OK, you could probably make the case that we don’t need tablets right now, with smartphones, netbooks and other laptops filling most of our computing needs. But there’s no mistaking that the Apple iPad is selling like hotcakes, and virtually every PC maker is preparing to launch its own tablet soon.
But in a few years flexible display technology could make standalone tablets obsolete. Imagine being able to grab a 3 inch or smaller phone from your pocket to make a call — and then pull out a 5 inch display when you need to view a calendar, check your email, or surf the web.
Deigner Hank Chen has drafted some images of a concept device he calls the Flex Display phone, which has a 5 inch sliding screen that you can tuck away behind the keyboard. You could use the screen for a GPS display in a vehicle, or a space for viewing web pages, videosor what have you in phone or laptop mode.
You can find more concept images at The Design Blog.
I can certainly imagine technology making a device like this possible within the next few years. But I have to wonder whether PC and phone makers will want to develop a single device that can replace a phone, notebook, and tablet. I suppose they could always charge ridiculously high prices for these all-in-one portables.