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October 1, 2010

The tablet is not for taking if you’re a business user

Sexy and cool as tablets undoubtedly are, there are still many reasons for CIOs to be immune to the fashion for all things touch-screen and super-portable, says Gary Flood

By Cbr Rolling Blog

The past couple of weeks have seen the signalling of no less than three new iPad-a-like tablets either being confirmed for launch globally or their UK launch dates being confirmed. But sexy and cool as these things undoubtedly are, there are still many reasons for CIOs to be immune to the fashion for all things touch-screen and super-portable.

So we have Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Android tablet device, a 7 inch, 600 x 1024 touchscreen, 1GHz ARM-based CPU beauty with an on-board PowerVR SGX graphics core, a GPS pick-up, a 3Mp camera, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and HSDPA 3G connectivity, which may sell for anywhere from £600 to £800 when it comes out in November.

At the more obviously business end we have details of the RIM response to the iPad, the PlayBook, or as some wags have it the ‘BlackPad’ (geddit) – loaded down with goodies ranging from and weighing about 0.9 pounds, it (also) has a 7-inch display, a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, HDMI and USB connectors, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, front- and rear-facing HD cameras and Adobe Flash 10.1 (which Steve Jobs pointedly won’t allow on his equipment).

And the end of last week saw the news that Dell will be unveiling its own 7-inch tablet device in the very near future, – this after it launched a 5-incher in August, based on Google’s Android OS. Well, great, sure. But?

Have you ever tried to write using a tablet? Take notes, annotate text? You can just about send an email on an iPad, if you’re patient, but there’s no way you could use one to write more than a Post-It’s worth of text.

Yes you can consume content on these babies fine – you can watch movies in HD, you can complete your iTunes hunt for that deleted B-side of 999 you last heard in 1981 (and won’t listen to again, by the way, more than once after you’re re-discovered they really weren’t as good as you remember them being).

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But they are essentially little tellies. They are one-way media, displays, not I/O devices. All the iPhone apps and what have you that we are seeing in business are nice enough but they are all just ways to push content out remotely, not for people to (that easily) send stuff back in over the firewall. So they are actually, I contend, not that much use. You’d be much better off using a Netbook and after being deprived of a laptop for a while, getting mine back today with its screen fixed was a joyous occasion.

Of course, I am doing something with water in the wind here – the tide is unstoppable and the tablet has won. But until we get really, really good speech recognition or go back to Palm-style stylus writing on screens (remember that? I ended up being quite good at working with that funny alphabet they used to have) the iX generation should be seen by business as glossy, fun add-ons to the working computer fleet – not replacements by any manner of means.

I’d love to go on, but I want to watch Dr Who (or rather, Amy Pond) in HD on my iPad. In other words; goof off and have fun with my nice wee TV. So great it’s not a boring work-y computer, right?

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