In the face of smartphones replacing media players and tablets replacing e-readers, it is easy to fall prey to the belief that people really just want one device but I think assuming this as a design center for experiences going forward would be a mistake. And I'd caution anyone who does to read Scott Hanselman's terrific roundup post covering his experiences with laptops, ultrabooks, convertibles, and tablets. He doesn't bury the lead and starts by concluding that the search for the One True Device is futile but the rest of the piece is equally worth reading if only because you'll get data on a bunch of gadgets whose reviews would keep you far away but whose intent point in interesting directions.
Among the conclusions he makes which I agree with: - every laptop is going to be touch - power management will likely force ARM down the throats of laptop makers - speed is not measured in gigahertz or number of cores but in "time to app" of at most 1 second (a killer for most desktop descendant OSes) - multi-tasking will have to come to tablets (I do like his "picture in picture" metaphor and would love to see this in iOS)
It's a good read.
Further debunking the "one device" world is my lack of excitement for Ubuntu phone's launch this past week. Five years ago I would have thought that a smartphone-sized computer which could change its personality to that of a full desktop experience when plugged into a mouse, display, and keyboard would be as close to the tricorder as I'd get in my lifetime. Now though I appreciate how useful having a completely different device alongside my other computing endpoints and don't for a second think this unique albatross stands a chance (though Android designers should be a little ashamed at how beautiful the plumage looks in the demo).
Finally, content & e-commerce subsidy models being what they are, it's just not feasible to look forward to this one device future— too many big companies have too much cash to piss away on the aggressive side of an LTV calculation and will continue giving us goodies at below costs in the hopes that we start crapping out cash for their disposable vending machines.
All of which is to say: I'm looking forward to CES this week!