Because of continuously improving mobile technology
- including handwriting recognition, speech recognition, thin and
light components and improved battery life - Tablet PCs have become
a viable option when deciding which mobile PC is right for you.
Tablet PCs are undoubtedly a head-turner, but do they have the features
you need to be more productive when compared to a laptop? For many
people, this is subjective and a matter of personal preference.
However, there are distinct advantages both platforms have depending
what you are looking to do with your mobile PC. This article will
explain some of these advantages so you may make a more informed
decision on your mobile computing needs.
of Tablet PCs If you decide to purchase a Tablet PC,
you have 2 primary options to choose from. Here is a simple
explanation of each type:
Slates are Tablet PCs that comprise of a screen and a pen. There
is no integrated keyboard, making them similar to PDAs in design.
An optional keyboard can be added through means of a wireless
or USB connection.
Convertibles are Tablet PCs with a base body and a keyboard.
Typically, the base attaches to the display at a single joint
that rotates 180° right to left and folds 180° back
and forth. This allows you to use the Tablet PC either as a
slate or a more familiar laptop configuration when needed.
Students or those with careers in fields that
require frequent note writing, such as medical, construction,
research or digital illustration, can definitely benefit from a
Tablet PC. Essentially, if anything you do on a day-to-day basis
requires a lot of handwriting or sketching you should at least consider
a tablet PC. Below
are a few advantages of purchasing a Tablet PC:
More natural form of input: Sketching and
handwriting are a much more intuitive form of input than a keyboard
and mouse, especially for people who are new to computers. Also,
the pen is an absolute pointing device rather than a relative
pointing device like the mouse. Something on screen can be clicked
on by taking the pen straight to it (the pen can "jump"
to its target).
Gesture recognition: Gestures (moving the stylus
in special patterns over the screen) are powerful ways to increase
Paperless world: Lack of paper makes it easier
to share and reorganize notes by moving text around the page instead
of using a physical eraser. This also reduces clutter from paper
binders and expedites workflow interaction.
Student note-taking: Tablet PCs make it possible
for students and conference attendees to take graphical notes
of figures during class and presentations.
Accessibility: Those who are physically unable
to type but can hold a stylus are able to input characters at
a reasonable rate.
Digital art: Tablets are often necessary for
some professional digital artists, who need precise control in
their work. For many, mouse movement is too jerky to be used as
Portability: Slate tablets and hybrids without
keyboards are very slim and light compared to typical laptops
and can easily be tucked under the arm like a book.
Horizontal orientation: Most tablet PCs do
not interrupt line of sight since they lie flat on the table or
in one's arms. This allows for better interaction in business
meetings and conferences and also makes it easy for digital artists
to draw on a horizontal medium.
Even with the technological advancements that
have gone into Tablet PCs, they are still, for the most part, not
as powerful or full of features as their laptop cousins. To achieve
a smaller form factor, lighter weight and longer battery life, many
of the higher-end features or power hungry hardware options found
in a laptop are intentionally left out of most Tablet PCs. If you're
looking for a desktop replacement, powerful media/graphics hub or
high-end processing machine, you're not going to find it in almost
any Tablet PC. However, performance continues to improve on Tablet
PCs and hopefully in the near future these mobile PCs will at least
rival the feature set of a comparably priced laptop. That is because
currently, Tablet PCs are always more expensive than a similarly
configured laptop. What other factors should you consider when making
your decision? Below are some disadvantages of Tablets:
Higher price tag: Convertible Tablet PCs cost
roughly $300 more than their non-tablet counterparts. However,
prices are expected to even out in the future.
Screen size: The size of Tablet PC screens
currently peaks at about 14 inches. However, some models make
up for this with very high resolution (a higher pixel density
per unit area, which is a necessity for digital artists who use
the stylus), making this a tradeoff rather than a disadvantage.
Fewer model options than laptops: Relatively
few manufacturers offer Tablet PCs compared to laptops.
Hinge: The weakest physical part of a laptop
is often the hinge. Convertible tablet PCs have only one hinge
(traditional laptops have two hinges), and thus experience higher
stress and wear on the single hinge.
Digitizer issues: Some tablet digitizers cannot
keep up if the user writes or draws quickly, reducing the accuracy
of the lines the computer captures. In addition, the signal from
the pen may become distorted near the edges of the screen.
Input speed: Maximum handwriting speed can
be significantly slower than maximum typing speed, which can be
as high as 50-150 WPM.
If all of the above still has you "on the
fence" of which mobile PC to buy, making a decision may come
down to three basic factors: hardware requirements, range of use,
and accessibility. Choosing a mobile PC should reflect your needs
as a user, and may simply come down to personal preference.