Rear Facing Tablet Cameras…….Why?

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This past weekend, I was checking out all of the information coming in for the Motorola XOOM.  There was a ton of stories scattered throughout the tech world, as anyone can imagine.  The results were fairly consistent, and basically saying that the hardware is solid and the software still is in a slight beta form.  Typical Google I guess.  Of course there were several pieces in these articles comparing it to the current competition, which is just the iPad.  Sure the Galaxy Tab could be thrown in there, but until Google officially supports the phone software running on the 7″ screen, I feel it isn’t in the same ballpark (even though that is the iPad).

After thumbing through these articles, I come across one from Lance Ulanoff on PCMag.   It basically gives a little rundown on the future iPad, and how it’s really all he’s waiting for.  I agree the next iPad will be something to watch, but he makes, in my opinion, one of the silliest statements about iPad2 that I have heard echoed across the tech world since the original iPad….”I cannot tell you how many times I wished my iPad had cameras on the front and back. Of course I’d be happy to hold it up and film with it.”  This bothers me.

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Now we all love having new features on new toys.  That’s why we buy new toys.  That 1Ghz Snapdragon processor phone we loved 6 months ago, well now they have dual cores, need a new one.  Don’t worry about the fact we won’t see any difference in the real world use going from single core to dual core….it’s out and I want it!

Companies have been doing this since the beginning of time.  There are plenty of upgrades that actually do improve products, which is a great thing.  There are also plenty of updates that do not, or are simply “refresher features.”  Apple does an excellent job at holding off of adding a feature until the following year so they can convince their loyal following to come back to get the new one.  iPhone 3G to 3Gs  is a good example.   With the new iPad coming in the next month or so, the speculation is insane.  What will they add?  A retina+ display with 660ppi?  The thinnest tablet yet, shaving off a full 1mm from the original?  A floating iPad you don’t have to hold anymore?  Or, a rear facing camera?

The rear facing camera talk is starting to tick me off.  Who in their right mind will really hold a flat, 1.5lb paper thin tablet in their stretched out arms to capture an image of….well anything?  Maybe their kids playing while sitting on the couch?  Yeah, I’m sure between the lightning quick shutter on the iPad, and the kids always listening to Mom and Dad that those pics will turn out wonderfully.  Oh wait, I could be at Starbucks and see something cool happening.  Let me pull out a 10″ tablet and snap an image of a bunny bouncing across the street.  That will look great.  Wait a second, let me zoom in, place the iPad on my lap so I can use my other hand, tap zoom, hold back up, too far zoomed, bring back to lap, zoom out, the bunny moved! Back to reading that article on NBT.

The point is, and this goes for anyone reading this at home, or blogging about it on the web, there isn’t a tablet out there that should have a rear facing camera.  I understand the front facing for video chat.  That front facing camera will get a ton of action the first week, until you realize nobody wants to see your ugly mug all the time, that images taken from beneath people’s faces (proper tablet postion, and phone) make you look fat, and that we have had this tech for years (ever heard of Skype?) and it still isn’t a mainstream option.  No, it’s simply that a rear facing camera on a tablet is idiotic.  And it’s way different than having a camera phone.

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With a camera on your phone, you still have good self control.  The phone ways a couple of ounces, it’s pocketable and can be held out like a normal camera, because it weighs and feels more like a normal camera.  Your arms wont be shaking when holding it in front of you, so you can manage to capture a halfway decent picture, and sometimes a really good one.

Bottom line, we won’t use the feature.  We won’t like the quality of the images.  We won’t enjoy holding it stretched out in front of us, especially when many out there already say they can’t hold it up for long periods of time, and default to their lap.  It will be one more feature we all pay for, and don’t use.  We will grab our smartphones or our real cameras to take pictures of our family and friends because we actually want to preserve our memories, and not risk losing them with a silly 1.5lb tablet that wasn’t meant to take pictures in the first place.  Until my tablet can take those pictures up top, I don’t want that rear camera.

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Allen Schmidt

Allen is a former contributing editor at Nothing But Tablets, which was merged with Pocketables in 2012.

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