Link to Large version of Table
The chart above for the Apple Tablet, is NOT based on the mythical “unnamed source whom has always been right in the past” but rather is based on looking at available components and what has already been done with the iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 3rd Gen. The following paragraphs go over each line in the chart and the reasoning for the specs shown. For those not familiar with my background – I spent 16 years in the electronics component industry as a Design Engineer, Engineering Manager, Product Manager, and VP of Sales and Marketing. One of the companies I worked for was a supplier to Apple as well as Motorola and Nokia.
Display: There has been a lot of rumors and speculation on the size of the display for the Tablet. Conventional wisdom / rumors have settled in on either “between 10 to 11 inches” (10.1” or 10.6”) or 7 inches (7.1”). Given in the past how conventional wisdom like this has proven to miss the mark almost every time – I am going in between the two sizes and that means the standard LCD size of 8.9 inches. I will take it one step further and say it is a TFT display not OLED – this due to cost considerations.
Screen Resolution: Assuming that Apple really wants to make the Tablet a world class video play back device – that means HD, which means 720p. The Toshiba LTD089EXWS fits the bill nicely with 1280 x 768 resolution making for 720p playback. No I don’t see them offering the 1080p resolution – I think price and power consumption issues will make the LTD089EXWS or another LCD with similar specs the best trade off.
Size: The Size of the display is going to be the biggest contributor to the size of the unit. If we go with the same amount of area above and below the screen per the iPod touch and just a little more size on the edge for ease of holding we come up with 256.4 x 137.3 mm for L x W. We will also assume that Steve dictated the Tablet be less than half an inch in thickness – so the 12.3 mm (0.48”) dimension of the 3GS makes sense for the tablet as well. The larger the volumetric area in the Tablet the more room for the custom battery.
Weight: This is simply taking the ratio of L x W of the 3GS and the speculated dimension of the Tablet and then applying that to the weight of the 3GS to come up with the weight of the Tablet. This works out to be 662 Grams or 1 pound and 7.3 ounces, which just so happens to come in under a believable 1 1/2 pound Steve requirement.
Battery: One component that 100% will not be off the shelf is the battery. Apple likes to maximize battery size by creating custom batteries that fit in all the empty space. Based on the size difference between the 3GS and the Tablet it is easy to see how they could get to the 5,700 mAh size. You can forget about the battery being removable – just look to the Mac Book, Mac Book Air, Mac Book Pro, 3GS and iPod Touch for a “hint” on what Apple thinks about removable batteries these days. Actually the 5,700 mAh is conservatively low. If they go with more of an iPhone 2G type case design they could easily fit in a 7,100 mAh battery.
Video Playback: 12 hours may actually be conservatively low on this. When you consider that the 13” Mac Book Pro has a battery size of 5450 mAh, which is smaller than the 5,700 mAh projected for the Tablet. Granted it also only offers 7 hours of life – but it has a lot larger LCD and more power hungry processor than would be needed for the tablet. But a 12 hour playback for Video / constant use – seems to be a nice marketing point and could be one of the initial design goals.
Storage: I only see them offering one version of the Tablet to start and that would be the 64 GB version. I put in an asterisk for this as once the new Toshiba 64 GB NAND modules are ready for full production in Late Q1 2010 – then Apple could switch to a 128 GB version. Again staying with just one offering. But right now with an either Feb or March launch of the Tablet – it does not look good for a 128 GB version. Most likely that would be in the June / July time frame. Now given Apples use and influence when it comes to NAND it is very possible Toshiba’s announcement of production availability is for everyone other than Apple and for Apple they are already in production mode – in which case the Tablet will be at 128 GB of storage goodness.
SD Slot: This one I bet Apple went back and forth on. I could see Steve rejecting this idea multiple times before coming to the reluctant agreement that people will use the Tablet different than a Touch or iPhone. It will be in many cases their primary computer and being able to import directly in your photos and movies – is a big plus for the end user. So at the end of the day I think a brave product manager will have won out and convinced Steve to add the SD slot. But not before two or three other “brave” product managers were fired for pushing their points.
Bluetooth Keyboard Support: Probably one of the last things added into the firmware / OS would be support for a Bluetooth keyboard. Going under the assumption there is an SD slot, this would show that Apple sees the Tablet as more of a netbook competitor than an iPod Touch replacement. Given that you can already use a Bluetooth keyboard with a jailbroken App for the 3GS and Touch – it is not a technical issue – this is a marketing / Steve issue. Of all the items on the list, this is the one I have the least confidence in.
OS: This time I am going with conventional wisdom and saying that the Tablet OS will be an enhanced version of the iPhone OS. This will allow for compatibility of iPhone apps, plus offer some special features for the larger screen of the Tablet. I do not see the Tablet running Mac OS X as I think the devices sweet spot is email, web surfing and rich media playback – you know all the things the iPhone OS does so well. Not Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Garageband – you know all the things the OS X does so well.
Price: I know many are calling / hoping for a $500 to $700 device. I just don’t see that working economically for Apple. The $799 price is the lowest I could get to considering the price points currently for an unsubsidized 3GS and the added cost of the larger LCD with the better resolution. Anything less than $799 and the Bluetooth Keyboard support and SD slot go away. As then the device would be too full featured and could / would eat into sales of the Mac Book and Mac Book Pro.
Yes these predictions are a little different than those put forth by “unnamed sources” and analyst de jour. But the issue with the oft-quoted analysts that just have a degree in finance is they don’t know the difference between Ohms Law and Megan’s Law and that often shows in their predictions. That all said it will be fun to compare the chart above with the actual specs once the Apple Tablet is released.