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Tablet PC Struggles To Find Mainstream: My Plan



It’s no secret that I don’t currently own a Tablet PC.   As a contributing writer for GottaBeMobile, a site that is deeply rooted in the Tablet PC community, you’d think that I would own a tablet and preach the gospel of its benefits.   I love mobile technology, but does the fact that I’m not a tablet owner indicate they’re not all they’re cracked up to be?   Here are two reasons why some people have yet to investigate the Tablet PC’s potential:

Bad Marketing
From an educator’s standpoint, I see huge potential for the Tablet PC to prosper in the classroom.   A recent post by GBM’s Matt Faulkner highlights a school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama that has foregone textbooks for Tablet PCs.   An interesting note about the article’s headline is that it reads, “Private Tuscaloosa School Trades Textbooks For Laptops.”   The article and associated video does comment on the ability to write on the laptops and occasionally refers to them as tablets, but promotes the program as a laptop driven endeavor.   The general public struggles to distinguish the advantages between a tablet and a regular, old-fashioned laptop.   Poor marketing has led to a lack of familiarity and understanding of the Tablet PC’s true functionality and benefits.

James Kendrick of jkOnTheRun points out that the new Microsoft web site doesn’t mention the Tablet PC.   His post about this topic has created a stir among the Tablet PC community regarding the future of Tablets.   This is yet another example of poor marketing and lack of exposure.

One of the biggest threats to the Tablet PC becoming a popular device is the price.   Many tablet’s run five hundred to one thousand dollars more than a traditional laptop.   Factor in the netbook, an ultraportable, low-cost, notebook computer, and tablets looks less appealing.   Most folks would rather shell out 350 bucks for something that they are familiar with and works.   However, the netbook craze could end up being a blessing to the Tablet PC.   Glimpses of Intel’s third generation Classmate PC show a low-cost machine that sports a touch-enabled, convertible screen.   The introduction of lower cost, Atom powered Tablets and better marketing would open the door to a new crowd of potential tablet users.

I have a plan to investigate the tablet’s future.   Over the next few weeks I will be ditching my MacBook for a Tablet PC.   I will be blogging about my experiences using inking features, carrying the tablet with me at work and home.   Here are a few ways I will be using the tablet:

  • At school as a high school guidance counselor
    • Creating schedules for students via ink
    • Keeping ink notes on students regarding various issues
    • Note taking during staff and inservice meetings
    • Presentations in classrooms to students
  • At home
    • All of my everyday computing tasks: e-mail, IM, etc.
    • Keeping track of to-do lists, grocery lists
    • Note taking during a weekly Bible study
    • Daily news reading and blogging

One of my goals during the next few weeks will be exposing the tablet to students, parents, colleagues and friends.   I will gauge their thoughts regarding the tablet and try to determine if they think it has a place in the world of mobile tech.   I’m skeptical that I will replace my pad of paper, real ink pen, and MacBook, but the next few weeks will tell.   If the tablet provides greater options it will find a permanent place in my house.   If not, it will find a new home through eBay.

Why do you feel the Tablet PC has struggled to become mainstream?

Photo credit: trip.mckay (flickr cc)

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