Praise to the Pads of the Past (UPDATED)

Posted on 03 April 2010, Last updated on 10 June 2018 by

Updated (18 Jan 2010) with the Intel IPAD that I had never heard of until I read about it today. Shame on me!

I’ve been writing about ‘pads’ , tablets and other consumer and mobile internet devices for over 4 years now. Carrypad started through a desire for a new category of devices and under various names it focused on a sector that most people simply dismissed. ‘There’s no room for a device between a smartphone and a laptop’ they said; conveniently forgetting their digital camera, navigation device, book, gaming device and the growing need to surf while on the crapper.

Today, the iPad landed and has turned the tech-media world from nay-sayers to yay-sayers. Everyone loves the iPad and the coverage has sky-rocketed. Unfortunately, it’s not really happening here because I’m in Europe and sales haven’t started here yet. Can you imagine how frustrating it is for me?

Being English though I’m biting my lip and trying to positive and focusing on the iPad coverage that starts here on Monday when Ben, our Senior Editor, gets his iPad out in Honolulu. It’s a shame that there’s no Saturday delivery service but we’ll let the Engadgets of this world deal with the Day 1 craziness and take some time to read the first reports over the weekend.

pepperpad1 Another slightly frustrating  element of iPad day one is thinking back on all the iPad-like devices that tried so hard to get it right before so while we’re waiting for the iPad, I think we should raise a few of the Pads of the Past up onto the pedestal and say ‘thank you.’

My first hat-tip goes out to Pepperpad who in 2005 produced a 9 inch touchscreen device running on an ARM core and running a heavily tailored finger-friendly user-interface. The specifications list and focal point of the device sounds like a true winner but Pepper Computer were simply too early.  The initial price was high, the performance was terrible and the battery life wasn’t that thrilling. Personally I loved the device (I bought a PepperPad 3, the 7 inch version) although it wasn’t exactly pretty! Unfortunately Pepper went under before they could realize their ideas with better technology.

My second shout-out in the consumer internet device category goes to Nokia who took a big risk and released the 770 Internet tablet in late 2005. It was aimed at people wanting media, a good web browser and was the first in a range of four devices that used a community-supported Linux build called Maemo. Maemo is now an important part of a long-term strategy for Intel and Nokia in their MeeGo product and is for me the most interesting ecosystems for building consumer internet devices.

The third and final shout goes to Archos who for many years have been combining media playback with Internet connectivity in an easy-to-use consumer-focused package. I still have (and use) my 605Wifi and it taught me that while the 605 was very slow to access web pages, I had more patience for slow websites when I was sitting in a comfy chair. Archos are now at the stage where they have a family of consumer internet devices from 5 inch to 9 inch and are planning to launch even more this summer.

Update: All the devices above date back to 2005 when I was starting to get very interested in the idea of a companion device but there are plenty of devices that pre-date these. The Intel IPAD, for example, is the most amazing story. Intel used ARM CPUs (they has an ARM license and Xscale, ARM architecture CPUs) in a product that, internally, was called the IPAD. It allowed you to surf ‘up to 150 feet’ from your PC. It almost reached the market but got stopped by another initiative in Intel. Read the story of the Intel IPAD here.

So to everyone that was part of Origami, the ultra mobile PC world, all the Tablet PC fans and bloggers and the thousands and thousand of people that have discussed the idea of mobile and handheld computing with me over the years – I raise my glass.

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