Brighthand Bytes

May 6 2010   8:02AM GMT

Why We Won’t See a Windows-based Tablet Comparable to the iPad

Ed Hardy Ed Hardy Profile: Ed Hardy

Many people are asking for something they mistaken think is easy: a tablet computer running the full version of Microsoft Windows that’s comparable to the iPad.

This isn’t very realistic. The reason the iPad runs the iPhone OS and not Mac OS X is because Apple couldn’t make a device the size and price of the iPad with a 10-hour battery life running a desktop operating system. The same holds true of Windows.

Here’s the thumb-rule I use:

  • Power, size, battery life, price — Pick any three.

With the iPad, Apple picked size, battery life, and price, but to get these it had to sacrifice power. That’s why this affordable computer runs a stripped-down OS designed for a smartphone, not a desktop.

Think about another Apple product that took a different tack. With the MacBook Air, Apple choose power, and size, and tried to compromise on battery life and price. So it’s a small, powerful computer that costs three times what the iPad does and has less than half the battery life.

What Do You Want in Your Windows Tablet?
Many people are hoping HP is still working on a slate-shaped computer with Windows 7, but there are reports that this may have been canceled because the company is running into problems with the thumb-rule I gave earlier.

If HP makes an affordable device the size of the iPad running the full version of Windows on a good processor, it’s going to have to sacrifice battery life. With this operating system’s need for a fast processor and no room for a large battery, I estimate such a model would run less than two hours on a single charge.

Based on the early reports I’ve read about this tablet, HP is trying to balance power and battery life. It is going to put in a relatively slow processor in hopes of increasing the time the device can run on a single charge. problem is, this is going to decrease the performance.

I could perhaps see a company making an iPad-like model with Windows, decent performance, and a reasonable battery life, but this device would have the same drawback as the MacBook Air: my guess is such a computer would also cost close to $2000 because it would require some cutting-edge technology.

Other iPad Competitors
Even if HP doesn’t release its Windows-based tablet, there are plenty of iPad-like models in the offing. The ones that have the best odds make the same set of trade-offs that Apple did: sacrificing power to get a low price, good portability, and long battery life.

I’m referring to the collection of tablets running Google’s Android OS that are scheduled for release later this year. Dell is making the best known of these, but HP, MSI, and Google itself are also supposedly hard at work on their own models.

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