From the Editor's Desk: My "dream tablet" design was on the market ten years ago!

Cigarettes
By Kevin Michaluk on 28 May 2012 02:44 pm EDT
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Be sure to read the full article to see some fun photos from other things I found buried in my office

Apologies on my delay in getting up this week's From the Editor's Desk. I did spend my weekend at the office, but instead of writing I was cleaning it. I've been living and/or working out of the same home office setup for 12 years. I'm one of those people who's quick to buy things and slow to get rid of them. Suffice to say I have a few more weekends of cleanup ahead of me. But that's ok. Going through over a decade worth of stuff is actually pretty fun. It's a trip down memory lane. Finding old photos, books, magazines, clothes and of course, gadgets.

On the subject of old gadgets, tucked down in the bottom of an old box I discovered my long-forgotten first tablet computer - a Compaq TC1000. I bought this sucker back in 2002. I couldn't find the power cord to boot it up, but looking at this decade old design I couldn't help but think about how brilliant it actually is. Ten years later, I'd *love* to see a modern day tablet mimic this design. Check out the video above. The TC1000 actually combined both a keyboard and stylus/stylus holder into its design, in a slick folding / spinning setup. When I used to take it out in public back in the day, people would always stop and ask what the heck it was. Even today there's something futuristic about its design. Instead of a tablet with a keyboard/case accessory and a separate stylus (which can easily get lost), this put it all into one clean package. Check out the video above. Hmm... maybe we're onto something here for RIM's next generation PlayBook.

The new generation of tablet has mainly followed the iPad's flat slate lead, but we've seen many accessories become available to turn these flat slate tablets into more of a productivity device accepting additional methods of input than just a finger.

We've seen the Asus Transformer become one of the best selling Android tablets to date, thanks to its keyboard attachment that makes it into more of a lowcost laptop. And we've seen with CrackBerry fans that the BlackBerry Mini Keyboard case has become literally the most popular PlayBook accessory. In the iOS camp we've seen a ton of third party iPad keyboards and docks hit the market that also add a keyboard to the iPad (check out this review Rene Ritchie did for the new Ultra Thin iPad keyboard from Logitech, which is actually pretty slick). Obviously there is consumer demand for this kind of device.

I actually get sort of annoyed with some of these fold closed keyboard accessory designs that make tablets into a laptop of sorts. I can't help but think "just get a laptop already." But with a design like the TC1000, you actually have a device with a really distinct identity. It's actually more than a tablet or laptop. You can use it like a modern day tablet with the peripherals hidden and nobody is the wiser. Keep the keyboard sandwiched away and protected. Leave the stylus tucked away and hidden and in a place where you won't lose it (I love using a stylus, but I've lost a few already). Then when you want to bust out into full productive mode, the keyboard and stylus are right there, in a seamlessly integrated design (and there's no need to mess with bluetooth on this one - you could probably pack some extra battery juice for the tablet into the portion of the device that has the keyboard too). 

I don't know.. maybe I'm crazy being so in love with this form factor of tablet, but I can't help but feel like there's something there. I wouldn't be surprised to see some Windows 8 tablets take to this design, but there's something here that feels like it could be BlackBerry-like too. With BlackBerry 10 being a "mobile computing" platform, we'll need to see at somepoint RIM put out some BlackBerry 10 devices that go beyond what they're doing today. A device like this could be a great flagship product down the road. To me it really does scream MOBILE COMPUTING. Yay or nay? Let me know in the comments what you think.

Other Fun Things Found While Cleaning My Office This Weekend...


I found a newspaper from 1961 in the basement... man have times changed...
I couldn't help but laugh at this.
"A Welcome Solution to the Xmas Gift Problem... CIGARETTES!"

 

Winnipeg Jets Stickers
I found a half dozen "original" Winnipeg Jets stickers tucked away in a filing cabinet. Awesome.
Go Jets Go!

 

Kevin and Arnold
I found my picture of me and Arnold from when I went to the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio

 

Lifetime Achievement Award
I found my Lifetime Achievement Award plaque in a drawer...
I was a bit of an over-achiever in Business School and kicked butt in Business Plan Competitions.
Kind of odd to receive when you're 24 years old, but awesome (it came with a nice check!).

 

PlasiaTEK
Found with plaque... a copy of the U of M's 2003 annual report.
Above is from the inside cover (front cover here).

 

Doh!
And you thought me buying a $500 clock app or
doing the Sexy and You Know it Workout video was crazy?
Back in university days my summer business was renting out Jet Skis.
One day I got dared to get my arms/chest waxxed so I'd look sexy at the beach.
I did it. I found the photo this weekend with the evidence. IT HURT. Never did that again.

OK. That's it for this week. It's a pretty quiet Memorial Day Monday so I'm going to keep cleaning my office up. Who knows what else I'll find to post on next week. :)

Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: My "dream tablet" design was on the market ten years ago!

37 Comments

Compaq TC1000 still got it, I use it to watch some series while I lay in my bathtub :) and yes, a supertablet!

can you please turn down the volume on your crackberry.com video intro?! or at least normalize them?
Cripes, it *always* blasts from my speakers, then the actual video is so quiet...

any chance you can share some of those winnipeg jets decals? its a tad hard to find anything locally here in Guelph (20 mins away from RIM!) without shopping online! a big jets fan would appreciate it!

I'll gladly take one of those 90's Jets logo stickers as well :) Love that NHL hockey has returned to Winnipeg.

A good Memorial Day laugh. Thanks Kevin and have a great holiday. :)

Also, would love to take that off your hands.

Well, I don't know what magical operating system you were running on that thing, but on Windows it took ages to boot, monks with quill pens were faster than its version of Word, and the battery lasted until you tried to do something that, you know, actually needed the hard drive and cpu to turn on for a moment. The screen had a nasty feel to it. Put it alongside a Playbook and the PB looks like something, not from 9 years in the future, but from a different civilisation altogether. In my own far from humble opinion, the iPaqs too were hideous and the only consumer products HP has ever produced that really looked right were the last two Palms, the Pre 2 and 3, that were designed by people from outside HP. I still wish that the Torch 9810 looked like the Pre 3 and had the inductive charger.

Kevin I LOVED the TC1000!

but it was well outside my Price range as a 2rd year Engineering student.
The form factor as you say was Brilliant, I would LOVE for RIM to innovate "rip off" and make a tablet exactly as you said, screen being screen being 9" x 11.5" ( so you can have icons beside the 8.5" x 11" full sheet of paper.
touch based gestures, that keyboard mounting design is brilliant, and a built in stylus

make the whole thing weigh in at 3lbs and price it in the $900-$1200 range pending storage options and it would be a Enterprise/student hit

shawnmobile

Wow Kevin, great minds think alike, I'm about to buy the mini keyboard and I was thinking that someone should make a rugged case for the playbook and keyboard together that can swivel and transform like the company you've shown!

Cool stickers the Jets (I mean Coyotes) just went to the Western Confrence finals!! LoL, lucky thing the NHL owns the coyotes or it might be the Winnipeg Thrashers or something else!! For the record went to the Coyotes vs Jets game here in phoenix this past season the new Logo is Cool!!

Awesome post lol at the waxing! Ouch! Yes, woman take alot of pain.

Cool gadget...does it still work? Glad the prices are better now lol

Anyway don't wait another 10 years to clean your office lol

As far as form factor meets modernity, I am on a Fujitsu Lifebook running Windows 7 and loving it. As a teacher with a modern tablet, I constantly break out the stylus for grading emailed assignments from writing assignments to PowerPoint projects. Battery life is amazing, by the way. You might want to check it out. Oh, and I love my Playbook and 9850, but I can't wait for BB10.

I had one of these. It was terrible: slow, glitchy, you couldn't type especially fast because the keyboard was poor and the handwriting recognition dragged, the on-screen keyboard wasn't much better and some of the fiddlier plastic bits tended to snap off.

The docking station was cool, though.

I always like the form factor of the HTC Shift. 7"s with a slide out keyboard. XDA just ported Windows 8 pre release to run on it. I would love to see a PlayBook with a slide out keyboard like that. With a BB keyboard and scroll wheel it could be amazing.

When I read the article, my first thought was "you just described every Tablet PC on the market" - until I saw the video and saw that the keyboard was smaller than the display.

As for stylus holders, the one on my HP EliteBook 2730p is awesome! It clicks into place, and then when you press in to release it, it slowly (and smoothly) pops out enough to grab it. You don't know how many times I've sat there, tablet in hand, and just kept inserting/ejecting the stylus! (what's that about simple things amusing simple minds?) :)

Looks a lot like my Gigabyte T1000 touchscreen laptop with the swivel screen, or my daughter's eePC touchscreen convertible, both still working fine, both with built-in stylus holders. Both have 6 hour batteries, but the Gigabyte weighs 3 times or more what the Playbook does (the eePC is lighter). Mind you, I don't have the PlayBook keyboard...

Lenovo / IBM have been building convertible laptop tablets like the TC1000 for at least 10 years, maybe longer and still are. So just buy one of those.

These are full blown Windows machines. So simply adding a keyboard to a Playbook is not the same thing. Because as much as I LOVE my playbook, it, along with other tablets in it`s class, are consumption devises, not computers.

While HP still makes a "convertible" (basically a laptop with a touch screen that lays flat), they no longer make a "slate" (with a removable keyboard).

I had a TC1100 (a TC1000 with improved specifications), and it was the best computer I have ever owned. The form factor was especially handy in a cramped airplane seat.

Unfortunately, the iPads, Android Tablets, and Playbooks don't work for me. I like the slate form factor, but I need the power of a full Windows PC. I am anxiously optimistic that Windows 8 will bring more slate form-factors.

Hey Kevin - about your comment about people getting the mini keyboards with the cases for the tablets and getting a laptop instead - does that mean you aren't in love with the BB mini keyboard for the Playbook?

I had the Fujitsu tablet back in the tablet hybrid days. It was amazing.

Sorry if I took the comment about the keyboard out of context; its just I know how amped up you were about it back in Nov (?) when you had the sneak peak and recently when it offically got annoucned.

The form factor on that tablet is fantastic. You can criticize it as a mini-laptop, but I think that's exactly what blackberry needs to do. QWERTY keyboard on a tablet.

I still have my TC1000! loved it and always got a reaction when i did a flick, flip and spin manoeuvre!

will ship you a power brick for it if you ship me a BlackBerry Porsche Design P'9981!!!!!!!!!!

8310->8320->9000->9700->9800->9700->9900 (OS 7.1.0.190)

Had a Compaq TC 1100, best Tablet I ever used. refused to upgrade to a Lenovo till the last screw fell off the hinge...