The Microsoft Surface tablet will find the bar set fairly low by previous Windows slates. Will Microsoft finally get it right this time?
Seeing all the attention (and unexpectedly lavish praise) heaped on Microsoft's just-announced Surface tablet reminds me of all the great Windows tablets I've tested and reviewed over the years.
Wait, that's not right. The vast majority of Windows-powered tablets I've tried have been terrible. Some hit minimum levels of functionality, but nearly all were underpowered, lacked touch-centred software, were too expensive or had terrible input hardware.
It's interesting to note that many of these examples date from the pre-iPad era. Once Apple's tablet hit the scene, there was a sharp drop-off in Windows tablets. Did PC makers decide they needed time to regroup and rethink after seeing what Apple could deliver?
One of the only high-profile Windows tablets announced post-iPad was the HP Windows 7 Slate. After a teaser campaign of YouTube videos and promotional photos, the actual product was essentially cancelled, but revived as the underwhelming HP Slate 500, a business-only tablet that didn't do much for us, and the webOS HP TouchPad, one of the most infamous tech flameouts in recent history.
Microsoft may fare better with the new Surface (perhaps it really is easier when you make both the software and the hardware), or it could just as easily go down as yet another Windows tablet that didn't live up to the hype.
In this gallery of Windows tablets, you'll see many of the touch-screen PCs we've tested, reviewed or reported on over the past several years. Why is this important? Because those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.