenty years from now, kids will say, 'What's a computer?' And we'll say, 'Oh back before you used an iPad or an Android device for browsing the web, you had to use this thing with a keyboard and a big monitor.'" And I was like, really? (People like me, who use computers for text, find this idea slightly scary.) And he was like, yeah, dummy, basically: "It's still risky! But I'm pretty much ready to call it at this point." He also noted that, of startups he has seen, that "five years ago, everyone was starting a web startup. And now they're all—well, not all—they're starting things that build upon tablets." Believe it. So I've tried to pay particular attention to tablets during this CES. There's a ton of them! And I guess I'd better get used to loving them. Actually they're not so scary!

While we wait for the supposedly iterative iPad 2, there is, for instance, the BlackBerry Playbook. There are tons of tablets coming down the pike in various stripes—the Samsung Galaxy Tab (it should be a Mario Kart competitor with that name, maybe?), for instance—and none of them really feel dominant but what'll happen is that they'll all rise together. And you know what? Even the Apple fanboys like the Playbook, mostly.

And actually? I like its scale, compared to the iPad. What's also happening is we're getting everything in every size: the Samsung Infuse 4G phone is like… almost a tablet? Like a phone-sized tablet?

And the Motorola Xoom, even? Yeah, there's a ton! The HuffPo actually did something useful with a slideshow comparing 11 tablets at the show. Enjoy those pics, some of those you'll never see in the wild, because, what, gosh, hmm.

So in a sense, with all this wild market diversity, I think we can start to see how devices will be devices—phone-tablets, pad-phones, all kinds of things—particularly if we end up with bendable and transparent screens, yes please. And also? They're gonna be so cheap.

As far as everything else, what people love are the smart little things. Like Yorbuds, the world's ugliest and maybe-best in-ear headphones. And? I mean, why didn't this exist already: the iPad game joystick! That is a huge "duh." Possibly you could build it yourself for $3 at the hardware store? But who among us will! Frankly I would also enjoy snow goggles with an HD video camera, because, why not? Totally ludicrous, but rich people need hilarious things too.

Of course, the one thing that gets people of all stripes excited, for whatever reason, is a beautiful TV. People are predictable in this fashion! So it's not surprising to hear things like this:


Well? Yes. Sony can do that from time to time. I mean… yes.

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13 Comments / Post A Comment

jolie (#16)

So what's the solution to the tablet writing thing going to be? Because I have a tablet, and I appreciate it but cannot face doing any kind of writing on it at all, even, like, sending an email that's more than one line, which is limiting for someone like me who has IMPORTANT THINGS TO SAY WITH LETTERS DAMN IT. So?

Slava (#216)

A keyboard?!?!?

deepomega (#1,720)

My coworkers do not understand why I hate typing on a tablet touchscreen. I have tried to explain that you can't touch type but then they glaze over and pass out and I have to find the smelling salts/anti-tongue-swallowing spoon.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

The bluetooth keyboard for the iPad is a thing of wonder and beauty. It also answers the pesky question you are asking.

joeks (#5,805)

I hear a keyboard works for that sort of thing.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

I saw people using keyboards to type into their portable devices. Laptops they call them, I believe.

iantenna (#5,160)

i will say this about tablets: before seeing it on an ipad, twitter just seemed like a fucking mess to me. it is pretty amazing on the ipad. though, really, do i need/want more platforms to make previously unattractive time drains attractive to me?

JGP (#1,686)

I was thinking about what the world was like when I was a little kid, where records were for music and there were 3 networks and a couple independent TV stations that went off the air after Carson and they actually played the National Anthem to sign off for the night. And fancy cars had a tape deck but there was nothing digital in them. And stuff. And because I recently found out that I'm going to have a kid in 2011, I started thinking what tech would look like when he/she is my age, and it scared me.

Slava (#216)
JGP (#1,686)

Can't type…crying.

Can someone tell me what those Lady Gaga sunglass things are supposed to be? Does it take a picture and instantly show it to people who are walking by? Is it supposed to be a prop in a homemade Neuromancer fanfic?

I think it's so, if you see a meat outfit you fancy, you don't have to pull out your camera, you can just, I don't know, surreptitiously touch your glasses or something.

Trilby (#3,897)

Love the French kids bewildered by our antiques. Thanks for that link.

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