Well now that Motorola has caused such a buzz with its eminently dockable smartphone, the Atrix 4G, more tablet players are leaking their dockable plans to the gadgetari. Case in point, Engadget’s coverage of the upcoming HP/Palm Tablet. And if Engadget is right, the Palm Tablet will be most impressive in the directions and features it will put on offer. Here are some leading features:
1)dockable to a charging and connectable station; this is a programmable wireless charging dock thatcan transform the tablet into an alarm clock, digital photo frame, and GPS unit;
2)offers HP’s new Beat audio system;
3)offers a 1,024 x 768 pixel TFT LCD display in two form factors;
4)offers Cloud connection so that the State of the machine can be saved and restored any where the dockable HP tablet is being used;
5)a tap-to-share feature allowing passing documents between devices in an easy [but standardized?]way. Does this include phone to tablet connections for Palm devices?
6)a slew of webOS phone features like Flash-support, true multi-tasking, andf full multi-touch interface;
In short the Palm Tablet takes off from the technically strong Palm Pre and ads a number of dockable features. However, there is two different approaches that HP could take here. One is the continuous client proposal that uses the Cloud to store state so no matter what device you connect with to the cloud, users get a screen and app /program ready to go including layout just like when last used – its like a Cloud-based “sleep” or “nibernate” command. The second approach is to have a core screen tablet [with CPU, memory, flash disk on board such that the tablet can run anywhere]that can be detached and then re-dock anywhere a USB 3 or eSata port is available and then add any attached device for use with with the tablet.
The Cloud-based continuous client method is more software dependent since the Cloud program will a)have to be available; b)have the appropriately sturdy security handshake andc)be able to recognize and configure the last used state to potentially different devices. The core screen tablet approach is more hardware dependent but it also must a strong security handshake with the docks. However, one could use any dock for limited recharging and I/O to any keyboard, printer, added screen devices, etc attached to the dock. The security concerns arise when added CPU, memory and/or hard disk space are linked in. But note that having the Cloud available and configuring start-up time are not major concerns for the core screen tablet docking.
Finally, it is possible to offer both services with a dockable device – and in effect that is what the HP Palm/Tablet does to an extent with its recharging and multi-use docking station.But as we shall see in a review of Dockable Tablets : PC Tablets, there are some pretty strong devices using the core screen tablet approach. Of more concern is that both docking techniques have the tendency already among vendors to go highly proprietary – so the devices’ hardware and Cloud software connections are likely to be vendor dependent. So the major problem facing the IT industry, silos and islands of information, already is made worse by the emergence of mobile computing options . Look there are already at least four new and incompatible operating systems added to the basic core of Windows, Mac and Linux – Android, iOS4, Qnx and webOS which programmers have to code for. The potential payoff of truly mobile devices especially in health care, logistics and real-time operations is most attractive – but there is a bloody icmpatible software proliferation side to this dual edge mobile sword.