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The Tablet Hype

By Matthew Yglesias on January 4, 2010 at 4:44 pm

"The Tablet Hype"

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Andrew Golis observes that the tablet concept has been on the verge of saving the legacy media for fifteen years and that trend shows no sign of stopping. It’s kind of like the old joke about how Brazil is the country of the future and always will be. I’ll say that as a gadget lover, I find the current outbreak of tablet-mania a bit hard to understand. After all, what problem is an Apple tablet supposed to solve?

From the very first iPod I ever owned, I immediately started dreaming of an iPhone. After all, for a few years I’d already gotten used to carrying around a cell phone. Now I had this other cool new device. An iPhone would combine the two devices, simplifying things, and Apple would design it in such a way as to look cool. Obviously a bit more than that went into making the product, but at the end of the day that’s it—your iPhone is an iPod that also makes phone calls and it has an aesthetically pleasing design.

But why do I want a tablet? Magazine publishers seem to want me to want a tablet because after I have my tablet I’m allegedly supposed to want to pay them for tablet versions of their magazines. But that can’t be why I want a tablet. Is it supposed to replace my laptop? Is the idea that conventional laptops are too easy to type on? Or does it replace my kindle somehow? If you could make an iPhone-esque touch screen much bigger and do it at an affordable price, that might be a cool feature to ad to future MacBooks or iMacs—I’m sure programmers could devise something interesting to do with a new user interface—but nothing about typing on an iPhone has ever made me say if only I could replicate this experience in a device that doesn’tfit in my pocket!!!!

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