The Ipad, ExoPC, and the Future of Tablets February 18, 2011Posted by Marcus in Hardware.
Tags: Android, Apple, Blackberry, ExoPC, future, Gadgets, Google, Ipad, Microsoft, Slates, Tablets
Tablets are in a strange place right now, We know what they are supposed to look like and about how much they should cost, however we have yet to figure out what they are supposed to do. That should be the first thing, right? I was excited when tablet computing burst onto the scene last year with the release of the Ipad. However since then we haven’t figured out where to draw the line between functionality and simplicity. So far most tablets have fallen into two categories, “big phone” and “computer without a keyboard”, and neither of these work. There are a lot of good things about the Ipad, but paying for the price of a laptop and getting the functionality of a smartphone is absolutely absurd, and not fair to the consumer. At the same time, putting Windows 7 on a touchscreen doesn’t work too terribly well either. So then that leaves us with one product that has gotten fairly close.
The ExoPC was released late 2010 and has quietly been selling in unreported, however predictably low numbers. Despite this, it is one of the most ingenious items on the market to date. The concept behind the device is fairly simple. Take windows 7 and overlay it with a touch UI. Seems simple enough, however they didn’t stop there. They also set up a marketplace, and made a SDK making it possible to develop apps for the device UI. The UI itself takes advantage of the large screen size, and includes touch friendly multi-tasking. Then to top it all off, they allow you to minimize the ExoPC UI and run regular old Windows 7. The combination gives you full functionality when you need it and simplicity when you don’t. The device is a work of genius given its competition. However, it is not quite there. The problem ExoPc has is that it isn’t made by Apple, Google, or Microsoft. And regrettably won’t gain enough market share to be a mainstream contender in the market. I’m not saying that for sure, because I hope more than anyone that it does.
If ExoPC does not conquer the tablet world, all is not lost looking forward. Both Microsoft and Apple have talked about touch being a huge part of their next operating systems, alongside that Blackberry is looking to bring true multi-tasking to their 7″ Playbook. What I think the future of tablet computing will be is full-fledged operating systems with an overlay of touch functionality by the two companies that do operating systems best. I personally don’t see Google Android or Blackberry doing well after the dust settles in the tablet market. It will be fascinating to see how this develops in the next couple years, and in the mean time thank-you ExoPC for getting the ball moving in the right direction.