We may be on the verge of a tablet revolution, but you've probably heard that one before. Microsoft has been plugging away with its concept for slate computing since 2001.
Even the crew in ‘2001' can be seen using a tablet on their odyssey to Jupiter, and Stanley Kubrick made that film back in 1968.
The problem is that, with the exception of warehouse stocktakers, healthcare professionals and made-up astronauts, few people seem to have taken the bait for an electronic, keyboardless scribble pad.
There's always the halfway house of a tablet/laptop hybrid, such as the Fujitsu LifeBook T4410. This plays like a normal 12in-screen laptop until you rotate the display, fold it flat and use it as a touchscreen tablet.
Perhaps Apple's iPad will change the game, thanks to decent advertised battery life, a finger-friendly touchscreen and an intuitive interface. It also promises to be low-maintenance, with no faffing around with Registry cleaners and antivirus detritus. Backup should also be covered, as the device syncs all its settings and files any time you plug it into your PC.
What's the difference between these categories anyway? The original netbook concept has been corrupted so much that there's little to distinguish a small laptop from a large netbook. Early netbooks were quick-booting Linux PCs with no mechanical hard drives to break. Nowadays practically every netbook is just a pint-size Windows laptop, with all its vulnerabilities.
The dream portable
Whatever you call it, however, I'd contend that each person could make a checklist of features they want from a portable computer. Here's mine:
It must work for a day away from the mains. It should be light, and robust enough that I can carry it around fearlessly. It must have good wireless connectivity - maybe with reliable 3G. It must be powerful enough to get the job done without forcing me to wait. It must not induce paranoia about viruses. And it should be always ready for action within a couple of seconds.
My workhorse laptop ticks some of those boxes, but a man can still dream. Why not email us at [email protected] with your portable wish list?