Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Casual Vacancy of the Tablet

I'm wondering what my fellow typewriter enthusiasts think about tablets.

I am tempted by the latest round of offerings from Barnes and Noble and Amazon. A 9" screen with just as many pixels as an HDTV--that's really remarkable, and it's just another example of how the world is realizing the Science Fictional dreams of my youth.

I could use the tablet to...

Read the news in bed, without going outside to pick up the newspaper. (Except that I can do that already with my laptop, and I don't even get the paper.)

Watch movies, alone, from anywhere. (Except that I find it hard to watch whole movies, and when I do watch them, I want to be with other people.)

Purchase and browse magazines without a stack of clutter building up in my house. This one is pretty damn tempting, and the scrap-booking feature of the new Nook almost has me sold.

But I just can't cozy to the idea of investing in a device with no keyboard. For me, the tablet says, "Consume, don't contribute." That pop-up on screen keyboard is just convenient enough for putting in your credit card number, and then it disappears again.

Is it just me, or does the idea of losing a keyboard feel a bit like, well...

castration?

13 comments:

  1. exactly my feelings, so I bought a Dell inspiron duo. I'd already been running kindle and nook for pc anyway. The benefits of the duo over the acer netbook it replaced are the flip touch screen and that it's easier to read in sunlight. It's not a true tablet though so it's not a direct comparison. ask me more if you want.

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    1. Enjoy the new computer! I think I might get * something * in the after Christmas sales ... or maybe I'll just keep skimming Craigslist for something a little less old than the zombie machine I'm using now.

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  2. I keep on running into a mental brick wall whenever I contemplate getting an iPad -- I, too, consider a keyboard to be a major focus. Yeah, I know I could get an auxiliary keyboard for that device, but somehow it defeats the purpose.

    As for book devices, I'm still a Luddite and prefer real books.

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    1. The keyboard/stand for the iPad seems pretty snappy, actually. I like that it aligns the tablet into a "portrait" (ie, "piece of paper") mode. I think if the nook could provide a similar accessory I might be ready to buy.

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  3. Personally, I won't consider a tablet until they have a proven model out that can take a USB keyboard and has true stylus support. Also, it must run Linux.

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    1. Pleased to meet you, fellow Linux fan!

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  4. As I often tell people in our library, a hardcopy of "War and Peace" weighs a lot more than an reader/tablet with the e-book loaded on it... along with a ton (literally) of other books. That being said, I'm with Cameron; my B&N nook stays on the shelf while my "real" books get used.

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    1. I've loaded up my first generation nook with hundreds of books, and yet browsing them always seems unsatisfying. At least it's a way of satisfying my "acquisition addiction" without taking up any space. (I swear it got a little heavier when I added "Moby Dick" to it, though.) Also, knowing I can never run out of stuff to read (barring the discovery of life extension technology) is satisfying. And a little creepy.

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  5. I guess I've gotten used to the iPad2, but for me it's the ideal media-consumption device, plus it does a fairly good job of editing JPEG images and videos, and the writing app I use (iAWriter) is great, the virtual keyboard for this app is much better than the default iPad keyboard. My main use for my desktop PC is for harddrive storage for my files, and running my flatbed scanner.

    The Wife has a Kindle, loves it for books, but I still like reading paper.

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    1. My fear is a tablet would give me one more reason not to get out of bed in the morning. I can easily spend a good chunk of the day reading blogs on my laptop on a Saturday, particularly if The Wife spoils me with coffee in bed. Give me a tablet and I might never make it to the typing table at all.

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  6. My iPad has become an integral part of my daily life. I use it in the morning. I carry hundreds of work materials on it that I can reference at work. The diary and contact functions make it invaluable. I read books on it when I get home, and I jot down ideas in a couple of specific apps.

    I even check out the typosphere frequently on it. And I'm not the only one, as 12% of the people that access my blog do so from the comfort of their iPad.

    Do I read real books? Sure do. But my iPad (and to a lesser extent my iPhone) has become a major part of my workflow. It doesn't make me happier, it just helps me deal with complicated workflows.

    And I don't miss the keyboard much. The onscreen keyboard is alright for a little work, but certainly no Bijou to write on. I have a bluetooth keyboard for serious keyboarding moments.

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  7. DONT GET IT !!! It's a man eater.

    I bet you're thinking nice Hall and Oates reference.

    Stay classy,
    Will

    ccrtypewriter.blogspot.com

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  8. I have an iPad that I've enjoyed particularly for games (Angry Birds, TIny Wings, Scrabble), a little web browsing, and taking lo-res video which can easily be uploaded to YouTube. It is a novelty and a neat gadget, but hardly a necessity.

    I agree that the lack of a real keyboard is a major factor. There is no way I can type effectively on a 3-row touchscreen keyboard. Also, simple tasks such as going back into the middle of a sentence you typed to change something require tedious touch techniques. It's a very cumbersome, retrograde interface -- clever and elegant in its way but not efficient, and impossible for fine work like image or video editing.

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