Anticipation is building for what will likely be the announcement on January 26 of Apple’s new iSlate tablet, which may be available in the second quarter of 2010. Described as a “Kindle Killer”, the iSlate may be the device to help magazines and books negotiate the digital switchover. The Kindle has very limited formatting capability, so it is great for reading a regular book yet far less appealing for the magazine-length and interactive-web articles which dominate modern reading.
Apple has a history of creating compelling mainstream products out of niche devices – the MP3 player took off with the iPod and iTunes while the iPhone and its later App Store revolutionized smartphones. Speculation runs wild about the type of interface they will debut with the iSlate.
Here’s an interesting tablet magazine concept video from Sports Illustrated:
Is this a preview of how magazines and newspapers might migrate paid value-added content to the iSlate and similar devices? I love my iPhone and my Kindle, but the iPhone’s tiny screen is difficult for me, especially with my worsening presbyopia. And while I like how the Kindle’s E Ink screen causes less eyestrain, I do miss having a color touchscreen with video capability. I’ve caught myself swiping my fingers across the screens of the Kindle and my netbook, to no avail. And increasingly I find myself debating whether to rely on the iPhone or the Kindle for reading articles while out and about.
So I’ll definitely be watching and analyzing Steve Jobs’ presentation next month with avid interest, and saving my dimes for the next must-have technology gadget. I was amazed by the iPod when I bought my first one back in 2004. Having all of my music at my fingertips was liberating, although I would later switch to lower-capacity but solid-state iPod Nanos for music, podcasts, and audiobooks. The Apple TV brought all of that, plus rented movies and television shows, into the living room and also continues to improve.
The iPhone was another revolution, making the internet portable and greatly improving my travel experience. And the iSlate certainly won’t replace the iPhone for car travel, while my iPhone will replace my dedicated GPS unit. I first used a Garmin Quest and later the V7 NAV740 GPS units, and they were wonders. But the other day I bought TomTom’s iPhone GPS navigation application while it was on sale for $50. Its maps aren’t as good as those on my dedicated V7 unit, but the iPhone app’s lane guidance feature is a boon and its interface is far easier to navigate. Since I already have my iPhone sitting in an air vent mount when I’m driving, I’m reluctant to also muck about with the suction-cup holder and cord for the V7 unit.
Here’s hoping the iSlate is another game changer!