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Business Reasons for a Tablet
One of the hottest technology trends we’re seeing lately is the acquisition of tablet computers by business users. But are tablets just a cool trend or are they an important business tool?
A tablet or touch tablet, as it was originally called in the industry, is a computer with a flat, touch sensitive screen. In fact, most of the navigation on a tablet computer is done with your finger or a handheld stylus. Apple’s iPad was not the first tablet, but it was advanced enough to get business users to look at it as a serious tool for salespersons and executives on the go. Apple has always had the “cool factor” nailed down, but even the iPad 2 is hardly a match for a business laptop when you’re looking for mobile business productivity.
The most significant disadvantage that a tablet computer has over a laptop, is it lacks a keyboard. While it’s true that many tablets will allow you to add a keyboard, consider that having to carry around a keyboard for use with the device defeats the purpose of having a tablet instead of more fully functional laptop. In an attempt to address this concern, Dell Computer introduced the Inspiration Duo last year. The Inspiron Duo is at the same time a tablet computer, and a laptop. The Duo’s screen folds up off the base and flips 180° to reveal a full size standard keyboard. It’s a very innovative and effective solution for those that would like some of the benefits of the tablet, but need to have the ability to type on a full-size keyboard as well. Unfortunately, the unit is about three times heavier than the iPad and for the most part lacks the instant on feature that a tablet user would expect. It also lacks a standard VGA output, so forget trying to use the unit as a lightweight laptop for bringing your PowerPoint presentation to a meeting, since it can’t connect to the projector.
So, what are the business uses for a tablet?
- A tablet computer instantly turns on and is ready for reading, internet surfing, or checking email as soon as you turn it on. It’s basically a computer that’s running all the time and the power button just wakes up the screen, revealing where you were when you last shut it off.
- A tablet computer is great for frequent references to e-mail, Internet browsing, music, and movies or video. For long sessions or composing complex documents, most users will be frustrated without a keyboard to type on.
- Tablets enable you to carry a massive amount of digital content (Books, newspapers, reference material)
- Lightweight is one of the most significant key advantages of a tablet versus even the lightest of notebook computers. Many of the best devices weigh about the same or less than a can of soda. The flat, high-resolution screen makes it easy to hold and see the device while working on it.
- Extremely long, all-day battery life is expected from the better tablet devices. Even the best laptop batteries under the most perfect conditions will not last the 8 to 12 hours of continuous heavy use that you can get from a tablet.
- Specialized high quality content is available for automatic delivery on a daily basis right to devices such as the Barnes & Noble Color Nook Tablet. You can download monthly magazines, business newspapers such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal all automatically so that when you turn on the device in the morning, the content is there for you. With the content in digital format, it becomes easily searchable which is great for referencing an article later on.
In my opinion and experience, the three best tablets on the market in order of value are the Nook Color Tablet (it’s a steal at $249), the Samsung Galaxy at $499+ the Apple iPad at $499+, and the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet (which is optimized for business with digital recognition of hand written notes, etc) at $449+. To summarize, a tablet computer can be very handy for casual e-mail correspondence and surfing the Internet but is probably not going to replace the need for fully functional business laptops anytime soon. Many executives that enjoy the benefits of the tablet that I outlined above, will still carry a laptop as I do, for handling more complex tasks while away from the office.
President & CEO
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