I can’t go anywhere without seeing an advertisement for the latest and greatest tablet offering. I tried counting the tablets that are available today, but I stopped because it was mind numbing and I started to drool. Are you having a hard time weeding your way through all the “unique” tablets on the market?
If you’re spending time on this site, then you’re probably focused on using a tablet for business purposes—or perhaps in a school setting. Luckily, few tablet models are truly designed for the education or work environment, which means your options dramatically decrease. I suggest creating a list of ways you’ll use your tablet and then ask yourself these four questions:
- What’s your primary use case for the tablet?
- Will you be managing your tablet or will your IT department?
- Does it matter who can access your data?
- Will you need to create work on your tablet or will you just need to view the work that you completed on your PC?
As a mobile professional, you might require the touch-screen feature, but realize there are some limitations to the slate tablet. The tools and legacy applications you use in your office were developed to run on a Microsoft operating system, not on Android or iOS. Vendors have made some improvements, like Android’s new Ice Cream Sandwich, to make it easier to access productivity apps. However, it won’t be until the Windows 8 launch in the fall that we’ll see a tablet that can be fully operational for businesses. It could turn the entire tablet world on its head…spinning. It’s going to be very exciting to see if Win8 will be a game changer and for Microsoft’s sake, I hope so.
Slate tablets aren’t your only hope of cumbersome-free computing. Many people overlook another tablet option—a niche form factor—the convertible tablet. This is a fully functional notebook PC that turns into a tablet by rotating the display and laying flat on the keyboard. I know that wasn’t a groundbreaking statement, because convertible tablets been around for several years. However, this form factor has taken a back seat since the launch of the slate tablet, and with the consumerization of the PC industry it could be disappearing.
End users are demanding thinner and lighter devices, and technology companies are listening. This is a good thing because consumerization is breeding innovation and bringing style to the business-class PC market. However, it can become a double-edged sword, because as end users demand PCs and tablets based on their look or image, everyday functionality can be sacrificed. Suddenly it can be a challenge to find functionalities such as full docking, the ability to connect easily to a monitor or projector (without a dongle), a full suite of ports and, please, don’t forget ease of typing. Have you ever tried writing extensively on a tablet? Sure, you can connect a tablet to a peripheral keyboard, but do you want to?
A few companies offer a true business class convertible tablet. Lenovo offers the ThinkPad X220T, HP offers the 2760p and Panasonic has the Toughbook C1. These systems were designed for the health care industry and for mobile professionals who require power and durability. The real difference between convertible tablets and all other tablet offerings is that they run all Microsoft applications. The primary comparative downside of these systems is their weight. But if durability and reliability are your main concerns, then the beefy exteriors shouldn’t be a bother. More importantly the beefy interiors should get the spotlight. These are tough tablets with the robust power of a laptop. Couple that with the Windows 8 OS, and you have yourself a true productivity tool.
The fact of the matter is that although slate tablets are cool and growing in popularity, they may not be able to provide you with the tools you need to do your job. Take a convertible tablet for a test drive and see if it might make sense.
If you’ve worked on a convertible tablet, let us know what you think.
This "Quick Tips" guide lists critical purchasing considerations for business tablets. Discover how to reduce security risks, simplify set-up and configuration, and improve collaboration. By choosing an enterprise-ready tablet and weighing your options carefully, you can excite and engage employees, while giving your IT department the peace of mind they need.