Friday, January 10, 2003

Technology Adoption: Tablet PCs

Technical leaders are wondering what to do about the Tablet PC. My recommendation has been to make web pages work on them but no more. Massive adoption is not in the cards. This means that they will remain an expensive niche device. Scott Weiss has written a nice article that summarizes the issues. For his list of the Microsofts Top 10 Falsehoods, see:

Weiss, Scott. Tablet PCs: The Latest Flop., Jan 2003.

Key Arguments
1. The new tablets do not recognize handwriting well. Microsoft has completely backpedaled from handwriting recognition by providing offline, background handwriting processing. Not a great way to launch a pen-based platform.

2. The new tablets are expensive. The Tablet PC retails at nearly $3,000, about $1,000 more than a comparably equipped notebook computer running Windows XP. A well-equipped Pocket PC unit retails at $500, so the combination of the two products yields more convenience for less money.

3. The new tablets are heavy, unwieldy, and fragile. Tablet PC units weigh at least three pounds. Pocket PC units weigh in at about one-half pound. Tablet PC units cannot be dropped without breaking them, but there are hardened PDAs that can be dropped without damage. Symbol makes many such units.

4. Software on the Windows XP platform is not optimized for handheld use. If you have used Windows XP, you know how much configuration and pain is necessary. Handheld devices have zero boot time, launch applications flawlessly, do not require direct “Save” actions, and have uncomplicated file systems. They are also optimized for use with a stylus or directional buttons. Tablet PC is simply Windows XP without the mouse and the keyboard, but with a stylus instead. XP software is less responsive and requires more direct interaction than software designed for a PDA, and so the user spends a lot of time writing and tapping rather than getting his or her work done.


Post a Comment

<< Home