We've had the opportunity to review a few tablet / netbook combinations here at HotHardware (the Eee PC T91 from Asus immediately comes to mind), but in the 10+ years of covering computing technology, there has yet to be a tablet as polarizing, alluring, and promising as iPad. And after all of these years, who would've thought that it would be Apple leading the tablet charge of 2010? Early last decade, somewhere around 2003 or 2004, there was a huge push for tablet PCs to make it big. That's a long time ago, for sure, but we recall it feeling a little bit like the netbook push of 2008. Companies were hailing their tablets as "all new machines," with new form factors that would "redefine" the way we used a computer. We were told that our keyboard and mouse were no longer necessary, and so long as we had a free hand, we had a means to enjoy a full-fledged computing experience.
But those tablets were, putting it simply, way ahead of their time. Most were very bulky (some nearly 2" thick), screens were generally low-res, battery life was abysmal and Windows XP simply was not optimized for touch. It felt like manufacturers were shoving an operating system that was designed from the ground-up to be used with a mouse and keyboard into a device with neither, and then they all wondered why no one wanted to pay more for the things than the average notebook. Users simply saw no real benefit in using a tablet over a laptop, and they definitely didn't see the need in paying more for less convenience. For years, the tablet PC lived on primarily in two places: hospitals and in the wild. Panasonic kept a Toughbook Tablet or two alive for years since it was such a great machine in the field, and obviously medical charting works very well on a tablet-styled device. But consumers? Most simply ignored them and moved on.
Apple iPad Review: The Tablet Revolution Begins