Apple did a great job pioneering wireless devices with the Airport and the 802.11b wireless standard. They did it again with a rapid move to the much faster 802.11g Airport Extreme, and recently Airport Express which lets iTunes users broadcast their playlists to a TV or stereo system.
Word on the street says Apple is readying a wireless tablet device slightly smaller than an iBook. Many observers say say the device is mostly screen yet comes with Mac OS X, perhaps faster than 802.11g wireless, and can stream video and audio to a TV or stereo.
The portable videoPod is, based on reports to date, remarkably similar to a device launched by Sony over three years ago in Japan; the Sony Airboard.
Could Sony be the manufacturer of a new wireless video pod tablet for Apple?
Mac news and rumor web sites have pointed to patent and trademark filings as proof that Apple is working on a wireless tablet device. Of course, Apple works on many devices that never see the light of day.
MacNewsWorld filed This Article which indicates sources and a description of Apple’s latest “secret” wireless tablet device.
The Sony AirBoard, shown here, may be the inspiration for Jobs and design chief Jonathan Ive. Sony stopped using cool names for electronic devices with the Walkman 25 years ago.
The Sony tablet offering is called the Airboard LF-X1. It’s 802.11a/b/g, and comes with built in email and web browsing. The Airboard attaches to a base station to recharge. The base station receives cable TV, external TV antenna, a satellite tuner, or any other audio and video input device.
The screen is touchscreen; fingers or stylus, and measures 800×600 pixels. The battery, of course, is Lithium-ion and Sony estimates battery life at up to three hours of continuous use, sufficient for viewing DVDs and pre-recorded movies.
How will the Apple wireless tablet video pod compare to the Sony Airboard?
First, expect full compatiblity with iTunes, Airport Express, and iChat. The Apple Store and most retailers are out of the original iSight video camera which works so well with iChat. What’s coming? A dual purpose camera that works on your Mac, which could also attach to the wireless tablet video pod.
Is all this mere speculation? The evidence is mounting. IBM is having difficulty shipping G5 chips for both the aluminum PowerMacs and the soon-to-be-released new generation iMac, now delayed until September.
The Sony device, obviously an early adopter product, has some flaws. The size and design are considered klunky and cumbersome. The operating system and applications, true to form, are proprietary to Sony. Expect an Apple device to be a mirror of Mac OS X, perhaps with a 60 gigabyte Toshiba hard disk built in.
Also expect full synchronization with a desktop Mac’s Home directory, something previewed by Apple in pre-Panther releases of Mac OS X, but that didn’t make the cut for release.
The Sony device is actually large, more luggable than portable, and certainly not “pod-like.” Sony often demos products here in Honolulu and we’ve had the pleasure of seeing both the Airboard (nearly three years ago) and the new Sony Walkman (just months ago) in pre-production form.
While the Airboard elicited some response, the Walkman was met with yawns and disappointment.
Mac OS X has a built-in handwriting recognition application called Inkwell. Few Mac users have ever seen it since it works only with tablet devices, like drawing tablets. Inkwell is mature and ready-made for an Apple wireless tablet video pod.
Who would build such a device for Apple? Manufacturers in Taiwan have been given the recent deals with Airport Express, iPod mini, and other Apple products. Sony, however, has manufactured for Apple before. The very first PowerBooks were manufactured by Sony.
We’re in the dog days of summer. Chip shortages are hampering delivery of new Apple products. G5 chips won’t be portable for a year, if not longer.
When would be the best time to release such a device? Not the end of summer, but the beginning of the school year and well before the holiday shopping season begins in earnest this fall.
You’ll hear more about an Apple-branded wireless tablet video pod. Soon.
Click Here for the latest spin on other views of Apple’s wireless tablet “keyboardless” device.
To get more details about Sony’s Airboard, Click Here. As always, your Comments are welcome. Click the link below to share your thoughts, perspective, and news with other readers. To send us Feedback, Click Here.
Of course, Apple never comments on rumors (mostly) and haven’t said a word about Sony or the Airboard. Interestingly, Apple did announce a deal with Motorola to provide iTunes’ Playlists in future Motorola cell phones. Click Here for more details.
Finally, Sony recently announced their “iPod killer” in the Sony Walkman, 25 years after launching the portable music revolution (remember ‘cassette tapes”?). Click Here for an indepth review which compares the new gen iPod and the not-quite-ready-for-primetime iPod killer, the Sony Walkman NW-HD1 (catchy name, huh?).