“All of us use laptops and smartphones now. And the question has arisen lately: Is there room for a device in the middle?….We’ve pondered this question as well….If there’s going to be a third category of device, it must be better at browsing the Web, video, photos, music, etc. Some folks say this device is a netbook….Problem is, the netbook isn’t good at any of these things.”
With these words, Steve Jobs introduced the first iPad in 2010, a move that, in effect, brought back the same configuration that Microsoft had attempted to produce a decade previously. One could go on and on about whether the iPad created a new category of devices, but one fact is clear: as a result of tablet computers, all computers have changed their appearance beyond recognition – new configurations, rotating computers, detachable computers, computers with touch screens, and so on.
On the one hand, the line between smartphones and tablets has become blurred. Smartphones have grown to 5 or 6 inches, and in February this year Asus crossed the line and announced the FonePad, the cellular tablet.
On the other hand, however, in the space between desktop and tablet computers, a reorganization has recently taken place as well, with All-in-One (AiO) computers getting a taste of touch screens, quickly leading to the creation of super-tablets – computers with a particularly large touch screen, that carry with them new opportunities for a different computing experience. Examples include offerings from Sony, Lenovo, Asus and HP.
Apart from the fact that these are Windows 8 computers (or Android, in the case of the Asus) that also serve as a large tablets, it seems that this configuration may again have the ability to bring families together, to sit and play together, a capability that till now had been the reserve of the old board games, once sold in boxes but now gathering dust on a shelf somewhere, or of game consoles (but note that the Xbox One was only recently announced).
Computer manufacturers have been quick to integrate games such as Monopoly, musical instruments, racing games, and so on into their large tablet computers. Lenovo went one step further, adding accessories, such as digital dice, or joysticks that can be placed on the screen, to the computer. The idea is to recreate the classical social interaction that used to occur around board games, but in a 21st century touch-screen format, and to once again bring together people whose heads have – for some time – been bent over their own, private, smartphones.
This format creates new opportunities, for new ideas and for uses that have not yet been implemented on home computers or tablets.
Here too it appears that Microsoft was able to accurately predict the future, when six years ago they already demonstrated the Surface table (intended for use in places of public entertainment) – which is actually a giant touch-sensitive screen, and which already serves, in spite of its high price, as a point of interaction, entertainment and information.