The Free Tablet

Written by larry on November 10th, 2013


Well, not quite free. But 59 bucks is close enough that I’m going to call it free. Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 59 dollars is less than one day’s wages… even if you’re working at minimum wage. And for that sum, you get a 1.2 ghz processor, 4 gig of memory, 800×480 color display, WiFi, two cameras (admittedly neither with great resolution), a microSD slot, and a “4-dimensional gravity sensor” (great for time travel?).

But it it a good idea? Well, maybe not. The Amazon reviews were pretty negative. But still, if you’re of limited means, want to get online, don’t want to do it at the library, and for some reason don’t want to find a nice used tablet on ebay, this would certainly do the trick. Free WiFi might not be quite ubiquitous, but its surely common enough that a gadget like this means that anyone who wants to own and use a tablet can get one.

There are also some other implications. For one thing, it kind of makes you wonder a bit about the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, which provides toy-like monochrome-screened laptops for third world children, with the units costing more than $200. If Kocaso can quietly produce their $59 laptop, why all the fanfare about OLPC, and all its political intrigue?

There’s also the perspective of this crotchety old geezer thinking back to his first computer. I won’t say exactly when that was, but I’ll drop the hint that the president in office was a former peanut farmer. That computer took up most of a desk, and was equipped with a 0.002 GHz processor and 0.000064 GB of RAM. And the screen resolution was, I think, 480×200. In monochrome. Green.

Progress is nice. The downside, of course, is that we expect so much more of our devices. Sure, I can check my bank balance while riding the train, but why can’t I look at images of my checks? Sure I can place a free video call from my cellphone to someone in Madrid, but why does the image have to be so jumpy? Etc.

The usual platitudes apply. I’m sure glad to be living now, I can’t wait to see what’s new in five years, and so forth. But I’m also wondering about the next great opportunity. You know, the one that will be completely obvious in a few years, but that I’m hopelessly missing right now.
Any ideas?


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