Tablet Struggles To Find Mainstream Pt. 5: I’m Sold

After several weeks of full-time Tablet PC use, I have to confess that I’ve sold my Tablet PC.   I used my Tablet PC for all of my computing tasks at home and work throughout the past couple months, and I was very pleased with the features that a Tablet PC offers.  Truth be told, I sold my Tablet PC with the intention of upgrading to a newer model as multitouch capabilities continue to become more advanced and prevelant.  I am a strong believer that multitouch and alternative/pen input will one day be as commonplace as they keyboard.  Throughout my Tablet PC experience I realized a few things that set the Tablet PC apart from traditional laptops.

Strengths of Tablet PC computing:

  • Note taking is amazing. Microsoft Office OneNote is quite possibly one of the best built applications that I’ve ever used.   Inking, drawing, jotting something down, keeping things organized, and searching through notes is beyond easy.   I created a work notebook and a new tab for each day.   In my work as a high school guidance counselor, I was able to record notes about students and easily search previous thoughts.
  • Using a Tablet PC/pen input seems more “natrual” than a keyboard. This one is hard to explain, but using a Tablet and writing notes felt more natural than sitting in an ergonomic position and using all of my fingers to input data.  I could quickly write down my thoughts and navigate web pages with a pen.  It wasn’t necessarily that speed was quicker when using the pen, but it was easier to record quick thoughts and notes.  I would not want to write a paper via Ink, although there are certainly those diehard tablet users that would.  In elementary classrooms where students are learning to write to high school classes where students are conducting research, I can think of no better alternative than the Tablet PC for learning and teacher instruction at this moment in time.
  • Using a Tablet PC is fun! Every person that saw the Tablet PC sitting on my desk instantly wanted to learn more.   There’s something amazing about an art program like Ink Art, a program that takes advantage of pressure sensitivity to create virtual masterpieces.  The Tablet PC has opened the doors to artisans, designers and the creative.

Weaknesses of Tablet PC computing:

  • Poor Implementation of Tablet PC functionality. Although many will complain that I would’ve had a different experience with Vista, the Tablet PC implementation in Windows XP felt clunky; The Tablet PC features didn’t feel like they were integrated smoothly with the operating system and many applications.   Surfing the Internet in Tablet PC mode was excellent, but entering a new URL into my browser via pen was sometimes cumbersome and time consuming.   Using the keyboard and/or mouse was faster for quick, repetitive tasks.
  • The biggest factor preventing the Tablet PC from reaching mainstream continues to be its price. While this is changing as we’re seeing potential from devices like Intel’s Classmate PC, the Tablet PC cannot compete with lower priced, equally powerful notebooks and even cheaper netbooks. Because of their higher price, they are marketed mainly towards individuals in the business world.  If the price would drop, the Tablet PC has could become a popular device in the consumer laptop market.
Despite selling my HP 2710p, I’m anxious for the next tablet that I’ll have an opportunity to own and the advanced features that are currently under development with Windows 7.  If you’re thinking about getting a Tablet PC, spend a few extra bucks and buy a tablet.  You won’t regret purchasing a versatile, adaptable, and fun computing device.

Follow the previous posts in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 or learn more about Tablet PCs in our Tablet PC 101 series.