About a decade ago Mike Andrawes and I kept hoping someone would come out with a device that would make surfing the web on the couch easier than it was. Mike took the notebook route. He kept buying (or stealing from me) notebooks that were cooler, thinner and lighter while still being a notebook, for the purpose of browsing the web.

I took a more extreme route. I tried ultraportables. I bought a Sony PictureBook. It had a Transmeta Crusoe processor in it, which was horribly slow but gave me the form factor and battery life I craved. I put up with a ridiculously impractical screen just to get something small to browse the web and do work on.

Matthew Witheiler, another AnandTech veteran took a different path. He embraced the tablet PC. Matt became our Tablet PC reviewer on AnandTech as he searched for the perfect device. Unfortunately, he never found it.

None of us did. Today we all went back to the tried and true device: the notebook. The iPhone came along and gave us a revolution in the smartphone space. Ultimately it and the devices that followed just complemented our notebooks - sometimes with a new level of frustration as we were now at the mercy of wireless carriers and ridiculously slow SoCs.


The smartphone revolution gave us some great devices

History likes to repeat itself, and that’s what we’ve seen happen over the past two years. The introduction of the netbook brought the journey full circle. People wanted a cheap, light, portable web surfing and light work device - the netbook did just that.

The keyboard and screen issues have been mostly solved. Performance still sucks and part of that is due to the fact that there are no good netbook OSes that are optimized for the level of performance a 1.6GHz Atom can deliver. Most OEMs ship some variant of Windows on these devices, and with less than 2GB of memory and a single-core in-order CPU, that’s just too much to be fast.


Back to ultraportables again

There’s also the issue of storage. Netbooks desperately need solid state storage, but a single 2.5” SSD is often over half the price of a netbook itself. Pair up a slow CPU with not enough memory and a really slow hard drive and it’s not a good combination.

Microsoft, Intel and Apple have all taught me one very important lesson over the past 13 years: if you’re going after a new usage model, you need new technology to tackle it. For Microsoft and Apple that meant a new UI with Media Center and the iPhone. For Intel it meant a brand new microarchitecture optimized for power efficiency. First with Banias (Pentium M/Centrino) and then with Atom.

Netbooks, and to a greater extent tablets, eReaders and smartbooks, are going after new usage models. These aren’t notebook replacements, they are a new category of device designed for a different usage model. The one thing they’ve all been missing is the perfect combination of hardware and software to deliver the whole package.

The one thing Apple prides itself on is doing just that. As one of very few one-stop hardware/software makers, it has the ability to tightly couple UI with physical design. We saw it manifest in its greatest way with the iPhone, and now Apple (or perhaps the media covering Apple) is attempting to recreate the magic with the iPad.


The final frontier?

The device doesn’t ship for another 60 days, but there’s a lot to talk about based on today’s introduction alone.

The Basics
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  • AmbroseAthan - Thursday, January 28, 2010 - link

    But it doesn't destroy the iPod touch in every way. The reason I want an iPod touch is music in my pocket (or any other MP3 player). The iPad does NOT offer this in any way. The only solution is too buy an iPad + an MP3 player, so I now have two devices again. The power of the iPhone/touch was that they gave you the internet and the apps in a pocket sized form factor.

    Personally, for the same price, and general size, as an iPad I can buy an Acer 1810T, have close to the same battery life, gain a keyboard, HDMI out, etc etc. Combined with my Touch, I can now do everything an iPad / MP3 player can do, I just am able to do almost all of it better, the exception possibly being e-reading. But, my Kindle does e-reading, and uses e-ink, so the iPad has no chance on winning the reason people use Kindle's, readability.
    Reply
  • AmbroseAthan - Thursday, January 28, 2010 - link

    But it doesn't destroy the iPod touch in every way. The reason I want an iPod touch is music in my pocket (or any other MP3 player). The iPad does NOT offer this in any way. The only solution is too buy an iPad + an MP3 player, so I now have two devices again. The power of the iPhone/touch was that they gave you the internet and the apps in a pocket sized form factor.

    Personally, for the same price, and general size, as an iPad I can buy an Acer 1810T, have close to the same battery life, gain a keyboard, HDMI out, etc etc. Combined with my Touch, I can now do everything an iPad / MP3 player can do, I just am able to do almost all of it better, the exception possibly being e-reading. But, my Kindle does e-reading, and uses e-ink, so the iPad has no chance on winning the reason people use Kindle's, readability.
    Reply
  • heulenwolf - Thursday, January 28, 2010 - link

    You're right, its the first in a whole new breakthrough category. Its called the coffee-table computer: http://agcrazylegs.blogspot.com/2010/01/ipad-its-c...">http://agcrazylegs.blogspot.com/2010/01...ts-coffe... Reply
  • T2k - Friday, January 29, 2010 - link

    Stop talking BS, only to plug your crappy-lame-clueless blog.
    MANY devices are available already, Apple is simply trying to re-badge an idea as theirs, as always..
    Reply
  • dotroy - Monday, February 01, 2010 - link

    You should shut your lame mouth. How old are you ? 12 ? Atech is not a clueless blog you idiot. iPad is not a re badge. Atom based net books all face trouble: "Try running Win7" on it and fire up photo shop let see you productivity. These days I have stopped reading blog comments because there seem to be lots of child out there who does not read the article and even after reading the article they do not undersatnd what is being said ..so they just be lame as usual. Reply
  • Symelian - Wednesday, February 03, 2010 - link

    ""Try running Win7" on it and fire up photo shop let see you productivity." - this is a totally inappropriate example - it's like saying that a crap car can't win the Le Mans - it wasn't built for that so ofc it will not be able to take it - why don't you try and render graphics (Maya/3DSMax) and so on and ofc it will run like crap ---> it's a NETbook - it's not a desktop computer and if u expect it to perform as one it will fail miserably

    the main thing for me against ever getting an iPad is the lack of multitasking - that's an absolute deal breaker for me without exception - it's 2010 and no multitasking? no tnx ....

    Reply
  • dotroy - Thursday, February 04, 2010 - link

    it's 2010 and no multitasking? no tnx .... that is either a lie or ignorance. Do you own a iphone ? iPhone can do multitasking for native application (Listen to music, read email) and you can add multitasking for any app if you use "backgrounder" app from Cydia. You can try it , if you actually own a iPhone. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, February 02, 2010 - link

    He's probably talking about real tablet PCs Reply
  • T2k - Friday, January 29, 2010 - link

    xxx Reply
  • afkrotch - Friday, January 29, 2010 - link

    So breakthrough, that it came out over a year ago from Archos. Reply

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