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Subject: iPad and Tablets... just aren't good enough yet! rss

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Neil Carr
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Ever since I've been a child and I watched Lumpy pull out his portable video player gizmo on the Star Wars Holiday Special and watched Boba Fett mess with his father and Han as a cartoon I desperately wanted one. Quickly though I discovered such things did not exist, however I also learned that technology was getting better and eventually we'd have them.

Well, it look a long time... we have them now, but everything still crawls out at a tepid pace. Well, I'm sure people will stress the amazing progression we're currently in, but my impatience continues unabated.

The revealing of the iPad is another one of these moments that's aggravating my geeky obsession. I'm very enthused of its existence because it's taking a form factor that ought to be ubiquitous at this point and shoving it into the mainstream marketplace where hopefully it will thrive.

Still, after reading this article, what I find maddening is that no one is coming out with the most obvious form factor needed, being able to display an 8.5"x 11" sheet of paper to scale.

The thing is, we've had basically had the equivalent of a tablet pc technology for a very long time now, it's called the clipboard. It allows several documents to be easily accessible in a mobile format. You can write on it, and there are slightly thicker ones that allow a compartment to be opened for filing. Overall the size is pretty standard, about 12.5" in length and 9" wide.

Unfortunately, so much of the form factor seems to be driven by watching 16:9 movies, or reading softcover novels that it is screwing up the dimensions needed to function with paper, which despite the promise of a paperless society, still has yet to happen.

The iPad might help move us closer to a paperless society, but that is still a long ways off. What is really needed is a digital "analog" of the paper format, and then finally rework the medium to best fit digital use.

I had high hopes for the Plastic Logic Que reader, however when they finally revealed its specs I was dissapointed to find out that the 8.5" x 11" screen was in fact the size of the whole device. Instead it has an 10.5" diagonal screen.

After that disappointment, I did hear about the Skiff which will be coming out this year. It's screen is bigger, having an 11.5" diagonal area to view. Better, though there are few details about it at the moment.

I grab a piece of paper and started working out what that really meant. Unfortunately it isn't enough to get things to true scale for documents. If you shave off the standard margins of a sheet of paper then you need at least an 11.2" diagonal screen. To get the full sheet of paper displayed at scale means a 13.88" diagonal screen.

So really the magic number I'm waiting to hear is 14" e-reader/table screen. I'll be able to open up a word or pdf document and have a complete sheet of paper, with all of those glorious blank margins being simulated digitally for me.

It could be asked, "why on earth do you want margins in a digital document?" and all I can say is just look at how we use paper. We don't have text run right up to the edge of paper. Margins help the reader focus, framing the text with negative space so that it is easier to read. They also are vital to notes and commentary. Ultimately, it's about getting to a point where we have digital paper that can be used and interacted with, and not just having passive consumption of content.

Currently I own a Gateway tablet notebook pc. It has a 14.25" diagonal screen. It's a great machine, works well and I have no problem viewing docs and pdfs on it. The problem is it is heavy and really hot running. I can't lay in bed, on the couch or even sit in the bathroom with this thing. It's got too much horsepower to be used a a reader.

So I'm left to impatiently twiddle my thumbs waiting for technology to catch up with my imagination and desires. I know all of this stuff is coming, but it can't come fast enough for me.

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Paul DeStefano
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echoota wrote:
the most obvious form factor needed, being able to display an 8.5"x 11" sheet of paper to scale.


What makes this obvious?

Why not A4?
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Neil Carr
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Geosphere wrote:
What makes this obvious?

Why not A4?


Because America is home of the brave and land of the free!
 
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But, with email and webpages and the like, how important is 8.5x11 these days? It's really only important if you're going to print stuff out, which is cross-purpose to your point of this new device making the world paperless.

I still think the most important thing missing is the input device. There hasn't been too much said about the bigger size but same as the iPhone touch keyboard, but I'm going to guess that it will be marginally better than the iPhone at best. Possibly worse, since because of the size you can't hold and type with the thumbs but will have to sit the thing down on your lap or a table.

I think they need to fall back on the handwriting recognition that the Palm had, or ideally something better that would let you write whole words or sentences at a time instead of letter by letter on the palm.
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Neil Carr
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But yes... I'd happily take A4 size since it is even bigger than 8.5x11.
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