iSlate: Will it be a MacBook replacement for travellers?

Posted on by Mike Evans

Over the holiday I sold my mid-2007 iMac 24 as currently surplus to requirements. The MacOldie stable now consists of a late-2008 2.8GHz 15in MacBook Pro and a venerable first-generation Air with the (now tiny) 64GB drive. I'm in the market for a 13in MacBook Pro, which is the computer I would have bought instead of the 15in had it been available at the time. In a way the 15in model, excellent though it is, was a mistake for me because I do so much travelling. Most of the time I take the Air, rather than the bulky 15in laptop.

So currently the 15in MBP, hooked up to a 24in cinema display, is performing desktop duties at MacOldie Towers. The plan is to replace it with an i7 iMac during the course of this year. Despite some looming trips abroad, I haven't handed over cash for a 13in MBP because I usually like to wait until January to see if there are any upgrades to be made to the specification. The Apple media event on January 27, though rumoured to be devoted to the iSlate, could well include a few MacBook Pro titbits. 

The iSlate intrigues me (along with the rest of the Apple community) and I am wondering whether it will be a replacement for a laptop such as the Air or the 13in MacBook. All commentators seem to be agreed that the operating system will be based on that of the iPhone rather than being a scaled-down OS X. But the slate, presumably with 64GB or 128GB of SSD memory and a faster processor, will be capable of handling more than the iPhone was ever intended to do. I cannot imagine that a straight port of the iPhone OS, with its ban on multi-tasking, would create the right environment for real success. 

No, I expect more from the iSlate. It will be very interesting to see just what popular OS X applications can be transferred to a 10.6in tablet. Will we see versions of iWork or iLife? Presumably we will see more fully featured versions of iCal and Address Book. Safari, too, will offer a whole different experience to the iPhone version. 

Provided I can edit my iWork documents, mainly Numbers, and have better control over the basic apps, I can see the iSlate fulfilling most of my portable computing needs. The multi-media capabilities and ebook reader enhancements are just icing on the cake. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I won't need to buy a MacBook Pro and that the iSlate will be my ideal travel companion. 

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