Will There Be a Tablet Revolution?

I read an interesting post over on ZDnet today that cites a Forrester Research report that predicts that tablets will begin to outsell netbooks in 2012. by 2014, they predict, more people will be using tablets than netbooks, and by 2015, tablets will constitute 23% of PC unit sales.

We can probably thank the iPad for most of the buzz that’s building around the tablet format lately, although tablets have been around for several years now. I’m on my second Motion Computing tablet, and had one of the original Compaq tablets before that, so I’ve used a tablet as my primary business computing device for the last seven or eight years, and I love them…although the way I use them has changed over the years.

When I first started using the tablet format, I thought it was very cool to carry it into a client meeting, fire up OneNote, and use the stylus to take my meeting notes. Over time, though, the “coolness” factor has worn off, and I’ve gone back to using pen and paper – mostly because I don’t have to wait for my pen and paper to boot up, and I never have to worry about battery life.

These days, I love it just for its portability. I’ve got a docking station in my office, and one at home, with external monitors in the two locations. It’s a snap moving back and forth between the two locations, and Win7 does a beautiful job of remembering the monitor settings. For several complicated reasons, the docking station is to the right of my external monitor in my office, and to the left of my monitor at home. I, of course, want to spread my desktop across both the external monitor and the tablet screen, and I also want, in both cases, to have the external monitor set as my primary monitor (because it’s bigger). When I was running Vista, I always had to open the display settings and drag the monitors back and forth when I moved between the two locations – Windows 7 always remembers.

When I travel, I snap on the removable keyboard, fire the tablet up in my hotel room, and just keep it there for the duration of my stay. I no longer need it for email when I’m out and about, because I have my AT&T Tilt (Windows Mobile) phone, and my Celio “REDFLY,” which connects to my Windows Mobile phone via bluetooth, for those times when I need a larger screen and/or keyboard to make reading and replying to email a bit easier. [NOTE: the Celio REDFLY is no longer made]

Side note: Battery life is better as well. With a full charge, I can use my REDFLY and Windows Mobile phone to take notes all day in a training class using the version of Word that came with my phone. My tablet battery won’t last that long. The REDFLY has a substantial battery, plus it extends my phone’s run-time because it doesn’t have to power the phone’s display screen when I’m using the REDFLY. In fact, I can even hook it to the REDFLY with a USB cable instead of using bluetooth, and recharge it from the REDFLY…but I digress.

Personally, I’m intrigued by the iPad, and think it would make a great plaything, but don’t see enough business value compared to my Motion Tablet to make it a compelling purchase. I’m more interested in getting one just so I can demonstrate the Citrix Receiver for iPad to clients.

How about you? Have you ever used a tablet? Do you have one now? Is it an iPad? Have you ever used (or are you now using) one as your primary computing device? Do you have plans to acquire one and/or to support them on your business network? Inquiring minds want to know.

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