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July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Coffee Talk: They Seem to be All The Rage These Days

Welcome to Geekadelphia’s weekly discussion column, Cofffee Talk, where we talk about the finer topics concerning video games, technology and all the other things you can’t talk about with your slightly-less-geeky friends. Have questions or suggestions? Send an email to geekadelphia@gmail.com or tweet with us. Follow me on Twitter if you’d like to keep this week’s discussion alive.

In case your home lost all access to the internet this week and your dog trashed your smart phone (and the sudden loss of communication put you into a hermit-like depression) , Apple unveiled their brand spankin’ new iPad this week. The internets have been in an uproar about it and its’ almost guaranteed you’ve heard mention of it in your local hang-outs. Comments have run the gamut from calling it the messiah of media consumption and advertising to nothing more than a big old iPod Touch (because it clearly can’t make phone calls, but that’s not the point).

Regardless of whether Mr. Jobs’ newest creation will revolutionize portable computing, the iPad is not the first of its kind. There have been tablet PC releases in the past, but none of which caught on. However, Apple’s new song and dance has rekindled the flames of corporate rivalry and will be accompanied by some competition. Alright, a lot of competition.

With not only the the surge of netbooks on the market but ones that can handle some serious gaming, is there really a place for the tablet device? More on that after the break.

The ExoPC Slate: it runs on Windows 7 and is set for release in March. Neato!

Looking at some advantages of the tablet, it’s extremely portable for starters. Able to slip in and out of your briefcase, messenger bag or even your purse is always a plus. The tablet is the perfect device for those who want the ultimate portable and lightweight computing solution. However, this does come at the price of somewhat less power in usually the inability to run multiple apps or programs at once.

Tablet’s normally come with 3G internet capability, which is great for those who just want to surf the web (just avoid Flash heavy sites on the iPad) while on the train, on the subway or waiting for their meal at a restaurant. While 3G is considerably slower (let’s just say I wouldn’t dare try playing Eliminate Pro on 3G) than WiFi, it’s fine for tasks like browsing your RSS feed or writing emails.

Alienware’s M11x netbook, set for a potential February release

With several manufacturers ranging from Asus to Dell releasing netbooks monthly that are continually more powerful than their predecessors (not to mention making them dirt cheap), what’s the need for a tablet device? Let’s take Alienware’s recently announced M11x, a netbook that can play some of today’s most GPU hungry games and display them at playable framerates. At $899, you’ll paying a bit more than what these tablets will cost on average, but will be getting a vastly more powerful (albeit heavier) machine. While these tablets will be able to play games and even offer multiplayer over WiFi (the iPhone and other smart phones already do), what’s the point of playing iPhone games when you can continue your adventures inAzeroth on the go?

All things considered, tablets seem to be a good solution for those who either have yet to get their mitts on a netbook or simply want to be connected everywhere they go (netbooks can kind of do this too, but it’ll cost you). Perhaps intense gaming and multitasking aren’t the voids that the tablet is trying to fill, but when today’s netbooks are getting closer to performing both of these tasks with no problem while remaining lightweight, one can’t help but question it.

Are you guys and gals already planning to get in line when the iPad launches? Perhaps you plan on sticking to your netbook or upgrading to one of these gaming capable machines. Do you think the tablet will squeeze just fine between the smartphone and netbook? Either way, tell us in the comments!

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