Who would have thought that one of the coolest things we’ve seen at CES would be hidden in a 10×10 booth at the very back of the South Hall? Like a diamond in the rough, there sat the PQ Labs iTablet.
They’ve essentially taken the idea behind the Microsoft Surface and have done it better in every way. It’s cheaper, it’s gorgeous, and perhaps most notably, it’s not a hulking monster.
Two of the most notable features of the Surface are its multitouch capabilities and the availability of a development SDK, both of which PQ Labs has matched (or, in the case of the SDK, plan to match soon). The number of fingers detected by the multitouch sensor is limited only by the individual software designer’s desire – the hardware itself supports as many simultaneous prods as you can throw at it.
Contrary to its iCliche name, the iTable runs Windows XP rather than on OS X or some proprietary system. The last bit is good news for developers – if you’ve already got an app ready to go, you don’t need to rewrite it from scratch for compatibility. Just call in the proper APIs for mapping input, and you’re good to go. They’re pitching this pretty hard as a “big iPhone” (hence the name) – it’s probably not the best way to market it (as it’s not, you know, a cellphone), but it really does feel similar to the iPhone; the feel of the glass, the way multitouch behaves, it’s all very similar.
The iTable product comes in a variety of flavors, depending how complete of a system you’re looking for. The cheapest way to get in on the fun is the Multi-Touch G², a 32″ LCD overlay that goes for $2,399. Beyond that is where the “Table” part of the “iTable” name comes in – a few grand more (the $5000-$7000 was thrown around in conversation) nets you a table with the sensors incorporated into the display, and roughly $10,000 gets you the aforementioned table with a beast of a computer pre-configured ready to go. It may seem pricey, but with the 30″ surface going for $12,500, it’s relatively cheap.
The company is a recent startup, so they don’t quite have the resources to throw around that Microsoft does. As such, they operating without a warehouse, so these things are being built per order and they’re currently only selling units to businesses. You know, PQ Labs, CrunchGear is a business – hook it up!