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Cheap Linux Tablets, And (Maybe) An Apple Tablet

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the truth-and-speculation-obscure-each-other dept.

Linux Business 351

penguinrenegade writes "Element Computer has come out with the first sub-$1000 Tablet, and it doesn't come with Windows. It's not running a stripped OS like Windows CE, but a full-fledged copy of Lycoris Desktop/LX. This company seems to really have it in for Microsoft, with a 'No Windows' policy. Good to see someone finally standing up against paying the Microsoft tax. Maybe now we'll start seeing Linux only OEMs and resellers." Also on the tablet computer front, SeanAhern points out Cringely's latest Robert X. Cringely column, in which Cringley makes the case that Apple is readying a tablet computer for market, and "suggests that 'until next year, the parts won't have been there to make tablet PCs successful. What's missing has been the killer app, and what kept a killer app from appearing was a lack of hardware support, which I believe will be over soon,'" writing "He's got some interesting ideas about where Jobs might go with his Digital Hub idea." (This is an Antaur-based machine, not the Toshiba tablet mentioned in October.)

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Some things are very very long. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605048)

But this post isn't

Some Operating Systems are very good! (-1, Troll)

L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605062)

But Linux isn't.

Re:Some Operating Systems are very good! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605113)

Was heisst Schnittlauch auf Englisch?

Re:Some Operating Systems are very good! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605288)

Windows runs solid on this NFORCE motherboard I have. APIC mode. Everything enabled. FreeBSD 5.1 does too.

But when IO-APIC and L-APIC are enabled on 2.6.0 or 2.4.0 "stable", the board hangs. It hangs without a kernel panic or any information as to why it just hung.

So this is true, this is one of thousands of things that makes Linux not qualify as "very good".

I would say Linux is a poor rehash of late 1970's technology that fails to innovte anything new.

A lot of this has to do with the fact several of the inner circle elite in Linux brag about not reading papers on how to do things right and re-invent things that have already been perfected in a poor way.

Linux is a crude framework as a kernel, with a lot of drivers written for it. The meat and potatoes are all being added in by real vendors.

While Linus was right in making Linux "better" than Minux, he is VERY far from being a prodigy in kernel design.

Those of you who think Linux has anything other than being free (GNU/Infected) on things like Solaris or even FreeBSD are deluded.

Built in TV tuner! (5, Interesting)

i_am_syco (694486) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605054)

Apple's bound to make a tablet eventually. If the market demands it, it'll definitely happen, and the current tablets on the market suck. Apple's got the Newton tech for handwriting recog, as well as Inkwell, the most underused feature in OS, all you have to add is a touch sensitive screen and BINGO.

a BOLD prediction (0, Flamebait)

Mr. Troll (202208) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605127)

Apple's tablet will probably have some catchy yet mildly queer name (the Applet or something).....and it will, without a doubt, be THE most expensive tablet out there.

Yes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605167)

and you and you league of extraordinary gay retards will probably feel the irresistable urge to express your anal expulsive opinions about it from the day it hits the market...

Re:a BOLD prediction (2, Insightful)

veddermatic (143964) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605168)

And will no doubt be the only Tablet that people actually want, and that does what people need a Tablet to do.

Then, three years later, the x86 crowd will rip it off and Mac bashers will once again jump back on the "HUR HUR MACS COST MONEY HUR HUR" bandwagon.

Re:a BOLD prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605392)

Like their computers, the only desktop that people actually want. Which is why they have such a huge market share.

Inkwell == Rosetta (5, Insightful)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605166)

Inkwell is the Newton's handwriting recognition engine ported to OS X.

For certain uses, tablets are great. I loved the Newton - it was a great computing solution for people who have to stand up. (Like walking around doing inventory control, or doing data entry while inspecting a highway, doctors, etc.)

If Apple could also market it so that it competes with something like the Wacom Cintiq tablets, but also could have a keyboard plugged in and be like a full blown Mac, I could see it filling a niche.

Re:Inkwell == Rosetta (4, Interesting)

i_am_syco (694486) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605265)

There have most likely been refinements to the engine. I mean, Newton was far from perfect in terms of handwriting recognition. It was great, but like everything, it wasn't perfect. Apple could've easily pumped a hundred thousand dollars into it and make it kick ass. Not to mention that if they DO come out with a tablet, it's going to have the hand recog improved as much as possible.

i have the flu (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605056)

and i feel terrible

Re:i have the flu (-1, Troll)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605109)

No you don't. Quit lying - you feel great.

Re:i have the flu (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605126)

I can mek you feal hole agayn!

That's why I had to add a second one. (-1, Offtopic)

teutonic_leech (596265) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605057)

Not number one, but hey, you can't always win.

Interesting... (4, Insightful)

Atragon (711454) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605061)

Depending on the software availability angle, this could be a major breakthrough for Linux, being the primary OS for a vendor.

Linux tablet (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605072)

I don't see how a Linux tablet would even work... mainly because the lack of Linux handwriting recognition. Sure, you could do it, but would someone be as productive with one as with a windows one?

But... an apple tablet... my mouth is drooling now...

--1-888-633-3446 -> call me.

Fastest Slashdotting ever? (4, Interesting)

Radi-0-head (261712) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605073)

Man that was fast... and this error makes me wonder:

1226 - User 'elementc_ms2' has exceeded the 'max_questions' resource (current value: 10000)

Does that mean there are in excess of 10,000 people trying to hit this site at once? Wow.

Re:Fastest Slashdotting ever? (1, Troll)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605096)

Probably per day. I had no idea /. had that many subscribers!

Re:Fastest Slashdotting ever? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605148)

yes teh homoseksual comunity is vary bigg now!

Re:Fastest Slashdotting ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605323)

Google news cover page has just linked to lashdot post on non-microsoft tablets - should be lots of hits

SQL Injection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605170)

Thanks /. now I don't have to go to all that trouble. I can hack their db just by a good 'ol slashdotting. Guess what everyone in my family's getting for Xmas!!1

Re:Fastest Slashdotting ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605225)

No, it means it's a fly-by-night company vainly trying to compete in the hardware world when it can't even afford some decent bandwidth. Linux, indeed!

Re:Fastest Slashdotting ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605380)

but now they can overclock, because that comment is so cold

Robert X. Cringely (4, Interesting)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605077)

If i remember correctly, Robert X. Cringely was the same guy who wrote that Win XP ran DOS underneath becasue "cmd" works and that windows should be based on linux instead because linux is better than DOS.
For all the stupid things i have seen on /. , what i dont understand is why this guy is so important?

Re:Robert X. Cringely (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605114)

He blows Taco?

Re:Robert X. Cringely (4, Interesting)

Teflik (4823) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605156)

The way I see it, Cringely is a very good historian. He's good at sifting throught the facts of what has already happened, and putting things together accurately.

As far I I'm concerned, he's a totally worthless and annoying analyst. He rarely knows what the hell he's talking about.

I don't know what slashdot sees in him either most of the time.

Re:Robert X. Cringely (2, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605387)

give me a fucking break. He's not a historian, he's not an analyst, he's a journalist. He can throw together a summary of what he's read elsewhere, add in some predictions, and spell check it.

Now you know why he fits in at slashdot.

Re:Robert X. Cringely (2, Interesting)

somethinghollow (530478) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605195)

So, what? He made ONE blatantly stupid mistake (though I'm sure people will jump to their guns and show me all the other mistakes he has ever made, too). I still read his column every week, and I still enjoy it. I even enjoyed reading the one in question, even if it wasn't accurate.

It's just a tech column. Nothing to get one's panties in a wad over. There are other people saying worse things in other places, like once upon a time on tech tv [] .

Re:Robert X. Cringely (1, Insightful)

Radi-0-head (261712) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605214)

Granted, yes, it was a single mistake...

BUT A *REALLY* FUCKING STUPID ONE! The kind that tend to destroy your reputation instantly.

Does anyone not agree?

Re:Robert X. Cringely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605232)

" wasn't accurate.... It's just a tech column".

Tell us.... what is the point of an inaccurate tech column?

Re:Robert X. Cringely (2, Informative)

iantri (687643) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605208)

In case anyone is wondering, here is the article. []

Yes, it's unbelievably muddled -- Cringely suggests that Microsoft could simply pick up the Windows GUI system and magically turn it into an X window manager.

Re:Robert X. Cringely (5, Interesting)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605296)

I have to stand up for Cringely somewhat on this one. The cmd comment is dumb, admittedly, and from an economic and business standpoint, clearly MS would never want to do something like this. Nonetheless, the Win32 API could be ported to run on top of Linux/X. What exactly do you think WINE is, if not 80% of such a beast. And if Microsoft made it themselves, it would actually work well, rather than just working sometimes like WINE.

Another way of looking at it is that he's saying that somebody could create a lot of value on top of the existing Linux platform by making a decent GUI/Windowing System, the same way that Apple did with OS X, and still have a viable commercial product out of it, one which would be better than Windows in many ways, which I agree with as well. Again, clearly makes no sense from a business perspective, but the idea isn't as totally without merit as you make it seem.

Re:Robert X. Cringely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605341)

Yah... but microsoft doesn't even want to recognize Linux as a "current" OS...never mind a superior one. I mean come on... Server 2003 is being released with MS Virtual PC(formerly by connectix) so you can run your "Legacy" Linix apps?? Who are they kidding??? Lin is NOT legacy. It's more up to date than Windows EVER will be.

He also Lied about having a PHD at Stanford. (2, Informative)

jelwell (2152) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605378)

He's also the guy that lied [] about having a PHD.

One more thing, his "Killer App" of a digital hub is simply based on Steve Job's quote [] made just last month. But, personally, I don't think Cringely is on the right path. Jobs has said before that the TV and computer shouldn't merge, and Job's idea of Digital Hub has been iTunes, iDVD etc, not directly interacting with your home appliances.

Joseph Elwell.

cool (0, Redundant)

lazybeam (162300) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605080)


Too bad the site is already Slashdotted. :(

imagine that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605081)

the linux tablet website running apache/linux and php/mySQL down after 1 comment.

thank you, sir, may I have another???

Apple != Tablet (3, Funny)

OmniVector (569062) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605084)

According to Steve Jobs himself [] I don't think we can expect to see a tablet from apple at all. It's a niche product in a niche computer field.

Re:Apple != Tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605102)

But Apple specialises in niche products!

Re:Apple != Tablet (5, Informative)

evn (686927) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605165)

Except that is a parody site and not actually steve jobs' web-log.

There are no plans to make a tablet. It turns out people want keyboards. When Apple first started out, "People couldn't type. We realized: Death would eventually take care of this." "We look at the tablet and we think it's going to fail." Tablets appeal to rich guys with plenty of other PCs and devices already. "And people accuse us of niche markets." I get a lot of pressure to do a PDA. What people really seem to want to do with these is get the data out. We believe cell phones are going to carry this information. We didn't think we'd do well in the cell phone business. What we've done instead is we've written what we think is some of the best software in the world to start syncing information between devices. We believe that mode is what cell phones need to get to. We chose to do the iPod instead of a PDA.

This is from the horse's mouth, a transcript [] of an interview between Steve Jobs and Walt Mossberg at "all things digital". (sorry I couldn't find the article on a "good" source (ie: google news) so go easy on it.

Re:Apple != Tablet (5, Funny)

sysopd (617656) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605169)

then how do you explain this pic I have of the new prototype [] ?

Already? (1, Redundant)

Wesser (640550) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605085)

"1226 - User 'elementc_ms2' has exceeded the 'max_questions' resource (current value: 10000)"

Only a few posts and the site has already been slashquestioned? What is this world coming to when people ask > 10000 questions in the first few minutes of a post!?!

Just a large palm pilot (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605087)

Yea...a really expensive palm pilot by Apple :)

Re:Just a large palm pilot (1)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605157)

Yeah, but it will look so damn cool.

Re:Just a large palm pilot (4, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605242)

well it's circular thinking..

**What's missing has been the killer app, and what kept a killer app from appearing was a lack of hardware support, which I believe will be over soon**

killer app hasn't come because there hasn't been hardware deployed widely(i take 'hardware support' as this, lack of market), but wouldn't a killer app be the thing that would enable that hardware to sell.. so that there would be enough of them deployed for somebody to make that killer app..

well personally i'd have the 'killer app' for myself, but that would need it to be water proof.

what's that you ask, what would be my killer app? reading while in bath(or while showering, but that would waste water and that would be bad karma right? or maybe while in a rain). really, the places where you couldn't use a laptop are pretty much the places where you can't have the fragility(and being afraid of water) of a laptop. if it was STURDY, and liquidproof there would be lots of uses for it.

well, of course if you were of disgusting mind(such as myself) you could imagine using it for pron while at there..

Running website on a tablet it seems (-1, Redundant)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605093)

1226 - User 'elementc_ms2' has exceeded the 'max_questions' resource (current value: 10000)

select value from sessions where sesskey = 'b7d94fcc14099088e169d84b44c8af6f' and expiry > '1070328627'



Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605097)

When you are logged in, /. ties your user account to any Anonymous Coward postings you make... thus they know who posted it. To demonstrate this:

1. Get mod points.
2. Post an AC comment while logged in
3. Change your dynamic ip, clear all cookies
4. Log back in and try to moderate your AC comment... you can't!!!

Thus, please *log out* AND use another browser before making your AC comments.

Thank you.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605220)

Offtopic? This information is vital to ACs everywhere! Now we have to worry about Big Brother (AKA Slashdot) keeping track of our comments so the FBI can send us to Guantanimo! I think we should all speak to our attorneys.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605297)

If this is true, this is the biggest scandal to hit Slashdot ever. More users should try this and see if it's true. I'm outraged quite frankly.

Screenshot! (-1, Redundant)

imag0 (605684) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605101)

1226 - User 'elementc_ms2' has exceeded the 'max_questions' resource (current value: 10000)

select value from sessions where sesskey = '196ee12e9e041c110b45dbcef015e07c' and expiry > '1070328666'


Hm. I think they need to work on the GUI a little more.

Now this is just personal opinion (2, Insightful)

Amiga Lover (708890) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605112)

But a tablet mac sounds like the furthest device from possibility to me. I'm just going on gut feeling admittedly.

Apple tend to innovate in solid areas. There's the odd revolution (the original mac, the original powerbooks) and then there's refining what already exists and people want, such as iPods

a Mac tablet would be refining a current idea that few people want.

Re:Now this is just personal opinion (1)

showmeshowyoukikoman (659208) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605196)

How exactly were the powerbooks a revolution? Laptops existed, and they worked as well as the powerbooks (i.e. they all crashed about as often, batteries lasted about as long, and they would all start to burn your legs eventually.)

Anyhow, I'm pretty sure apple is just planning to bring back the newton. Some guy on ebay with the userID sbojs has been buying them up like MAD! (Check it out, I think that's just S.Jobs BACKWARDS!!)


Re:Now this is just personal opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605271)

Laptops of some kind existed, but Apple brought the keyboard under screen & controls to the front, slim & lightweight fold up style to popularity. Before that there were 'laptops' that were more luggables like the first mac portable, early toshibas, atari Stacey and others with all kinds of shapes. Suddenly after the Powerbook 100 series success, nearly every laptop manufacturer settled on that same design.

As for burning legs, I think you must have grown up in a different time to me. All of the 68k mac powerbooks and most early x86 ones except the 68040 and late 486 ones ran ice cold. I couldn't tell if they're on or off by their temperature. Even then, the 040s just got "warm"

Re:Now this is just personal opinion (4, Interesting)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605235)

a Mac tablet would be refining a current idea that few people want.
Not really. Lots of people want tablet PCs, they just don't want the ones that have been released so far. What most people want is what Apple would most likely deliver - thin, light, easy to use, with built-in networking. Basically, a very large PDA with the power of a laptop.

So far most tablet PCs have included a keyboard, which is nuts if you've ever used a Pocket PC's handwriting recognition -- the technology is there, just give it to us in a larger form factor (with a 2 GHz processor, 512Meg Ram, a hard drive, and a real OS, not Windows CE). They're also way too expensive, a feature I'm afraid Apple would likely copy.

Re:Now this is just personal opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605291)

> Basically, a very large PDA with the power of a laptop.

I feel dirty saying this but

Newton 2x00!

162MHz of ARM cpu in a large PDA in 1997. about 2/3 the speed of laptops at the time, handwriting recognition that was pretty decent, and an OS designed from the ground up to be used portably, with a stylus.

Mark my words, come macworld january 2004, the newton will be making a comeback

eMate, phase II (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605388)

Actually what would ROCK would be a re-envisioning of the eMate. A friend of mine has one and has been using it every day since 1997. Tough as nails and still looks every bit as cool as it did when it first came out. Ran NewtonOS. Kickass.

Re:Now this is just personal opinion (2, Interesting)

Jeffery McGrew (541937) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605361)

As an Architect, who has had the chance to play with a Wacom flatscreen tablet at trade shows (the tech that most tablets use), I can attest to the fact that it's not that people don't want tablets. However I disagree with the 'big PDA' reasoning.

I would love one, and most people I know in the construction/design industry would too. And I don't care about handwritting recon, for I'd just jot down notes in the feild, then retype them anyways later. The *real* issue is that the bright minds in Redmond decided that tablet PC's shouldn't even have the power of a simular-sized & weighted laptop, but instead should be a very expensive electronic legal pad/sketchbook based on a modded version of WinCE & sub-par processors. Every time I see the specs for a tablet PC, my heart sinks, for if it only had a decent processor and decent memory (i.e. the same as any damn modern laptop) so that it could run Windows 2K/Linux and CAD software (or was made by apple and had at least a G4 in it) I know I would have bit a long time ago...

Re:Now this is just personal opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605368)

A tablet PC is like a flying car. Everyone thinks they'd be cool and presumes everyone else would want one, but nobody actually thinks they're worth buying for themselves.

(disclaimer: nobody +/- 10% of the population)

Linux in the marketplace (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605115)

"Maybe now we'll start seeing Linux only OEMs and resellers."

That was never a problem in the first place. It is that Microsoft has threatened to revoke the ability of retailers to carry computers with Windows alongside with other OSes (i.e. stop selling Linux, or you can't sell Windows). Most retailers balked, since most of their business is Windows, they'd rather not have to worry about losing a large portion of their customers for the sake of those that want Linux.

Re:Linux in the marketplace (1)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605253)

"Most retailers balked, since most of their business is Windows, they'd rather not have to worry about losing a large portion of their customers for the sake of those that want Linux.

Somehow I doubt retailers were arm twisted into selling only Windows. It's a pain in the ass to support more than one OS. "Uh, I bought a game at CompUSA, and it doesn't run on my computer. Why???"

Antitrust case. (1)

Compact Dick (518888) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605360)

Somehow I doubt retailers were arm twisted into selling only Windows.
This was one of the main points of the antitrust case against Microsoft. From The Register [] :
One of the reasons for the failure of BeOS, Hacker identifies, was the inability to induce OEMs to provide true dual-boot machines. Be adopted a non-confrontational approach, seeking to provide a Windows alternative rather than a replacement. It later produced a version that boots from inside Windows, and it even offered OEMs BeOS for free. However
Microsoft OEM contracts forbid a visible dual-boot option, and although OEMs were keen to differentiate themselves by offering Be's "Media OS" as an alternative, they risked breaching the OEM agreements.

Re:Linux in the marketplace (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605306)

I very much doubt that was the main issue. Lots of stores sell Apples along side Windows.

Also the vast majority of software sold in stores are for Windows. So what are you going to sell?

"I want to play that game. What do I need?"

worrys about tablets (4, Informative)

CaptBubba (696284) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605116)

I can't get to the site, but he's my ramble: I think the tablets are an interesting take on the notebook/laptop (whichever you call it). As a student, I feel that if they ever came down in price they could be very useful for taking notes on. A laptop works decently for some classes where the majority of the notes are non-symbolic, but trying to take notes in a math or physics class is simply impossible, with the subscipts and sketches.

But, how do you protect that screen? Something big like that just seems to be a huge scratch and scuff collector. Is this the case or am I just missing something obvious again?

Re:worrys about tablets (3, Insightful)

vruba (652537) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605261)

Paper and pen(cil) are very good for taking sketch-like notes. If you'd just convert raster sketch-notes taken on a tablet to MathML (e.g.) anyway, you might as well do the same thing working from paper. In other words, there's no extra convenience in recording notes digitally if you're going to do a computationally difficult/impossible transform on them before it matters whether they're digital.

I think any tablet would have to have an extremely good equation-recognition system before most people would find it useful for taking notes. Even then it would be competing with pen and paper for speed and flexibility of interface. I wouldn't consider paying for something that just gave me what I'd get if I scanned my analog notes.

Tablets might be a good idea someday, but I don't think even Apple can do it with (what little I know of) current natural-graphics-recognition technology. Wake me up when they're twice as good as pen and paper and cost less than three times as much.

Re:worrys about tablets (2, Interesting)

somethinghollow (530478) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605268)

Apparently Largo, FL, saw fit to install them in police cars instead of laptops. Their justification was that it's not the entire laptops that get destroyed, just the keyboards, which are too expensive/tedious to replace. So, they decided to go with tablets and keyboards that plug into the tablets via USB or PS/2 or whatever.

Don't forget that Largo is the All Linux city, either. Everything runs as a slim-client to a central server.

Problem is that the police wouldn't be toting them around in a backpack. I assume, though, that there HAS to be some sort of protection for them, even if it is just a nice carrying case.

Re:worrys about tablets (3, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605362)

But, how do you protect that screen? Something big like that just seems to be a huge scratch and scuff collector. Is this the case or am I just missing something obvious again?

The best tablets have a rotating screen. At first glance, they look just like a slim laptop, complete with keyboard. Unlock the screen, rotate it 180deg, and shut the clamshell, and now you have a tablet. There's nothing you can do about protecting the screen while you're using it, but when transporting and storing it you'd have it in the laptop configuration (screen facing the keyboard while closed).

Not all tablets are built this way, but the good ones (read: expensive ones) are.

Should have happened years ago. (4, Interesting)

ActionPlant (721843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605117)

"Maybe now we'll start seeing Linux only OEMs and resellers."

Wishful thinking, and I'm wishing it too. The problem is a base. Tablet PCs haven't been doing so hot (at least not in my neighborhood). The only major interest that I've seen on a large scale has been that of FedEx looking to implement them with their current DADS system, in addition to maintaining open communications with cellular towers. I'm a FedEx dispatcher myself, so I'm kept abreast of what technologies we're planning on moving to in the future. Tablet PCs in the field will help keep us even more accurately up-to-date. Currently, our drivers can only transmit when in range of our larger towers (which are only in the cities), meaning that customers wanting updated tracking information on a package routed to a rural area just have to sit and wait until the driver is in range to transmit data confirming that he/she has indeed delivered that package. With properly equipped tablets, we're hoping to eliminate this problem with true real-time status updates.

What's curious is that, though I may have my head in the clouds, I've really not heard of any other major market for these things beyond novelty. The exception being the Apple rumor. Had apple had access to the technology in a financially feasable market (say 1994) I can absolutely see how ClarisWorks 4 could have dominated the word processing market of that day, and we'd have tablet PCs everywhere. As it stands now, I get the impression that people aren't quite sure what to do with these crazy things.


Re:Should have happened years ago. (1)

DGolden (17848) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605248)

Tablets are nice if you're a computer artist. Since the line appears under the pen, it feels like drawing with light.

I want a linux tablet. I was considering getting a WinXP tablet, but having tried WinXP "tablet edition", it's definitely the usual MS-botched UI that lets the Tablet-PC down, not the hardware.

X, coming from a unix graphics workstation background, has long had good pressure-sensitive tablet support that things like the GIMP can use, and a linux tablet could rock.

RTFA? (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605122)

Thanks guys. . . . Now I have a valid excuse for not RTFA-ing.

The Future is Open.

Ah! Our time is improving. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605125)

We didn't even get to post a comment about how XXX should RTFA before it went down.

perhaps slashdot acumen will once again rule (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605129)

Based on this post: /index.html full of stupid fucking morons blabbering about how poorly the iPod will fare, I expect the long mouthshit of slashbot commentary to 1)be viciously anti-Apple and 2)totally fucking wrong.

Suck my fat fucking cock, slashdot

Re:perhaps slashdot acumen will once again rule (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605190)

Corr.: I wrongly claimed having a "fat fucking cock".

True is: neither is my sexual organ fat, nor has it ever been fucking.

I am sorry to be such a failure.

Have a good night, I must go molest a mole.

Microsoft (1)

Necro Spork (260099) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605133)

It was greatly surprising to find news about this tablet on MSNBC with no comments inferring that it was unstable, inferior, communist... =-

Praise be.........To Google Cache (4, Informative)

OctaneZ (73357) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605138)

Front Page []
It's not much, but at least provides a "look" at one of their products.

ahhh! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605141)

screw you all ...
thanks to slashdot I can't get to the website..!

Re:ahhh! (1)

Kleedrac2 (257408) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605267)

But the irony of it all is that if it weren't for /. you wouldn't know about the site!


graphics tablets and touch screens (1)

bob_calder (673103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605143)

I had a graphics tablet on an Amiga (custom written driver) - in 32 lovely colors. I now have a pathetic giant touch screen - which I hate - for demonstration purposes. Yes, I have tried the inkwell, but nothing I have found seems to be good for anything but jotting down the odd note.

My point, thanks for following along, is one made at Siggraph many times. What we have in terms of display technology is in need of a real change. Not just the odd incremental hop - which is what tablet computing is.

typo alert! (5, Funny)

knowles420 (589383) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605151)


OS like Windows CE

should read:

OS-like Windows CE

Not quite there yet (4, Funny)

product byproduct (628318) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605159)

Tablet computers hold great promise, especially for medical applications. But the current models are still way too large to swallow.

apple tablet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605163)

Well, Jobs said there would never be an Apple tablet. And as much as I'd *LOVE* to have one (thinking of my Sharp Zaurus, but with Apple's UI and attention to detail and great design), I can't see how apple could justify such a niche product.

My dream Apple tablet would be around 8-9 inches, lightweight and low-power, built-in wireless, minimal storage, basically a satellite for a laptop or desktop.

But reading the article I see what Cringely is really talking about is a portable *video player*, or basically a revolutionary type of portable TV.

And I've often thought about how Apple's next move could be a TiVo-like device... put all these concepts together: iPod, high-speed wireless, color display, tablet PC, TiVo... you just might come up with something really cool with mainstream appeal (at least among the iPod crowd).

Some kind of video iPod that automatically docks wirelessly perhaps? Seamlessly go between a portable video player and your big screen TV? Tie it in with an "iVideo store"? Could Steve charm the movie industry the way he did the RIAA vultures? Hey, he's the CEO of Pixar, he must know a few people....

Food for thought anyway, it's about time for Apple to redefine a category and TV/Video is ripe for some Apple-style innovation ...

text of article (2, Informative)

jabella (91754) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605164)

NOVEMBER 27, 2003

Digital Hubris:

Apple's Tablet Computer Might Finally Be That Link Between Your PC and TV
By Robert X. Cringely

High-tech is relentlessly optimistic and for good reason: the good times -- ALL the good times -- are caused by product transitions. New stuff costs more, has higher profit margins, and occasionally leads to changes in market leadership. A year or two later, these products will have been commoditized, the profit sucked out of them by intense competition, and it will be time to move on to the next big thing. Four years ago, the cheapest 802.11b access point you could buy cost $299. This week, I saw one advertised that with rebates brought the final cost down to zero, nothing, nada, zilch. Time to move on. So high-tech is always looking forward, never back, and taking a gamble on something new isn't perceived so much as a gamble but as a way of life.

The techniques for getting us to buy new stuff vary. In the best of cases, these new sales are driven by new functionality -- a color printer instead of black-and-white, a notebook computer instead of a desktop, a DVD instead of a VCR. At other times, the upgrade is driven by bloat as new MIPS-burning applications and operating systems make our old stuff too painfully slow. This doesn't happen by accident, folks. And into this performance abyss we throw not just new products but new TYPES of products, because industrial dynasties come from defining new market niches. Hewlett-Packard, for all its glorious history, is more than anything else a laser printer company. Cisco Systems, for all its desire to be something more, is a router company. These are niches they defined and that have led to decades of success.

And that brings us to the tablet computer, a tightly-defined product still in search of success.

Tablet computers have been around in various forms for years. Back in the early 1990s, we called it Pen Computing, and VCs lost a lot of money trying to get us to exchange our keyboard for a touchscreen and a stylus. The product success that emerged from that experiment was something both more and less than what was expected -- the Palm Pilot and later Windows CE. We didn't replace our desktops and notebooks with pen computers, but we added a new type of little computer to our lives. It was that perfect technical play -- the chance to replace a seven dollar, little black book with a $399 PDA.

A couple years ago, pen computers re-emerged as tablets with a larger form factor, supposedly expanded functionality and definitely expanded pricing. Microsoft made a special version of Windows just for tablet PCs, and most of the big hardware OEMs churned out tablet designs. But we haven't been buying them. In a U.S. market that supports sales of 50+ million PCs and notebooks per year, total tablet PC sales from all manufacturers this year will be less than 100,000 units. The screens are bigger and brighter, the applications smarter and the handwriting recognition better, but tablet computers are still looking for their killer app.

Apple Computer has been decidedly absent from the tablet game. In part, this has to do with the failure of the Newton, which will always be associated in the mind of Steve Jobs with his former friend and nemesis John Sculley. "Real computers have keyboards," Steve has said a zillion times, and he'll mean it right up to the moment he changes his mind.

That moment appears to be coming soon.

Quanta, the Taiwanese company that makes many Apple notebooks, has been apparently switching its production to the new tablets, or at least that has been reported in the Taipei press since early this year. If this is the case that Apple is introducing such a machine as early as January, how is it likely to be different from the Windows-based tablet machines that have so far failed to excite buyers? And why, in the face of such lackluster sales, has Microsoft done another rev of its tablet operating system? What is it about this product niche that makes it so attractive to vendors despite more than a decade of failure?

The simple fact is that until next year, the parts won't have been there to make tablet PCs successful. What's missing has been the killer app, and what kept a killer app from appearing was a lack of hardware support, which I believe will be over soon.

For Apple, doing a tablet really isn't much of a gamble. Macs still dominate the graphic design market despite Adobe's recent switching of allegiances to the Windows camp. The graphics market, which already absorbs a lot of Wacom tablets for drawing on Macs and PCs, can easily support Apple-sized volumes of high-end tablet computers. Give artists a big tablet screen to draw on, add wireless networking and good battery life, then throw this all on top of a powerful and easy-to-use OS, and Apple can be assured of at least breaking-even. They will become must-have gizmos in graphics departments everywhere. It's Apple's BMW strategy all over again, and virtually guarantees at least modest success.

But Steve Jobs would prefer something more than just modest success. He wants to define a new product niche or, in this case, finally give practical definition to a niche that already exists, kinda-sorta.

The tablet PC killer app for the mass market is functioning as a digital hub, a general concept both Apple and Microsoft have been pushing for a couple years. It's the idea that your computer ought to control your TV and your stereo and your VCR. The only problem has been that there isn't a good way to link these things all together, and even if we do, that digital hub isn't anywhere near your TV, at least not yet.

This little problem of the TV being in this room and the PC in that room was supposed to be handled by home networking, except that just doesn't work very well. When Bob Kahn, Vint Cerf, and God were inventing TCP/IP, they didn't put much thought into how their technology might handle HDTV streams. In practical terms, you might be able to use 802.11g to carry such a stream. But it wouldn't do so very well, and just one stream would take nearly all the available bandwidth. This would put a real hitch in your daughter's web surfing and totally annoy the guy in the next apartment, who'd like to have a little channel space for HIS video stream, too, thanks.

This is the reason why networking companies like Linksys and D-Link are pushing adapters they say can send audio and photos from your PC to your TV, but not video.

What's needed is a networking technology optimized for video transport. One has been in the works for sometime, and down at the IEEE, they call it 802.15.3, and this is where I believe Apple sees opportunity.

If your idea of having a life is following IEEE standards development, you know that 802.15.3 looks to be the first Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) networking technology used by folks who aren't spies and secret agents. You also know that the 802.15.3 committee is at something of an impasse with two technical approaches vying for approval. Most of the committee is in favor of an approach called Multiband OFDM, invented primarily by Texas Instruments and supported by Intel, Microsoft, and most of the big Japanese and European consumer electronics companies. The other approach, called DS-CDMA, comes primarily from a company called xTremeSpectrum, and is supported by all the Japanese consumer electronics companies that don't already support multiband OFDM. And since XtremeSpectrum was just bought by Motorola, DS-CDMA has just enough oomph behind it to keep Multiband OFDM from getting the 75 percent majority vote required to become a standard.

Understand that 802.15.3 is a high data rate Personal Area Network with a range of about 10 meters. This isn't a WiFi competitor. Think of it as a kind of Super Bluetooth, capable of sending video over short distances without interference and with true quality of service, which 802.11 can't provide. Conventional wisdom says a deal will shortly be worked out in the IEEE, Multiband OFDM will become the standard and we'll see products appear in late 2004 or early 2005.

But sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong, and I believe that is the case here.

For all the momentum behind Multiband OFDM, the only 802.15.3 silicon available so far is from xTremeSpectrum, and Motorola has pledged to start shipping products using those chips by January. No, they won't be 802.15.3 compliant, but they'll work and they'll be a year ahead of anything else. Think back to when there were several proposed 56 kbps modem standards and products were shipping all over that weren't V.90 compliant. So while meeting the 802.15.3 standard is nice, it isn't absolutely required to achieve commercial success.

Besides, Multiband OFDM as it is currently proposed doesn't really work.

The problem with Multiband OFDM is its very high Peak to Average Power Ratio. The FCC put great constraints on UWB to keep it from interfering with any other radio service and as it stands right now Multiband OFDM violates FCC rules for distortion and interference if operated at the power levels allowed by those rules. Absent some clever workarounds (several of which are in the works), the only way to make Multiband OFDM be truly FCC complaint is by reducing the power, called OFDM Backoff. This also cuts range to the point where your video and stereo components might be able to talk to each other in an equipment rack, but they might not be able to reach the tablet PC on your coffee table. And they sure as heck won't reach your PC in the next room.

A year from now, I am sure these technical problems will be solved, but by then Motorola will have been shipping DS-CDMA products for 12 months. And some of those products will be going in that Apple tablet computer. Watch TV in your bathroom, access your audio and video collection from anywhere in the house, control your big screen TV and route video to it from your desktop or the Internet. Take a dozen movies and your entire music collection with you on a trip. Strap the gizmo to the back of your car headrest and entertain the kids. Grab e-mail from a passing WiFi hotspot. Surf the web. Play video games. It will still cost too much, but a million early adopters won't care.

And a year later, when Multiband OFDM gets its act together, Microsoft will claim to have invented it all.

Site is.... (1)

miguelfp1 (657082) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605177)

Down.ElementComputers product site is now officially slashdotted.

Keep adding hard stuff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605181)

Linux is often more difficult for the average user to figure out. Tablets are often more difficult for the average user to figure out. If we put them together, we can't loose!

Microsoft 0wnz me! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605185)

Man. This fucking pisses me off. I was at home, and the last thing I did was check my email (hotmail, yes I know). Everything was fine. Three hours later, I'm back at college, and check my email again. Microsoft changed the whole fucking layout/interface of Hotmail! On the one hand, it looks much more XP-like. On the other hand, I was so used to the other interface that I could check my email blind! Now, I have to relearn it all over again. It wouldn't be so bad if they only changed the graphics, but they changed location and depth of menu items! Fucking bastards.


Slashdot Countdown (-1, Offtopic)

Snoopy77 (229731) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605193)

The site will be slashdotted in 10, 9, 8, ... ooops already gone.

What's the use? / Creating a Market (3, Insightful)

Azghoul (25786) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605194)

This is going to seem like your average flaming /. question (hmm, that didn't quite come out right), but I'm genuinely curious as to the problem that the tablet PC solves. What's it good for?

I honestly don't see the use in it, and instead I really see another try by engines of industry to create demand for a product noone really needs...

Hopefully someone can explain it to me, and this isn't just me turning 30...

Re:What's the use? / Creating a Market (1)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605326)

I'm genuinely curious as to the problem that the tablet PC solves. What's it good for?

Tablets have approximately the same form factor as laptops, and fill the same niche.
Tablets have an advantage in drawing, and other "pen based" input operations,
but a disadvantage in writing and other "keyboard based" input operations.

Personally, I'd much rather have a laptop with a touch screen that could fold over completely,
or a tablet with a keyboard that attached to the fold-over cover.

-- this is not a .sig

I want a sub-$1000 tablet. (1)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605207)

What I don't want is a sub-10000-users-at-a-time RDBMS.

User 'elementc_ms2' has exceeded the 'max_question (-1, Redundant)

cluge (114877) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605211)

From The site

1226 - User 'elementc_ms2' has exceeded the 'max_questions' resource (current value: 10000)

select value from sessions where sesskey = 'e7a0f201f2c33ff902cb8802ff8771af' and expiry > '1070329551'


It looks like slashdot strikes again.

Mirror's anyone?

Parts just do not add up (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605216)

The article talks about the "killer app" for the tablet being home theater (basically). Then it goes to add that the hardware to make that possible - UWB wireless - is just coming out in January.

To me though none of these pieces add up. I can possibly see HD video feeds between components and even PC's being of some use - but to a tablet? HD resolution is going to be wasted on a tablet screen (at least at current DPI for LCD's).

Then once the video gets to the table - what then? A really large glorified remote control? Why would Apple have any interest in that?

In the article he even mentioned the quote from Jobs that I agree with 100% - computers need keyboards. I have zero desire to see a tablet from Apple, partly because I feel it would be a drain on them but also partly because I just can't see how such a device fits into anyones world other than sketch artists. I beta tested some kind of tablet PC long ago, and the device worked OK - but I was hard pressed to find good reasons to own one, and now I have a laptop which I find much handier.

Would an Apple tablet be cool? Possibly, but not in the same way the iPod or OSX is cool... report (3, Informative)

mrklin (608689) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605240)

"A small PC maker and a Linux distributor have teamed up to offer a tablet-style PC for $999, hundreds of dollars less than similar devices running Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition software.

The Helium 2100, from Staten Island, N.Y.-based manufacturer Element Computer, is a convertible PC with a sliding screen that can be positioned for use as a traditional notebook PC or folded down for use as a touch-screen tablet device. "

Source: efd_top

some whois info (4, Funny)

olddoc (152678) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605244)

Administrative Contact:
Hjorleifsson, Mike"
OK, lets look here:
They are a bunch of Linux consultants. Isn't slashdotted yet!

I heard of a company like that (2, Funny)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605269)

I heard of a company that made decent hardware, but Linux only. I think their name was VA something or other. Ever heard of them?

Questions about Lycoris (2, Interesting)

Kleedrac2 (257408) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605292)

I'm sorry if I sound like a dumbass, and I hope this isn't offtopic, but I've been wondering for a while now. What is Lycoris? They're registered as a distribution on and yet there is no download and as far as I've read in their own support they don't mention what liscense it's released under. Does this OS use the linux kernel, if so what liscense does it use? If it's LGPLed why is there no downloadable source/version? Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions or start a flame war on my behalf.


Re:Questions about Lycoris (3, Informative)

Down8 (223459) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605369)

They have a downloadable version. Source is available upon request, for a nominal shipping fee. Yes, this decision pissed off a lot of the Lycoris community. It is not dissimilar ot SuSE and Mandrake's policies of putting up their previous release for download, while limiting their current release to a "Live" status.


specs from web site (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7605325)

Helium 2100

Preconfigured Linux Tablet with Lycoris Desktop/LX

Key features

14.1-inch XGA (1024 x 768) Touch Panel active matrix display
Perfect 2-in-1 convertible design, Notebook and Tablet PC
Processor: 1 GHz VIA? Antaur
Stylus included
256MB Installed Memory: up to 1 GB of DDR266 200-pin DRAM via two sockets
30GB Installed Hard Drive: up to 80 GB
Keyboard: 85-key keyboard with Extended Function Keys
O/S: Powered by Desktop/LX Tablet Edition
Battery: up to 3 hours battery life
Wireless: internal 802.11b (11 MBps) (OPTIONAL)
2x USB 1.1/2.0;
1x type II PCMCIA/CardBus slot;
1x IrDA 1.1 FiR;
1x stereo headphone jack;
1x RJ11 for K56flex V90 modem;
1x RJ45 for 10/100 LAN;
1x external CRT port;
4-in-1 Flash Card Reader SD/MMC/MS/SM

Who put the "cringe" in Cringley (1)

jtkooch (553641) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605334)

Ugh, I'm very disapointed to see this guy's name on the front of /. The man is either an idiot, or a liar. I personally lean toward the latter. His articles constantly contain in accurate information, the highlight being his passive yagi antenna setup ( .html)

Here come the puns (2)

satyap (670137) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605365)

This is going to be a bitter pill to swallow, but the market needs strong medicine. The writing's on the wall. Let's not sugar-coat the truth.

Mac Tablet PC? (5, Insightful)

NtroP (649992) | more than 10 years ago | (#7605397)

You know, I can't remember how many times I've been away from my computer (in my house or at work) and wanted to just "pop in" and do a quick check on a running process, check for the latest /. story, browse CNNs page, check the TV or Movie guide for my area, read my email or some other, predominantly point-and-click, activity.

I think most manufacturers are having problems with table PCs because they are trying to make them keyboardless laptops. It will never happen. Why? I hate to write. So do many others and true handwriting technology is so processor intensive you can't currently pack it into a handheld. I'd rather type. I can type much faster that I can write and, well, you see where I'm going with this.

If I were going to deliver a "tablet" PC, I'd make one like this:

  • Thin, light, solid state - no moving parts and pretty much sealed.
  • Built-in wireless (802.11g?) and a (maybe some sort of universal) card-reader slot for SD cards, microdrives, memory sticks, etc.
  • Low power processor and graphics cards - c'mon kids, we aren't playing Doom on this thing.
  • An inductive charger or some sort of "usefull" (as in - it's a slideshow pictureframe while idle/recharging) charging cradle
Basically, it would simply be a touch-sensitive dumb terminal for a "central server" or master machine on my desk or in my closet. I'd want to be able to "VNC" to my desktop or open one of several "published" X-window apps with a finger tap. Give me a browser, email client (could be a browser), basic word processing (all running off my central server) and perhaps a small collection of rdp and terminal service clients - perhaps also running off my desktop. With a simple GUI to configure a connection to one (or more?) parent hosts and little or no built-in brains, this could be made dirt cheap (all the processing is handled by the server) - you are paying mostly for the touchscreen - which doesn't have to be very big. I'd pay a couple hundred bucks a piece or so to have one sitting on my coffee table or in my bedroom.

Remember, this isn't supposed to be a PC in it's own right. It's supposed to be an extension of my main PC. 90% of what I want to do with a "tablet" is monitor something or do a quick browse without having to run into the other room. If you try to make it be a computer in-and-of-itself, it will be prohibitively expensive, heavy, hot and large.

If I could take my Palm(tm), add low-power, built-in wireless networking, stretch the screen to about 10"x6" and add an Xwindows/VNC client, I'd be getting pretty close to having what I, personally, want in a tablet.

Just my opinion, but this comes from many time when I've caught myself wishing I could just have my monitor follow me from room to room.

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