"Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition." --- Dennis Gabor, British physicist and author of Inventing the Future, 1962.
The invention of the Fax Machine and the internet quashed this cynic's outlook on the digitization of information, an optimistic one when compared to today's predictions on the future of some e-reader and tablet devices. E-readers like the Nook and Kindle are a household staple in many parts of the world, and tablets are quickly replacing stacks of books in classrooms.
Conceptualized in 1968 by Alan Kay at Xerox, (that’s right, NOT Apple) the first tablet was envisioned as a learning device for children of all ages. Dubbed the “DynaBook,” it was intended to be a thin form-factor computer even before the laptop made it to the mainstream. Kay’s concept described several ideas that have become realities today.
Popular wishes for future tablets and e-readers are more or less sane, including a thinner profile, longer battery life, full color and integrated sharing. Will they replace paper books, magazines, mail and human instructors in the near future? Probably not. While the convenience of storage, portability and Wi-Fi is attractive, history has taught us that simple, physical things will always outlive technology. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t want one.
While 2012 marks the end of the world for everything else, the tablet era is only just getting started in a big way. This year several new tablet and handheld PC models will be released and the tablet wars will be on. If you have some holiday money left to spend, save it up. The best is coming!
Amazon Kindle 10" Tablet
Amazon has not officially announced what this tablet will be called, but we can safely guess it will simply be the next Amazon Fire in 10” HD glory, complete with all the bells and whistles in current Amazon e-readers, plus the added power of (purportedly) some light word processing, broader app range and upgraded storage. Amazon is planning to release a few tablet and e-reader devices this year to strengthen their already solid grip on the market, with this new 10-inch tablet making its debut in the next few months.
The touch-powered Kindle 4 will likely hit this summer, followed by a new 7” tablet and a rumored Smartphone. As you can expect, Amazon is predicted to ship as many as 40 million devices this year in a steady increase from 2011. Where the gadget itself is concerned, expect improvements in responsiveness, storage, battery life and usability - nothing breakthrough.
As for competition from the iPad or Galaxy Tablet, there probably won't be any when it comes to consumers looking for a pure E-Reading and media streaming experience, but don't expect the Amazon tablet family to topple Apple or Android just yet. As predicted by Forbes, pads and tablets will probably down-price into E-Reader territory, making 2012 a breakout year for who can innovate the fastest, market the hardest and price the lowest.
Microsoft Metro Tablet
Back in September, Microsoft unveiled the completely evolved Windows 8 during their BUILD developer conference. The key feature is the Metro interface, touch-driven and optimized for tablets and mobile devices to compete with Apple.
This new model is more about managing your life and interests, designed to be easily customizable and familiar to web users. METRO’s tiles work much like widgets on a website, giving you a preview of app content or purpose, and aim to change the way we interact with computers. Like the iPad, the device will not support Flash, putting even more pressure on developers to move to HTML5.
As for hardware specs, you can expect these tablets to pack a punch, although no official builds have been unveiled yet. In the works are Windows8 Tablets from Samsung, Dell, HP and Nokia. The Dell concept in particular touts the following:
10 inch capacitive touchscreen display, 1920 x 1080 full HD resolution, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0 and 4G connectivity, 80GB storage, 2.3GHz Nvidia Tegra processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM and an 8 megapixel camera with 1080p HD video.
Apple iPad 3
Unlike the concept pictured above, the Apple iPad3 will not be bezel-less, much to consumer disappointment. The iPad3 is still the single most anticipated tablet device scheduled for release this year, with improved form factor, performance, life, storage, UI, and display. The tablet is due to hit stores in late February.
When it comes to power, you can expect the iPad3 to have an A6 Quad-core processor – the most powerful available for the size, the possibility of OSX Lion (which means multitasking) instead of iOS5, an updated 5MP camera with HD video, fingerprint-less Retina display (2048 x 1536 pixels!) and desktop browsing. You can also expect it will be priced relatively lower than the iPad2 was at release in order to maintain its massive market share in the face of increased competition.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich Tablets
If you are shopping for a tablet and don’t want an iPad, an Andoid Tab is probably the safest buy. Most manufacturers will be building Android tablets around Nividia’s new Tegra processor, putting it neck-and-neck with the iPad and probable Windows 8 tablets. The designs vary from one manufacturer to another, but most offer similar features to the other tablets on this list, such as high resolution, thin form factor, increased storage and battery life, 4G connectivity and HD photo and video.
What other tablets won’t have is Ice Cream Sandwich, Google’s new and improved powerhouse OS. Google's previous Honeycomb OS turned out to have s many flaws that it wrote Android out of the tablet game in 2011, but the new Ice Cream Sandwich vastly improves Google’s chances of making a huge splash. One of the first tablets to ship with the new OS is the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime which comes with a detachable keyboard that can turn the tablet into a laptop with a simple slide and flip.
Another model to anticipate is the impressive new 11.6-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress in February. With a 2560 x 1600 HD, cutting-edge processing power, thin bezel and low price point, you can expect it to be a killer.
This is a guest article by Vail Joy who is a long-time writer, designer and copy editor with 15 years of experience in corporate business writing, music journalism and internet media design. When she is not hard at work designing something, she loves writing for Wix.com, the free website builder.