The Tablet PC: An in depth look with the FIC SlateVisionby Matthew Witheiler on December 12, 2002 7:43 AM EST
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Every few years a new electronic product comes along that promises to revolutionize the computing world. The past few years have seen everything from digital cameras to LCDs arrive in an attempt to change the way we use our computers. Obviously, some of these products are met with more success than others. For the most part, the success of these products is largely dependent on the backing of the product being announced. A truly revolutionary product may enjoy no market success without the funding and force necessary to ensure that the item both finds itself on the retail market and into the hands of consumers. At the same time, an inferior product may succeed wonderfully given enough funding. Getting the backing necessary to ensure a successful product launch is not the only roadblock in the way of success. In fact, even the backing of a major corporation does not always secure success. Take the Microsoft sponsored eBook "revolution" for example.
You may recall the launch of Microsoft Reader a few years back. Touted as a new technology that could change the way we receive information, the launch of Reader was paired with the launch of dedicated reading devices. Called dedicated eBook readers, a number of companies entered this market including large brand names such as RCA. With Microsoft pushing the effort there was nothing to lose, right? Wrong.
Sales of dedicated eBook readers were dismal right out the gate. It seems that the software giant had overestimated users' willingness to discard paper and ink for an LCD monitor and text. The poor sales trend continued, exemplified today by the lack of dedicated eBook readers on the market. Not only Microsoft was left to bear the consequences of the unsuccessful launch but so were the hardware venders who made products supporting the new software. Companies like RCA were left with a large inventory of unsold eBook readers which their were forced to let go at a fraction of their original price. This all goes to show that although money is important in a new product's success it is not the only factor.
It has been four years since Microsoft first debuted Microsoft Reader software. Hoping to have learned from their past mistakes Microsoft is at it again, providing new software developed for new hardware. This time around Microsoft is suggesting you do something almost as drastic as throwing away your favorite book: it is now telling users to throw away their pen and paper and replace it with a Tablet PC. Launched less than a month ago, the Tablet PC "revolution" has drawn quite a bit of attention recently. The problem is that most of the information out there about Tablet PCs is very basic or just plain marketing hype. Today we solve that problem by taking an AnandTech look at Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, the various software solutions out there for the operating system, and the hardware that drives the software. Follow us as we discover if the Tablet PC is truly revolutionary or just another dedicated eBook reader.