Mobile // Mobile Business
News
5/24/2014
08:09 AM
Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey
Slideshows
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft Surface Pro 3: 10 Tablets Paved Its Way

About 40% of Americans own a tablet or e-reader, but that didn't happen overnight. These 10 devices shaped the evolution of the modern tablet.
Previous
1 of 11
Next


The Tablet's All Grown Up

It seems just yesterday we were flogging Microsoft for its slowpoke tablet strategy. Yet we're already on the third generation of its Surface Pro line. Time flies when you're trying to keep up with a cutthroat, rapidly changing technology industry -- or however that saying goes.

Tablet technology isn't all that new. You can trace its roots back for decades. No, it didn't start with the iPad, even if that's the device that has more or less made the tablet an ordinary household item, like, say, a coffeemaker. Both Apple and Microsoft had tablet initiatives underway long before the iPad or Surface line, even if the term "tablet" wasn't as ubiquitous as today. They weren't the only vendors involved, either.

The tablet is indeed ubiquitous: the Pew Research Foundation's October 2013 update to its tablet and e-reader tracking found 35% of Americans age 16 or older own a tablet. That figure increases to 43% if you include e-readers like Amazon's Kindle or Barnes & Noble's Nook. Those numbers certainly grew during 2013's holiday season. That's a lot of devices.

So how did we arrive here? There have been some whopping hits -- the iPad, course -- and some whopping flops (we'll get to those) and many attempts in between. We've also seen a ton of evolution in recent years. The iPad may have quickly established itself as the gold standard in the tablet boom, but now tablets are anything but "standard" -- even the iPad has a little sibling, the Mini. Screens get smaller and smaller; screens grow larger and larger. Specs grow ever more impressive. Devices like the Kindle Fire HDX offer incredible video quality at a sub-iPad price. We've got luxury prices and low-end prices. We've got so much to choose from we need new names and categories for the darn things: convertibles, slates, transformers, phablets (something about that particular term inspires me to hit the gym), and on down the list.

If there's a common denominator across the modern tablet landscape, it's choice. Picking a tablet is no longer a matter of the iPad versus the also-rans. There's a model and a price point to suit a wide spectrum of users. You've got some thinking to do.

Enter the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft went big here. A Surface Mini may still be in the offing and diversity's a good thing, but for its flagship model Microsoft placed a clear stake in the ground: laptop replacement. This isn't your grandma's tablet. In fact, tablet might not even be the right word for the Surface.

The Surface Pro 3's success is far from guaranteed. It's a laptop replacement in more ways than one: Starting at $799, its price is more laptop than tablet, particularly as a growing number of low-cost alternatives (albeit often with much skimpier specs) hit the market. There's also the simple fact that the Surface line was late to the party; Apple and Google's Android have been having almost all the fun and continue to enjoy prime seats at the table.

Still, as InformationWeek's Michael Endler wrote, the Surface Pro 3 "represents Microsoft's best attempt yet at Apple-like harmony between software and hardware." This is no ordinary device. It's bigger yet thinner, loaded with features, practically begging for a second look from tablet and laptop shoppers. It's in many ways an emblem of the "modern" tablet, right down to the fact that "tablet" might not even be the right word for it.

The early days of tablets are behind us. Let's look back at 10 other devices that helped pave the road to this point. Which ones did you love and hate? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Kevin Casey is a writer based in North Carolina who writes about technology for small and mid-size businesses. View Full Bio

Previous
1 of 11
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
EddieJ123
50%
50%
EddieJ123,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/28/2014 | 12:10:44 PM
Re: Writer 100% incorrect. Tablets came after.
I AM running Win 7 on my TC1100 as well...works great. I upgraded the hard drive and the memory. Overall, I'm quite pleased with these devices---they get daily use---I paid $50 for one, and $70 for the other from ebay; best bang for my buck I've ever gotten from a device. Period.

I'm a computer systems engineer, and the built-in wacom digitizers get heavy use. I basically use them as writing tablets...which my notes and diagrams get uploaded in real-time to my website. $120 bucks for 2 tablets is a steal.


http://eddiejackson.net

 

 
Shane M. O'Neill
50%
50%
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
5/28/2014 | 10:59:06 AM
Re: Twenty years late
The list could have gone back to the late '60s with the Dynabook prototype, but this is a brief history. The PalmPilot PDA is the perfect place to start because it was the first real success of its kind and a precursor to all the cell phones, smartphones and tablets that followed. It's remembered as the first tablet-like device with major mainstream appeal.
mak63
50%
50%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
5/28/2014 | 2:04:44 AM
Re: Writer 100% incorrect. Tablets came after.
@EddieJ123


I'm surprised that the TC1100 (or the TC1000) are not on the list. They're even called Tablet PCs! Probably I'm mistaken about this, but don't they even have the 3:2 aspect ratio like the new Surface 3?

Anyway, do you know that people are running Windows 7 on the TC1100?

 
SteffenP695
50%
50%
SteffenP695,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/27/2014 | 4:50:38 AM
Information technology and software
According to experts, the volume of digital information is expected to increase tenfold every five years. This explosive growth in machine-generated data is being driven by the steadily diminishing cost and steadily increasing power of computing and sensor technology, and by advances in miniaturization, wireless communication, data storage, decentralized intelligence, and algorithms.

http://www.usa.siemens.com/information-technology/
SachinEE
50%
50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2014 | 12:36:01 PM
Re: New Hybrid
@annon, I definitely want to check the (Windows 8.1 - Android O/S Hybrid) out. Personally I find android more user friendly than windows, windows is too official, it suits the office. Is nokia X a hybrid too? I wonder how it performs, I haven't bought one yet. Tablets are evolving but I see very little changes in OS, they I would operate an Samsung tablet it the same way I would operate htc, given they all use android OS. They are really easy to use.
PWHITE000
50%
50%
PWHITE000,
User Rank: Guru
5/26/2014 | 11:04:57 AM
Re: Twenty years late
I believe that's a good assessment that PDAs were tablet's predecessor. I never would have begun a list with the Palm Pilot, and at it's inception I saw it as an evolved PDA and nothing more.
PWHITE000
0%
100%
PWHITE000,
User Rank: Guru
5/26/2014 | 10:40:43 AM
Questionable list
Somewhat accurate list but by no means to be quoted or used to make a point. This list has included a few duds (tablets not accepted or sold well) and by doing so it has opened the door to other tablets which by all means were much more important to the lineage of tablet development than what was included. The Newton came before the Palm Pilot and when the Palm debuted, it got much comparison to the Newton, which was Palm-like in most major ways. The Windows CE devices were marketed from the late 90s and are still in devices sold in 2014, making it the longest running tablet OS ever! Also, there were several industrial tablets sold throughout the 90s which were used in hospitals, warehouses, and other business establishments which required an easy device to carry around and take notes, or fill out forms with. No, this list of '10 Tablets' shows the writer didn't thoroughly do his homework well, and placed importance where it's not due, and ommited what should have been included. It's a C+ paper at best.
marcusreinholtnsw
0%
100%
marcusreinholtnsw,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/25/2014 | 11:43:05 PM
New Windows 81 - Android O/S Hybrid
The world's first Windows 8.1 - Android O/S Hybrid tablet also launches this week with Ramos Technology partnering with Intel for the new Ramos i10 Pro ($399) that makes it easy to use Android Apps and Windows Software on the same device and features a 10" Full-HD screen, Intel Bay Trail processor plus 9 hours battery life.

More details on the Ramos i-Series is available through -- i  P r o T a b l e t
celticlandcom
100%
0%
celticlandcom,
User Rank: Strategist
5/25/2014 | 10:31:06 PM
Re: Twenty years late
The Newton was a tablet specially the 2000, The Casio's were tablets too, I could join a network and dial out to BBS and even had AOL clients....Via pcmcia modems and nics...They were the precursor to tablets. Something it a very small size compared to even devices today. So.... Yeah they should have been included tablets evolved from PDAs
melgross
0%
100%
melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
5/25/2014 | 12:05:43 PM
Re: Writer 100% incorrect. Tablets came after.
What? What world are you living in?
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - September 17, 2014
It doesn't matter whether your e-commerce D-Day is Black Friday, tax day, or some random Thursday when a post goes viral. Your websites need to be ready.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.