Friday, January 20, 2012

Tablets Are Not Always The Right Medicine

Scanning the articles and reports on CES this year, one could tell it was a success. I'm told by insiders they set new attendance records and the non-profit organization that runs the show is apparently doing very well.

In the press the large screen televisions and monitors seem to be all the rage. With features like AMOLED screens, 3D and internet ready, these devices are going to start appearing in living rooms everywhere.

There are also tablets galore in demonstrations with many already deliverable. It seems everyone and their brother is touting an iPad killer. What did not come across to me in the media was the plethora of PC vendors displaying their new products. According to sources present there were quite a lot of new computers with a notebook form factor on display.

With the ability to pack enormous amounts of processor, memory and disk storage in extremely light and thin enclosure, notebooks are becoming attractive again. High resolution screen and built in cameras, microphones and pointing devices make them ideal for today's smaller, often shared office desk space, tiny plane seats and trays or your half of the table at Starbucks.

It made me wonder if tablet fever is another example of a device riding the hype curve. Are tablets really better in all circumstances? In my view, the answer is no.

Portable computers like tablets and notebooks are currently 55% of the market. Some project this to grow to 70% over the next couple of years. The desktop is clearly in decline but its not at all obvious which type of portable will dominate.

Tablets, particularly the iPad, are wonderful devices because they are small, light, fast and very portable. Construction companies are using them on job sites to deliver drawings and enable annotation. They are great to take to meetings where you can call up documents, do searches or even take notes. We're already touted them as satellite trucks in a box for on the street news reporting.

You can purchase all kinds of add-ons such as covers, stands and keyboards which work with the iPad. Like many tablets it has long battery life and is pretty durable.

However, the traditional clam shell style offers a full size keyboard and, often, a larger screen. While it may take up a bit more room on the desk, the utility of a full size keyboard without having to add a second device or surrender screen real estate is worth it.

Anyone who does a serious amount of writing or editing will conceded it is much easier when you have a full keyboard and large screen. As new, powerful and portable notebooks begin to appear at attractive price points I predict we will see a shift back toward this type of device over tables.

What do you think? Are you using a desktop, notebook or tablet today?

Captain Joe

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