Do we need another device to add to our smartphone and laptop arsenal? Maybe, maybe not, but there are now a gazillion gadgets trying to squeeze into that middle window. Chip-maker ARM predicts that more than 50 “tablet PC devices” will launch this year trying to ride the wave of the Apple iPad. Certainly there are small’ish tablet PCs on the market already, but the “middle” market has also been hit by the eBook tsunami, and new concept devices and even software are appearing from sources ranging from Microsoft to Time Inc.
I don’t really think tablet is the best descriptive term here because I’m not convinced most people will use a device like this primarily for writing or drawing. However, I do think there is a growing desire for something portable to read and otherwise consume stuff on. Not just books, but magazines, newspapers, movies, TV shows, etc. My smartphone does ok for catching up on RSS reading on a flight, but it’s not great. And if I take out my netbook, well I might as well just do work. On the other hand, I still find myself buying a magazine or a paperback to get through a long flight. And over lunch, or at home in the evenings, I’d love to be able to scan articles without opening my computer.
So here we are in the middle. We don’t know exactly what we need, but we think we want something. And for the rest of this year at least, gadget makers are going to give us a lot of options to fill that hole.