With Apple’s mythical tablet supposedly being unveiled next week and tons of companies trying to beat them to the punch: a lot of people are talking about the perfect tablet.  Here’s my take.

The perfect tablet needs to fill the -somewhat narrow- gap between smart phones and netbooks.  The iPhone has a 3.5″ 480×320 display and weighs under 5oz.  The typical netbook has a 10″ 1024×600 display and weighs under 3lbs. A tablet will compete with ereaders so those must be kept in mind as well.  The Kindle has a 6″ 600×800 display and it weighs 10oz.

So tablet should have a 7-9″ with at least 800×600 resolution up to either a 1024×800 or 1280×720 depending on aspect ratio.  It should weigh between one and two pounds with lighter being better except at the expense of battery life.  A 2lb tablet with 6 hours of battery life will out sell a 1lb device with just 2 hrs.  And battery life is key meaning that the hardware should either a snapdragon ARM or Nvidia’s tegra: both can power HD video at a smart phone level power draw.  The screen should be the Pixel Qi as it supports multi-touch and conserve power in e-ink mode.  Not to mention helping any tablet compete with the dedicated ereaders.  As for OS you have two choices really: windows 7 or Android.  Win 7 has the advantage of easy transition from PCs but may bring with that unrealistic expectations.  Droid has much promise but is still a tad high on the potential to actual software ratio.  Lastly, the perfect tablet should include the most commonly overlooked port in these devices: SD.  People bring netbooks on vacation for web or work sure – but also to view/backup digicam pics which is why an SD slot is crucial to utility.

So to summarize the “Perfect Tablet” with currently available hardware:

  • 8.9″ Pixel Qi 1024×600 multi-touch screen
  • Nvidia Tegra CPU/GPU
  • Wireless: b/g/n & BT
  • 60GB 1.8″ HD or SSD
  • 256MB RAM
  • Ports: Headphones, mini USB, SD
  • 256 x 134 x 17 mm
  • 800 grams
  • Android 2.1
  • 10 hr battery life

* dimensions taken from the Archos 9 tablet