Most companies can't pay enough money to get the world to notice the debut of a new product. Apple, on the other hand, locks down every shred of information about whatever is about to emerge from Cupertino -- and the tech world (and plenty of non-tech folks) go wild with speculation. It works every time! What an amazing phenomenon.
Like everyone else, I've been reading all the breathless guesswork about what the rumored Apple 'iSlate' might be. Naturally, I'm going to jump in the fray. I have no idea what Apple is actually going to announce, but I know what I want. Here's the list:
[ Paul Venezia is not an Apple fanboy. He's a networking guy. Seriously. Check out his Networking Deep Dive Report. ]
1. At least the core specs of a MacBook Air
For the device I'm thinking of, a dual-core 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo would be OK. Of course, a Core i7 would be better. Add in a 128GB SSD and we're golden. Except it needs at least 4GB RAM. Oh, and an 8-hour battery.
2. Built-in wireless WAN, 802.11n, wired Ethernet (either embedded or via USB)
I don't want to have to drag around 3G dongles, but I do want to be able to leverage at least 100Mbps wired connections for certain tasks. Having used a MacBook Air extensively for a few years now, I've found that I don't mind the USB Ethernet adapter and rarely use it. However, I definitely want to be able to use a 3G or 4G network without plugging anything in.
3. At least a 10-inch display (multitouch, natch)
It's a tablet, right? It's supposed to be the logical extension of the multitouch trackpads found in all Apple laptops, but on the screen. It needs to be fully usable with your fingers as well as with a stylus for drawing and writing.
4. Amazing writing recognition, but no physical keyboard
I don't want a physical keyboard on the device. I want to be able to naturally write anywhere on the screen where you could otherwise type and be done with it. I'd also like a virtual keyboard of some flavor, although on a 10-inch screen that could be an issue. It definitely needs to support Bluetooth keyboards and mice.
5. A docking station
It's basically a MacBook Air with a touchscreen, so let's allow it to expand a bit. You might remember the Mac Duo from years ago that was a fully docking Mac laptop; that capability should be in this device, too. I should be able to plug in a 24-inch LCD and use a USB keyboard and mouse like it was an iMac. Docking and undocking should be seamless and instantaneous.
6. Mac OS X
Many of the rumors swirling around claim that the new Apple device will run the iPhone OS. I really hope not. I'd prefer a full-blown Mac OS X Snow Leopard install with an iPhone-style overlay for times that you want to interact easily and quickly with a finger, much like an iPhone -- basically the best of both worlds.
7. Full iPhone app compatibility
In that overlay, I want to be able to run every iPhone app natively and obviously support apps that make use of the greater capabilities of my magical mystery device.
8. A phone
It should have standard GSM and/or CDMA phone capabilities with a built-in speaker and microphone as well as Bluetooth headset support. Barring this, it should directly integrate with an iPhone via Bluetooth to support the same.
9. Two integrated cameras and a pico projector
I want a minimum 5-megapixel camera on the back and a minimum 1.2-megapixel camera on the front for video chats, much like every MacBook already has. This one's a no-brainer. The pico projector might be less so, but I still want it.
10. Dual-duty function
If connected to another Mac via USB or Bluetooth, it functions as a digitizer with the added benefit of being able to display palettes on the screen for design apps, or mixing consoles and faders for video and audio editing.
11. Less than 0.5 inches thick, and weighing less than 2 pounds
Yeah, this is a long shot, but hey, it's my magic tablet, so I'm pushing the envelope.
12. I want it for $1,000 or less
This is a tough one, especially with the CPU and RAM requirements (at least in 2010), but it's definitely doable within a few years.
All this is pie in the sky for the moment, but it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility over the next few years. The hardest part will probably be the battery, since battery technology simply isn't keeping up with the mobile devices everyone's cranking out. But indeed, if something like this dream machine existed, I'd be a happy and productive guy. I'd never carry anything else around, that's for sure.
So what did I miss? What do you want in a tablet?