Tablets: The Optional, Got-to-Have Device

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

The Role of Tablets in the Enterprise

Tablets may one day soon take their place alongside PCs and smartphones as standard-issue IT equipment.

Tablets are strange devices, both for consumers and enterprises. They offer a tremendous and exciting array of features and functionality. But, for all that sizzle, there is a challenge to the tablet industry: Many, if not most, potential customers already have a lot of electronic gadgetry - desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones and perhaps even a netbook or other piece of exotica - and don't actually need a tablet.

That has an interesting ramification. If a tablet is more of a discretionary or luxury device - if people use them because they want to, rather than they "need" to in the sense that a secretary needs a device offering an office productivity suite - it seems to follow that the core functionality will be more diverse. In other words, since all the baseline tasks are done by the other devices, there will be less uniformity in what people want in their tablets.

Layered on top of that is the fact that a new generation of tablets is emerging. The iPad - which still is king - is the pioneer. But, just as Babe Ruth at one point was several hundred home runs ahead of all others, he eventually was overtaken by Henry Aaron and (at least statistically) Barry Bonds. That's not to say that other tablets have passed the iPad, but real and substantial competition has emerged.


The landscape of Web-based help in finding the right tablet has at least three overlapping levels: Sites that describe what a tablet is and what to look for; sites that provide specs and links to a large number (if not all) tablets; and sites that actually rate and review tablets. All are valuable.

Here are some examples of information that is available:

  • Daily Wiki, in a piece that uses "creative" language but has great information nonetheless.
  • Tech Radar offers good views into what a tablet is and describes 10 things to think about, from the practical (what type of operating system and screen size does the device have?) to the conceptual (would the shopper be better off with a laptop?).
  • GCN starts out with five criteria for government workers to look for (security, ruggedness, ease of use, performance and value). It then assesses a long list of tablets.
  • PC Magazine offers the full monty, breaking down tablet choices by price, operating system and vendor.
  • GigaOM looks at the iPad, the BlackBerry PlayBook, the HP TouchPad and Google's Android tablets. Each is punctuated by a list of pros and cons.

 

The world of tablets is not going to get simpler. The best counsel may be to find sources - like those above and others - that can offer guidance on an ongoing basis.



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