Tablets

Tablets at work: Disney uses iPads to drive construction project

The usefulness of tablets in business is overhyped, but they can be great in specialized cases. Check out this example of Disney Imagineers using iPads in a construction project at Walt Disney World.

While tablet sales -- mostly the Apple iPad -- continue to accelerate, I've registered my skepticism about how useful they can be for the average business professional. But, I've also noted that tablets can be perfect for a number specialized uses and I'm always on the lookout for new examples. I discovered an interesting one this week in a recently-posted video from Walt Disney Imagineering, which is putting iPads in the hands of construction workers who are building a new expansion to Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

Here are some of the things these workers are doing with the tablets:

  • Viewing 3D models of building plans
  • Accessing permit documents
  • Scheduling
  • Video conferencing and Webex meetings with architects and contractors

These are little productivity improvements that can potentially streamline communications and help mitigate the inevitable changes that can slow down a project.

Take a look at the video below to see the tablets in action.

Also read

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

102 comments
Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

This is for adomo and anyone else who says there simply is no practical use for a tablet in business. An article came out just today that demonstrates that tablets--and iPads in particular--are invading the manufacturing floor as well as the corporate offices. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9219421/The_iPad_takes_on_manufacturing I don't care what you say about me, here, you simply cannot say I'm being blind, thick-headed or a shill. I only state the facts and opinions as I see them.

JJFitz
JJFitz

although more expensive, they offer the advantages of harsh environment protection, compatibility with common building applications, and in the field replaceable batteries. On a construction site the iPad is not much more than a reference tool and electronic clipboard.

Al_nyc
Al_nyc

they get free advertising via disney. In a construction environment those devices will not last long, so they also know they will have a customer who will be buying these devices on a regular basis.

adornoe
adornoe

and that is that, tablets (including the iPad) are not much more than just media or data consumption devices. That link about how it's being used in manufacturing environment, further proves what I've been saying, and that is that, it's being used as not much more than a dumb terminal, albeit it, a mobile terminal, for viewing of real-time data on the manufacturing floor. The other point is that, the price needs to come down, by a lot. I haven't been arguing that tablets don't have a use, I've been arguing about them having limited uses, and about their prices being too high for their limited capabilities. Do you still not understand?

JJFitz
JJFitz

Thank you for linking the article. It is very close to home as I work in the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing field and face many of the same challenges described in the article (Process Control Systems and Warehouse Management Systems). We tried using Windows XP Slate Tablets in our new manufacturing plant back in 2004 and the challenges we ran into were due to limitations with the process control software and the wireless network. If the client pc (tablet or desktop) lost its wireless connection even for a second when switching from one access point to another, the client application would automatically log the user out. Logging back in was annoying - especially since the client software would not accept fingerprint scanning for log in credentials (a feature available on the tablet). Since the client software and wireless technology was not ready for tablets we settled on thin clients running on wired mobile carts as the most effective and least expensive solution. Thin clients are still cheaper than most tablets - and much easier to manage on a domain. The warehouse is small so two access points cover it and the client software ran fine on the tablet/barcode scanner combo mounted on the forklift. However, the users found the handheld device a better form factor and more efficient. The gun-shaped handhelds are Symbol Technology devices with built-in barcode readers running on a custom Windows CE. Maybe we were just too ahead of the technology. I will keep my eyes open for improvements in tablet support though. Thanks

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... would a physical keyboard be more useful when you're holding the thing in one hand? In what way would it be more 'ruggedized' than a tablet in the same kind of housing? And in what way would that 'ruggedized' housing prevent you from using plug-in add-on batteries such as are available for non-ruggedized tablets? On the other hand, you're quite right about being a reference tool and digital clipboard; that's their purpose, after all.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... it has more than made up for its cost of purchase. In a construction environment, no computer will last forever, but if it does the job and makes the building process even a little bit easier, the device pays for itself.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... and just as fully disagree with them. Tablets are only limited by the imagination of their users. Why can't you see that the tablet is replacing the paper and pencil clipboard on the warehouse floor? That's not just media consumption, it's media modification--editing. A dumb terminal can NOT do that outside of a connection to a base station. I also think you grossly underestimate the cost of making such a device. Go out and price a 7" full-color LCD display. Go out and price a 10" full-color LCD display. The display alone costs as much as what you want to pay for a completed product. I understand only too well your arguments -- and find them lacking in both imagination and knowledge.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I fully agree with your observation that such capabilities were limited 8 years ago--and expensive. Today setting up such a relay system should be less expensive and more capable. One company, at least, offers not only an overall Wi-Fi capability with a standard transmitter but also offers mini units that offer both Wi-Fi and hard-wired networking capability for those non-Wi-Fi-equipped PCs that extends the range of the base station. I also know that there are many other less expensive options available now that allow the use of multiple antennae. Where before you had only two hot points in your warehouse you could have four or five now for about the same money. On the other hand, whoever set you up probably overlooked the effect all those metal racks would have on signal strength as you moved between them. I think a more efficient process might be to let the tablet be semi-autonomous so that it can still operate if it loses signal then automatically re-connect and re-synch upon returning to the warehouse office. While the slim-client method worked for you, you also emphasize its limitations. Newer systems are out and even a smart phone can effectively replace the Windows CE devices. What's really interesting is if you go to an Apple Store, you can see how the iPod Touch serves the same purpose. No, I'm not recommending a switch to iOS as such, only pointing out that technology has advanced and what held true then is no longer necessarily true. Limiting your viewpoint (no, I'm not talking to you specifically, JJ) blinds you to the future.

JJFitz
JJFitz

"In what way would a physical keyboard be more useful when you're holding the thing in one hand? The keyboard swings away on a convertible tablet when not needed and you can purchase a case with a handle in the center back for one handed use. I have one. It is more useful to have a ruggedized keyboard on a jobsite than not. In what way would it be more 'ruggedized' than a tablet in the same kind of housing? You are talking about ruggedizing the exterior of the tablet. That's only part of what I am talking about when I define ruggedized. The internal components of most tablets are not designed for harsh environments. Ruggedized tablets are designed to withstand dropping, temperature stress, moisture, dust and provide better screens for outdoor viewing. By the way Panasonic announced that they are working on real ruggedized Android Tablet. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. And in what way would that 'ruggedized' housing prevent you from using plug-in add-on batteries such as are available for non-ruggedized tablets? That's nothing but added weight and the awkwardness of an external battery. Replaceable batteries go inside the device. Some Windows tablets can hold two batteries if you want to sacrifice the CD ROM bay. On the other hand, you're quite right about being a reference tool and digital clipboard; that's their purpose, after all. . No kidding. I'm just saying that a ruggedized tablet would be more useful than that - especially if the jobsite is remote. You don't need to get to your office to finish your work because your office is with you. Finally, as so many iPad users often say, "It's all about the apps." The standard construction related Enterprise level applications already exist for Windows devices. They do not for Apple or Android tablets. I am talking about full versions of AutoCAD, Adobe Acrobat Professional, BlueBeam, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, Primavera, and integrated access to SharePoint resources to name a few. You cannot compare these applications to some watered down limited functionality substitute "app" that no one else on the project may have or support.

adornoe
adornoe

gadgets. If it's not feasible or advisable for tablets to ever have keyboards, then they're destined to remain simple-purpose and limited use gadgets. Hmmm, perhaps Microsoft has the answer to that problem, with voice commands and voice-to-text that seem to be one of the big new features for Windows 8.

adornoe
adornoe

When looking at a tool, one doesn't justify its value by how soon the cost can be recouped. If that were the case, in construction jobs, the cost of a hammer and other tools would be recouped from the first project. But, that's not how any company that cares about the bottom line should/would approach any purchase. No tool or equipment should become "disposable" or "dispensable" just because it has served its purpose or has paid for itself. You want that tool to be used over and over and over again, and in many different projects.

adornoe
adornoe

because, a bicycle is "feature limited", and the iPad and other tablets are "feature limited". When someone puts the iPad to use, and uses it to do what it's capable of doing, there is no argument that, it's being put to good use, but that usage is of a limited variety and no matter how much anyone tries, the iPad won't be able to do anything that it doesn't have the capabilities to tackle. If I wanted to use air-conditioning when riding a bicycle, it would be an impossible task. If I wanted to turn an iPad into a productivity device, it wouldn't be impossible, but, it wouldn't be a very pleasant experience, and at that point, I might as well be using a netbook or a laptop, and very likely, at a lower price than the feature-limited iPad. Why justify using the tablet as a "productivity device" when it's not even close to that? It's a media consumption device, which, with tortured attempts to emulate a laptop, can probably be used to provide some productivity, but there is no real justification to go through the effort.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I'm not arguing that it CAN be a media device, I'm arguing that it's not ONLY a media device, which has been the sticking point in this whole argument for days. I even pointed out that a desktop IS a media consumption device but I notice you didn't insist that it was ONLY that. You're the one who's stuck, not me.

adornoe
adornoe

You've finally come to your senses and admitted that the iPad is being used as a media consumption device, by recognizing that, the current usage by "professionals" is as a "supplemental device" and not as a productivity device. Remember that "supplemental" means that, it's as an assistant device, where the real work is being done by some other equipment with a lot more power. So, in essence, you're finally admitting that the iPad is being used as a limited capability media consumption device. Way to go! You're learning and you're coming around. ;)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Were you part of the design team that created it? Why, oh why do you keep insisting a tablet cannot do what it's already doing? You keep insisting that I'm trying to call it a full-powered PC but what I'm saying is that it's a supplemental device that is far more capable than you want to believe. The tablet is already in professional use around the world for more than "just media consumption." Open your eyes and look, instead of blinding yourself to facts.

JJFitz
JJFitz

It's called putting a square peg in a round hole. You can probably do it with a sledgehammer but at what cost? Tablets have their place but when realtime is measured in microseconds as it is often in a pharmaceutical plant, wireless tablets don't cut it. Most plants use wired thin clients with large displays. Some areas even use 40" - 60" flat panels so you can see the data from anywhere in the room.

adornoe
adornoe

device, A person's creativity can make full use of a device's capabilities, but when the capabilities aren't included in the device to begin with, then the device's limited capabilities get in the way of real productivity. Now, when it comes to imagination, you are using yours quite well in trying to convince others that tablets, more specifically, the iPad, is capable of doings things that it wasn't designed for. In every case mentioned where the iPad was put to use, its limited capabilities were very evident when one examines more closely what those applications really were doing, and in all cases, the applications involved were not much more than what one could do with a dumb terminal with better graphics and without a long-wire to connect to the main office or structure that contains the real guts of whatever was the real application. That's essentially the 70s and 80s on steroids. a

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You are right, I don't know your specific systems and applications; I wasn't trying to speak to those directly. I was trying to generalize a class of hardware and functions that could perhaps supplement or eventually replace your existing systems in the future. That said, Motorola mobility is not part of google, so I could well see them offering a tablet-based or smartphone-based reader system using Android that's not too different from what Apple uses with the iPod Touch in their own stores. This is the sort of device I was trying to describe when I mentioned a hardened case that included a barcode scanner. I only mentioned Otterbox there to reference the relative toughness of the package over an unprotected device. I won't argue the pistol-grip offers an advantage for comfort but I'm sure if that sort of option isn't available immediately that someone will build a generic grip for all brands of smart phone. It wouldn't be that difficult to design. In your case and many others, I'm sure the ability to swap batteries is viable, but not for everyone. That said, a pistol-grip-scanner case could easily offer a battery 'clip' that would serve the same purpose of keeping the smartphone/iPod Touch-like device charged since external booster batteries already exist for the majority of smartphones currently on the market. My point was that requiring an interchangeable 'internal' battery is unnecessary and potentially damaging to the device itself. Try instead to envision a modular device where if the overall scanner package fails, the cost of repair/replacement is roughly halved by replacing either the grip/scanner head or the processing head. Where a one-piece unit might cost from $750 to $1500 or more the two-piece concept would have parts replacements perhaps as low as $250 each with the potential for inexpensive software upgrades compared to the old WinMob devices which, while the best on the market for what they were, were also expensive and problematical by many of the reports I've read over the years. I'm talking possibilities, not absolutes. Even a square peg can fit, with the proper adaptor. Oh, and while I've not worked in pharmaceuticals, a certain ferro-ceramic plant I worked at used pill presses to punch out inductor beads and other electronic ferrous devices, so I well know the hazards of risking a spark in a dusty environment and the level of environmental sealing needed to protect control systems from damaging 'fallout.' I'm not saying such a product would work best for your specific needs, but I do see where such a product could simplify and economize warehousing and manufacturing. Again, I'm trying to generalize to a class of enterprise use where such products are now proving effective rather than target your specific purposes.

JJFitz
JJFitz

You are wrong. You do not know my Enterprise systems. The current smartphones cannot work out of the box for my particular systems. The warehouse system is designed for a particular line of barcode readers. Think Motorla / Symbol Technologies. Picture a ruggedized PDA on top of a gun and you have it. The form factor is superior to a smartphone. Trigger barcode readers beat an on screen virtual button hands down. One HUGE advantage -> You can still see the entire screen when you press the trigger to read the barcode as you verify the scan. And it fits in your hand better. Ruggedness? An otterbox is going to make the scanning barcode experience worse. Batteries: I am talking about MY environment. Replaceable batteries are applicable and make the experience better. I can get scanners with non-replaceable batteries but they do not make sense in MY environment. You are trying to convince me that the square peg will fit if you simply will it to. Or worse, if I spend money to modify the square peg until it is round. C'mon Vulpine. I know you are smarter than that. Trust me. Although I have almost 30 years of warehouse, IT, laboratory and pharmaceutical plant manufacturing experience, I am not close-minded to new technologies. I would sink in this industry if I was. I am constantly testing new technologies. If I discovered that a smartphone or a tablet would be a better solution (technologically and economically), I would recommend it.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Compatibility with Enterprise systems: it's already doing that. Security: Better than everything except Blackberry. Barcode scanning: Aside from it's built-in camera, hardened housings with laser scanners are part of a POS package that will just as easily work in a warehouse. Form Factor: compact and easy to read. Ruggedness: I mentioned that one above. Batteries: Many, many professional devices do no use user replaceable batteries for spark and medical reasons. In other words, and iPod could be that "out of the box solution". I don't know the costs, though.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Yes, I think we were just ahead of the capabilities of the existing technology. By "technology", I mean the process control software. It should have been able to tolerate momentary losses in wireless signal. It's all about how many times it polls the server for alarm status. The software is industry standard and is developed by a very large US company that should have been able to support it. We have recently upgraded the system and they still don't fully support wireless communications which is why (I bet) that Pfizer currently has limited the iPads to the offices and not walking around the plant floor. If they never travel from one AP to another, they will not lose the signal. The warehouse wireless situation is fine and the software plays well with the handhelds. The users simply prefer the handheld barcode scanners over the tablets for form factor - not functionality. iPod Touches might work but I believe that there are some significant disadvantages if we decided to switch to them. - compatablity with our Enterprise system - security - barcode scanning capabilities - form factor - durability / ruggedness - user replaceable batteries The devices we are currently using are an out of the box solution. You take them out of the box, turn them on and they find the network, ask for your login credentials, find the server / software and prompt you to begin picking. and let's face it - if you can't install your own apps and play Angry Birds on it, none of the devices are going to walk out of the plant. :)

JJFitz
JJFitz

It's an Android HTC Flyer with stylus input. I prefer the 7" form factor. It's great for what it is. It's handy for casual note taking. It would not have helped me pull up all the files I needed in the example I gave. I apologize if I confused you with my story. Finding those files was done mostly with a real keyboard. It's just way way way faster to accurately touch type with a real keyboard. All I meant to say was (in case you brought it up) I have more input options on my tablet than a slate tablet does. Keyboard, stylus, virtual keyboard, touchpad, wired or wireless mouse, trackball, and fingers. My point about the poor stewardess is that once again, you brought up an anecdote (a falling iPhone) that is most likely the exception to the rule and held it up as if it was the rule. If the iPhone or the iPad were really rugged, I would expect Apple to advertise that.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... when another tool may be just as good? I do think the WP8 tablet is going to be significantly better than any previous WinMo platform but as both I and Adomo agree, it isn't out yet. Until it is, we simply won't know.

JJFitz
JJFitz

My point is, I recommend using the right tool for the right job and I think a ruggedized Windows Tablet is the right tool for a construction site.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

A Swiss Army Knife is not a toy--yet many use it as such.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... though I do understand your reasoning. In the first paragraph you point out how your convertible tablet (at least, that what it sounds like) was used mostly without the keyboard while you were arguing that the keyboard was an essential part of that incident. Personally, I think a keyboardless tablet could have done the same job but obviously you already had the tool you needed at the time. Considering that many if not all of the files you referenced could be viewed, read and/or edited on something like the iPad at a much lower cost up front, I think the new class of tablets could serve the purpose. I'm not saying to run out and buy one now, but rather when the old tool dies of old age, you might want to at least consider the new tablets. After all, a stylus is available for use on the glass tablets as well. The stewardess fell through some trees into swampy land--she got lucky but even so she wasn't the only high-fall survivor. The iPhone landed on a hard roof of a multi-story building. Nor is the construction all that different between the iPhone and the iPad. Yes, the glass faces broke, but it was still functional. With a reasonably priced case like the OtterBox I mentioned, a tablet would have an even better chance of surviving a drop at normal usage heights. Next, you ask how the conversation shifted to phones, but what I was trying to demonstrate is that those easy plug-in batteries work just as well on a tablet and Kensington, at least, has a battery case that fits an iPad to extend the usable charge without making the device all that much thicker or heavier than without. I'll grant it may not still have a keyboard (though that kind of case is available too) but the point is made that the newer tablet can eventually replace your older one for a lot less money and perform the same tasks. Essentially we're saying similar things but where you're saying you absolutely need Windows I'm thinking you may be stuck in a rut. Even so, reports have it that tablets will arrive fairly soon with WP7 on them which would give you everything you're using now--except the keyboard--on a more compact, less expensive and lighter package. I won't fault your need for Windows, our whole discussion has been on how a tablet could replace what you're using no matter the OS involved. I think the Win8 tablet will be exactly what you need.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Although I think most people use them as an entertainment device, it can be a tool. I think of it like a Swiss Army knife - adequate for small tasks.

JJFitz
JJFitz

"It is more useful to have a ruggedized keyboard on a jobsite than not." I really can't understand why. Very often when I am at a job site, I need to quickly reference electronic documents when I see a discrepancy in the field. -like the time I saw a crew installing very large and very expensive ladder trays in my new data center to "support all of the copper cabling in the room". I wasn't running any copper to the server rows as I had planned to run fiber and the server racks included small ladder trays adequate to hold fiber. Using my windows convertible tablet, I was able to prove that the electrical contractors had all been informed of and approved the final project specifications and that they were using plans that had been rejected over a year ago. With all of the information I was able to retrieve from my tablet, I was able to stop the work for an hour until the final hard copy plans were delivered to the site along with installation instructions, and Microsoft Project plans that I sent to the trailer printer. I was also able to take pictures, open PDF's and draw on them to illustrate back at the respective offices what was happening. This little feat required secure access to internal and external pdf's, CAD's, word files, unmounted Outlook email archives, microsoft project plans, OneNote, SharePoint, and the contractor's and manufacturers' websites. If I did not have this capability, the work would have delayed by at least a day while we paid someone to pull all of the correct documentation together. I could not have achieved this so easily and so quickly without a real keyboard (or pen input) with an iPad or any other non-Windows tablet on the market today. $20,000 worth of cable tray, $15,000 worth of Cat6, and at least two weeks in unnecessary labor was saved. There have been countless occasions like this where my windows tablet paid for itself in the field. When you're on the job site you're not going to be typing full reports as you perform your inspections or refer to drawings; (see above). That exercise required a lot of keyboarding and resources that are unavailable on any non-windows tablet at this time. Additionally, once the building is wrapped, there are lots of space to comfortably write full reports without the distraction of the office. I am very used to making do where I am. Two saw horses, a sheet of plywood, and an upturned bucket work quite well for me. ...but you have to consider that if an iPhone can survive a 12,000 foot fall... Stewardess Vesna Vulovi?? survived a fall of 33,000 feet when Flight JAT 367 exploded on January 26, 1972 over what is now the Czech Republic. So, is it safe to say that we would all survive a fall from 33,000 feet? Secondly, you are talking about an iPhone not an iPad which is vastly different in design. I've also found the 'glossy' glass display is far easier to read outdoors than any conventional matte screen so far. You should try using a screen that is designed for outdoor use. I think you would be impressed. They are much brighter and less susceptible to glare. "Replaceable batteries go inside the device." The market is full of plug-in 'extender' batteries for almost all brands of smart phone... Mophie has one that barely increases the size of the phone... How did the subject change to phones? ...and we're not sacrificing a drive bay to do this. Non-windows tablets do not have drive bays to sacrifice. I don't need a CD drive in the tablet when I am on a jobsite. A second internal battery is more useful. I can keep the CD drive in my truck in case I need it. "You don't need to get to your office to finish your work because your office is with you." I don't care how good you may think you are with a laptop, you honestly can't tell me you don't go back into that on-site office trailer to sit down and type up your reports. Can you? I can say it. I did say it. I work where I am because everything I need is with me. If I lost the stylus, I can write notes with my finger, or I can type notes with my keyboard, or if I don't want to swing out the keyboard, I can type on a virtual keyboard, or I can record my voice. (same as a non-windows tablet) A replacement stylus costs $23. It is cheap enough to have a back up. By the way, AutoCad in particular is back on the Mac which means it even has capabilities for mobility devices like the iPad--even up to some editing capability. etc. Why opt for some editing capability when you can have full functionality? I don't even need AutoCAD on my tablet, I can vpn to my desktop and get full functionality. Why settle for less? You can VPN from a non-windows tablet but I would like to see someone use AutoCAD that way. Lastly, I own a non-windows tablet that accepts real stylus input so I know what it is capable of. I find that I am using it more often than my windows tablet when I am in the office for taking notes at meetings or for hallway conversations. Instant on is the best feature but I do miss OneNote. But if I am going to be out in the field, the windows tablet is a much more useful tool. What you want is coming, and I still believe it's going to be here long before 30 years. We'll see.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

But to others it can be and is far more than a toy.

adornoe
adornoe

To them, the novelty and coolness factors matter more..

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

"It is more useful to have a ruggedized keyboard on a jobsite than not." I really can't understand why. When you're on the job site you're not going to be typing full reports as you perform your inspections or refer to drawings; you need a relatively simple, easy to view display that lets you zoom in on details, zoom out for overviews, perhaps rotate viewpoints and, of course, review and annotate all the forms that are involved in planning and construction. Quite honestly, the keyboard is an exception to the rule--especially if the tablet can automatically transmit any finger-typed notes to the laptop/desktop in the office trailer. "Ruggedized tablets are designed to withstand dropping, temperature stress, moisture, dust and provide better screens for outdoor viewing." I will accept that the iPad is not that accommodating to higher temperatures, but you have to consider that if an iPhone can survive a 12,000 foot fall onto the roof of a building and operate well enough not only for the Find My iPhone app to locate it but also to accept calls despite a shattered glass face, the thing must be pretty tough inside. I doubt that any 'hardened' laptop would have survived as well. I've also found the 'glossy' glass display is far easier to read outdoors than any conventional matte screen so far. Most of those 'ruggedized' laptops tend to include some form of shade for the display--especially in military use; and I don't mean just to hide the display from kibitzers. "Replaceable batteries go inside the device." Not always. The market is full of plug-in 'extender' batteries for almost all brands of smart phone and in some cases are an integral part of a protective case for the phone. Mophie has one that barely increases the size of the phone it attaches to and almost doubles the internal battery's charge duration. Again, we're talking a mobility device and we're not sacrificing a drive bay to do this. "You don't need to get to your office to finish your work because your office is with you." I don't care how good you may think you are with a laptop, you honestly can't tell me you don't go back into that on-site office trailer to sit down and type up your reports. Can you? On the other hand, where you once had to copy all your notes and checklists into that laptop when you sat down, half of your work is already done if you used the tablet as a clipboard and that tablet feeds your data automatically to the laptop/desktop. That's my point. You don't need to carry a more bulky, inconvenient laptop around; you don't need to concern yourself with losing the stylus needed for most conventional 'touch' displays and your work becomes more efficient as you don't need to spend as much time in that office. The iPad in particular offers a minimum of 8 hours of full-time use per charge and with its battery saving programming you could probably spend a full 16-hour day on site and still be functional at the end of the day. A 'ruggedizing' case like the OtterBox could give you all the on-site hardening you need without spending hundreds more for a special-built "hardened" tablet. By the way, AutoCad in particular is back on the Mac which means it even has capabilities for mobility devices like the iPad--even up to some editing capability. Some of the other things have iPad capability as well through apps like the iWork series (pages is .doc compatible), PDF reading capability and others. I'll grant that it doesn't yet offer all those capabilities you mention, but I find it unlikely that you're going to want to use some of them while standing up and talking to your different contractors or crew. Again, a PC in the on-site office trailer is best for anything over a 5-minute face-to-face. Keep in mind that I am specifically discussing construction site purposes for a tablet. Again I will note that we are only in the beginning of using this 'new' technology. Now that the tablet/slate form factor is proving its worth, Microsoft's goal of making tablets ubiquitous is going to be realized--though Microsoft is moaning that it's their competitor that made it work right. It's not that you need an old-fashioned point-and-click UI on the form factor but rather a touch UI that encourages the software developers to modernize their applications. What you want is coming, and I still believe it's going to be here long before 30 years.

adornoe
adornoe

has been talking about with their newest version of text-to-voice or voice-to-text. Speech-to-text and vice-versa have been around for a lot of years, and I experimented with that type of application more than 15 years ago with Windows 95, and I gave up on them because they were too much error prone, and if Apple had anything like that 14 years ago, then I'm pretty sure that it was just as useless then too. What Microsoft has in mind for all of their varieties of OSes (for smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops), is a lot more advanced than what you might have seen implemented in any Apple products, or even in Microsoft products of the past. However, I'm pretty sure that, it's going to be a while before a computerized application for text-to-voice and voice-to-text, will be as capable as person doing the conversions. In case you missed it, Mary Jo Foley had an article discussing the feature: Microsoft making big speech bets with Windows 8, Bing http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsoft-making-big-speech-bets-with-windows-8-bing/10303

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

How's that going in Windows? That's been a native part of the Mac OS for a minimum of 14 years that I can remember, if not longer.

adornoe
adornoe

text-to-speech and speech-to-text feature is capable of doing. Sure, those features have been around for a long time, but they're were always very problematic and accuracy was never there. There have been reviews about that feature from different tech sites and even this one. Perhaps you need to bring yourself up-to-date with what's happening in that area, because, that feature "being available" for a long time isn't the same as having it work. No doubt even the latest Microsoft version won't be perfect, but, it's supposedly a much better implementation than anybody else has had, and that includes Apple. If Apple had that kind of capability, there is no doubt that they would have added it as a feature to their smartphones and tablets, but, there is also no doubt that they would've made it an option or an app at a very high price, like perhaps $100 or more for each device, while Microsoft will be including as a feature with Windows 8. When it comes to the idea being critical, that's all dependent upon the user and the need at the time. For example, it should be a requirement for people that do texting while driving. Also, dictation while away from the office would come in very handy to executives and writers and anybody else that does any kind of typing. Heck, I would use it all the time to issue my responses to you and to all TechRepublic discussions and to the other discussion boards that I frequent. That would save me a lot of time, and all I'd have to do is just review the written text for content and accuracy. Also, I know of many doctors, who after they've seen a patient, they record their notes on a recorder of some kind, and they have those recordings converted to text by a typist or secretary. The speech-to-text feature is already being used in some offices and with Microsoft making it available to the masses, its use would become a lot more prevalent. But, hey, I expect that even Apple will see it as a "necessary" feature and include it in their future products.

adornoe
adornoe

opinions and other ideas. I'll explain it to you again: Tablets might have a place in the computing world, and their place is as "super-smart terminals", not the dumb-terminals of the past. But, super-smart does not mean that they can replace PCs or even netbooks. Now, like I've already stated many times, and you refuse to hear me (read me?) when I say it, I too am in the market for a tablet or two, but, and here's where you still don't understand what I'm saying, not at what I consider outrageous prices. Like I've said, for the limited power and features that one gets with the current tablet offerings, I could not justify paying more than $300 for any of them. And, even the e-readers are overpriced for what they can do, but, I'd be willing to pay between $100 and $150 for one of those. But, tablet or e-reader, they're still not much more than media consumption devices. If you're looking for ideas, then you're looking for the wrong type of input from me. I'm not the one trying to justify or rationalize the iPad or tablets. However, I will offer an idea, which could go a long way towards expansion of the tablet market: Lower the damn prices to something that can justify people purchasing those limited use devices.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

It's obviously not critical simply because people in general aren't using it. As was previously noted, speech to text in an office environment simply becomes a noisy environment where nobody can really concentrate on their own work due to hearing what's going on in the cubicles around them. About the only place where v-t-t might be usable is in a quiet environment like your own home or your car. You might as well stop trying to Straw Man me as an Apple Zealot--quite honestly the Zealots are the anti-Apple people who still insist Apple is a has-been nobody or an Evil Empire because it's grown far beyond what anybody imagined even ten years ago. My arguments have been primarily about a form-factor, not a specific brand through most of these threads. Yes, I do consider Apple's product as the superior one for now, but that's simply because for now there is no real competition to the iPad--not one other product or even group of products has matched the iPad's sales so far. I also pointed out that I believe the Windows Phone-based tablets will have more impact than the Android fans believe. I still think that the Courier using WP7 could have been a strong competitor if Microsoft hadn't dropped the concept; though their early concept was visibly far inferior because they had too small of a view towards what it could be capable of doing. Keep in mind: Apple was not first to market with USB--yet the iMac grew the USB peripheral market faster than any previous product. Apple was not first to market with an MP3 player--yet the iPod, with iTunes, became the top digital music player on the market because of its ease of use. Apple was not first to market with a smartphone--yet the iPhone blew all estimations away, selling one million units in a mere 80 days; more than any previous product ever. Apple was not first to market with a tablet--not even close--yet the iPad sold its first million in less than a month and even now is selling at a rate even higher, indicating that that first month, two months, quarter were not a new-product surge but rather a truly desired device that meets the needs of tens of millions of people around the world despite it's so-called "very limited" capabilities. So your argument of, "The only reason it's not critical in your point of view, is that, Apple didn't do it first," is obviously false as proven by history. You're only making excuses now.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

To you, and I emphasize to you tablets are little more than toys that can't offer any productivity. I, on the other hand. know first hand that they are far more productive than you can imagine. My arguments are trying to demonstrate like for like--a $400 reading-only device vs a $500 mildly productive device that can and does do things like feed video presentations through a projector, edit documents, edit photographs and many, many other things. For a $100 difference you would expect far less capability. On the other hand, I personally agree that the Kindle XL is grossly overpriced. And yet, despite what I've been saying and the proofs I've been offering, you insist that a tablet is "... only a media consumption device." Ok, for YOU, maybe it is, but for millions of people around the world it is so much more. It's not that somebody buys a tablet because they're a "fanboy", but rather they become a fan because they truly like the product and it does what they want it to do. Apple has made its reputation of offering tools and devices that are easy to use and are truly functional for the non-techie. You want more, then wait and see if more is coming; stop trying to insist that your opinion is the only one that counts.

adornoe
adornoe

didn't do it first, or is nowhere as close to implementation of that feature as Microsoft is. If Apple had been first to market with speech-to-text, no doubt you would be claiming it as the killer feature for iPhones and iPads. When it comes to the use of the feature, yeah, of course, there will be times when it's not appropriate to use it. But, it's going to be a very big benefit when people will no longer be texting while driving, and the smartphone can convert the spoken word to a text message. Speech-to-text is something that, if proven to be effective, should become free or open source, or at least licensed at very reasonable prices so that, everybody could have the feature.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I will argue that the capability has been available for years but it's quite obvious that such a system is more an annoyance than an assist for most users. Even in my own case, you can imagine what it would be like for me to speak my comments while my wife is on a bridge call at work (we both work from home.) Writing my novels would be even more interesting, though I could see a way to role-play dialog to make it look much more real. No, I think voice will have its place in the future, but in cases like the bridge of the Enterprise more than an everyday business application.

adornoe
adornoe

Voice recognition software is already being used, and is available for government and police depts, so, it's just a matter of time for that capability to come to tablets and PCs and smartphones, and the spoken word, like the phrase you mentioned above to "unlock" a device, should not be hard for a computing device to understand. But, perhaps perhaps an app to recognize you fingerprints on a screen's device, would also serve to unlock your device. That technology also already exists. However, with MS's implementation of speech-to-text, it won't be coming from an app, since it supposedly will be built into the OS, WP7'Mango/Tango/fandango /(or whatever 'ango) and Windows 8.

JJFitz
JJFitz

That's cool. I'm just saying that it might be inappropriate, annoying, and / or embarrassing to use it in certain circumstances. What would be very handy is a voice recognition feature to unlock your device. Press a button and say "This is Mike, unlock my phone / tablet / computer."

adornoe
adornoe

and that's not the argument I'm making. The argument being made by Microsoft is that, their speech-to-text is superior to what other manufacturers are implementing, and probably adequate enough to serve most usage. Now, the speech-to-text feature that Microsoft is talking about will be part of the OS, or a feature within the OS, and with smarphones and tablets, there won't be a need to plug in a microphone. As text-to-speech software improves, it will be just a matter of updates via the update mechanism from the Microsoft mothership. Now, the intelligence that Microsoft is talking about, is a bit more sophisticated than the example you mentioned about finding the nearest ATM. What MS has in mind would contain a bit more AI along with the text-to=speech, where if a user wanted to "talk to his uncle living in Virginia about the impending hurricane Irina", the software would be smart enough to know what the user wanted and would then proceed to connect to the uncle's cell-phone or wired-phone and/or his PC. That's not exactly just "text-to-speech" or "voice commands".

adornoe
adornoe

Look, I've already stated, many times, that tablets do have so use, and even I will consider using them, but only after they drop down to prices that reflect their very limited use, and that price point is somewhere between $99 and $299. So, when it comes to considering them, I've been in the market for those devices, but not for the obscene prices that they've been selling at. A playback device and a toy, don't merit a price tag of $500 and above. If I had learned about the closeout sales of the TouchPad last week-end, I would've been one of those to go after it. When it comes to a keyboard for a tablet, then you and I agree that, tablets will always be very limited in capabilities. So, there again, if it can never be justified to add productivity capabilities to the devices, then they'll always remain toys or dumb devices. Nobody can then justify paying $500 or more for a bad idea, unless of course, there are people like you who keep trying desperately to justify paying over $500 for something that's not much more than a toy, and basically useless for productivity or computing. Tablets, as they're designed, are simple media consumption devices, and their computing power will come from the cloud, like iCloud. In that case, then, the tablets should not cost much more than simple monitors, because, that's pretty much what a cloud server needs in order to send it's output to a machine that can render those results. When tablets are not being used as dumb terminals, yeah, they will be media consumption devices, but still, not very useful. No amount of rationalization is going to change that. Now, let me see if I can make you understand, once and for all. I do think that tablets serve a purpose, and I'm in the market for one or two of them, but I'll never be able to justify paying more than $300 for the limited uses that they've been designed to do. I'll keep my full-features PC with full-features OSes, and I'll use tablets for the simple tasks they've been designed for, like viewing construction plans for a Disney project.

JJFitz
JJFitz

There are some misconceptions about voice to text as well as some practical considerations to take into account. It takes a quite a lot of user dedication and speech adjustment for Dragon to understand English spoken by someone with a heavy accent. Voice to text will not automatically correct your grammar on the fly. If you don't speak English fluently, you can easily confuse voice to text. Even if voice to text was flawless, most work and home situations are not conducive to its use. Examples: You will disturb others around you if you work in a cubicle and talk to your computer all day. You can't use it in a meeting. Most people would shy away from using it to dictating emails or texts in public. It is less annoying to you and others if you restrict its use it to a private, soundproof setting. Lastly... and I am not kidding about this one... do not expect to record your voice, plug the recorder into the mic port and run voice to text software. You will be sadly disappointed. Someone at my office expected to write a 30 to 40 page Standard Operating Procedure this way. sheesh! It does have its uses though. Commanding the GPS to "Find the nearest ATM" is very useful. Windows tablet has some built in rudimentary voice commands but I don't think I have used it after the first hour of discovering it. "File, Down, Two, Down, Down, Open" (or something like that) will annoy the heck out of your co-workers. :)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Who is going out of his way to find excuses for not even considering the possibilities? Who is totally ignoring the potential simply because he can't see the forest for the trees? You are right, the voice commands thing wasn't the only thing you said, but I was trying to use that one thing to demonstrate how you're blinding yourself to the past--much less the future. You say the difference is Speech to Text and Text to Speech; both of these concepts have been available for computers for over a decade--on both platforms. It's Not New! Saying that Windows 8 will have that feature before anything Apple is like saying the 2012 Cadillac will have air conditioning before Ford even thinks about it. Your keyboard argument is just as dense. I have told you time and again that for a mobility device a hardware keyboard is an option, not a necessity. Once you physically add a keyboard to the device, you eliminate the mobility of the device--forcing you to set it down just to use it. Yes, I know some people NEED a keyboard, but when they reach that point they don't necessarily NEED a tablet, do they? But if they don't NEED that keyboard, why leave it attached? You'd be surprised how much work you can do with a good touch interface and the right software. Windows, as yet, hasn't achieved that goal. A tablet can do "real work" depending on the kind of task required; just as a clipboard can do "real work" without needing a typewriter attached. I can not and will not accept that tablets are ONLY media consumption devices because to do so closes my mind to possibilities. Stop trying to convince me that your reasons are the only valid reasons--they're not. The only reason we're arguing is because I've been trying to open a closed door and you've been trying to close a door that's locked open.

adornoe
adornoe

You're the one that is quite apparently disregarding everything that is being said, and will continue thinking up excuses in order to justify the iPad and other tablets. Look, I've never said that they don't serve a purpose, and for certain tasks, they are more than adequate. But, not at prices above $300, unless they get some grown-up features that PCs contain, and a grown-up OS, like PCs contain. Now, you again fail to read for content and comprehension. Having voice commands is not the only thing I mentioned, and I'm quite aware that that feature has been available in other devices for a while. The big difference is speech to text and text to speech, and when it comes to that feature, it seems that Windows 8 will have that feature before iPads and even Macs. Now, having to get a keyboard to supplement the very limited fake keyboard on a tablet, is defeating the whole idea of a simple, one-container device, and it further proves that, tablets are crippled devices if people need to get additional peripheral equipment in order to get any real work done. Look, accept that tablets are simple media consumption devices, and they probably do have their place in the modern world, but, it's undeniable that they're just little more than toys, and still limited to justify their high prices.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I'm absolutely certain that you know keyboards are available to use on these tablets, no matter what brand you choose. What they are proving, however, is that those keyboards are not a full-time requirement but rather a use-as-needed and get out of the way part of the equation. Voice commands and voice to text is already available--certainly not "new" as you think it is for Windows 8. Voice command and v-to-t were even advertised on TV over 8 years ago for Windows XP. Microsoft's problem with that, just as with their 'tablet edition' of Windows itself is that they simply did not encourage any development in that direction and it died just as quickly. Now, in mobility, such capabilities are far more logical and development is encouraged.

adornoe
adornoe

a thing. Even trying to justify its $500 prices vs the price of an e-reader at $400 doesn't change a thing either. At those prices, neither device is worth the expense. However, there are e-readers that sell for around $200 and some for even less, and at those prices, perhaps the e-readers can be more justified. At around $400, the e-readers are a waste of money, and even tablets that would sell at $400 are too expensive for the little that can be done with them. Now, if the iPad or any other device is going to be used as a simple consumption device and dependent on a real computer to access the data from, then the iPad would be even more overpriced than an e-reader. If the iPad is going to be dependent upon the iCloud to access data from your other computers, than that defeats the whole purpose for having an iPad, which was supposed to be a self-contained device that could be used for media consumption. To take advantage of the iCloud's touted benefits, people will also need to get themselves Apple computers, and the whole proposition becomes a whole lot more expensive. But, hey, I'm pretty sure that there will be people who will fall for the "echo-system", because, after all, it's from Apple, and price is no barrier for the Apple fanatics. ;)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

First off, consider Amazon's Kindle XL(extra large). It has a roughly 10" screen and is nothing more than an e-reader, yet it's priced at $389. A Wi-Fi-only iPad with about the same amount of storage only costs $499 and does much, much more, much more quickly and in full color. Which, really, is the overpriced 'toy'? So far nobody has been able to produce a better product at or below the same size as the iPad for significantly less than the iPad itself sells. In other words, there is no other 'toy' that does as much at a lower price as long as you discount HP's fire sale on the TouchPad at a 2/3rds loss just in manufacturing costs. On the other hand, the tablet is far more than just a toy for those who realize its potential. With the Cloud, I agree that most of the current views seem to want us to return to the mainframe/dumb terminal days. Personally, I strongly disagree with that concept simply because it's so fragile and insecure. We've already seen it demonstrated multiple times that all a hacker needs to do is infiltrate a single account on a server to get access to all the accounts on that server and potentially even access the rest of the farm. Do you really want to risk your personal or business data to an environment like that? I think Apple's system is enough different that the risks are reduced by letting your PC be a Smart Terminal/server that accesses your data instantly from your other devices. In other words, I see Apple's iCloud as a relay service more than an online hard drive. Keep in mind that Apple has had (dot)Mac and MobileMe going for almost ten years and they're changing their own paradigm. I'm believing that our biggest 'quibble' here is a matter of definition and that what I'm calling 'smart' you're calling 'dumb'. There is a difference between the two concepts which basically puts it that the 'smart' terminal does its own processing while the 'dumb' terminal relies on the host to do all the work. Again, they're not simply "consumption devices", no matter how many times you repeat that phrase.

adornoe
adornoe

I've never said that that there isn't a place for tablets. They have and serve their functions. But, those functions are very limited. And, for limited function gadgets, I find it hard to justify paying more than $300 for any tablet or toy. If the iPad or any tablet were to cost $200 or perhaps $300 or less, and it offered a bit more features and power than the current crop of those devices, then I'd consider getting one or perhaps even two. But, I wouldn't have any illusions about them being replacements for PCs, or that they could even approach the power of PCs. I'd use them as what they were designed to be, and that is as media consumption devices, with a little bit more processing power than a TV or an image viewer. Now, you talk about dumb terminals and mainframes as being the old technology, but, with the cloud, and especially the iCloud, the vendors are trying to tell us that, the PCs that you seem to be defending in part of your post are no longer necessary, and using tablets as "dumb terminals" with remote computing platforms serving as the "mainframes" of today, would be more than adequate. That's like going back to the future. So, instead of tablets being a device for the future, it's being designed to be just prettier and better graphics terminal, making requests and processing the responses from the mothership cloud. In that case, the terminal shouldn't be worth more than $100 and if the processing is going to the cloud, then people should be paying only for the cloud services. So, everything I've stated in my prior posts and in this one, still stand, and with your rationalizations, you've degraded the iPad and other tablets to just being dumb terminals. It doesn't matter how powerful the device's internals, if they're being used as simple consumption devices and dumb terminals, then they're very overpriced. Requester/server technology has been around for many decades, and dumb terminals have been around even longer, and the huge mainframe processing power has been around for about 4 decades and more. Improving the dumb terminals and the processing power at the remote server site, doesn't change the paradigm, and what you're looking at with the cloud/tablet paradigm, is old technology, except the pieces of hardware involved do the same stuff a bit faster and with better graphics. So, it ends up that, you're trying to justify going back to computing procedures of 30 and 40 years ago, while PCs took that away by being capable of doing the all the processing and the displaying of the information, all in one neat little package. Like I said, the more things change, the more they remain the same. The biggest reason for going back to the old paradigm of remote computing, is so that, the vendors can have more control over everything that a user does, and the more a user depends upon the vendor, the more the vendor can extract in fhe form of money from the user. Neat! No thanks! I'll keep my PC, and I'll continue shopping for less expensive toys that don't lock me in to the vendor's wishes.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

As much or as little as you care to admit it, that 'time share' on mainframes did create noticeable lags--people just learned to accept it. While I will admit that I was unaware of multiple-processor mainframes before about 20 years ago, I still remember how desktop computing blew those mainframes out of the water--for a time--by introducing an early form of distributed computing; each desktop doing the computing for that particular task while sending the results to the file servers. The problem is, that paradigm is now obsolete as we enter the Cloud computing age and quite honestly nobody really knows how that's going to work yet. Each company has its own ideas, but no one concept has become the standard yet as each player tries to do what the others aren't. Tablets will be a part of that paradigm whether you want it or not. As long as you continue to insist that a tablet is only a media consumption device you totally miss the potential. You're talking about putting a 600 hp engine in a lawnmower but I'm talking about an economy car vs a heavy-duty pickup truck. They can do similar things but not to the same scale. That truck can haul as much as ten tons (on a trailer behind it) but when its running light it's an ugly gas hog. That economy car can't haul the weight, but can go much farther on the same amount of fuel. They support each other. Allow me to offer an example. A neighbor of mine drives one of the big-rig car haulers. Now, because he can park that rig in his own yard, he could use it as his 'everyday driver' without too much issue--just drop the trailer. However, he doesn't do that. Instead, he uses a much smaller vehicle instead that is more compact, can go places that big rig can't go and uses far less fuel. No, it's not a pickup truck--he doesn't need that capability--he uses a sporty economy car. By analogy that truck is a desktop PC; the pickup truck is a laptop PC and the economy car is a tablet. They each serve their purposes; they're each capable of similar tasks (hauling people and things to a greater or lesser extent) and they each are capable of things the others aren't. To insist you need that heavy hauler to carry one person around is simply not economically feasible.

adornoe
adornoe

Now, as a mainframe developer, I think that I have a lot more knowledge in that field than you have ever had. While the dumb terminals didn't have real processing power, they didn't need to. Sharing the processing at the mainframe was actually not a problem, especially with massively parallel computers which did the processing. So, the sharing delays weren't really that noticeable, if at all. Computers with multiple processors, some of them with 8 or 16 processors were common, and in a networked environment, the number of processors went into the many thousands, and so, the delays you speak of were not actually a problem. As an example, ATMs were dumb terminals even 30 years ago, but the computing in the background was being done by massively parallel computers where each processor was also super-fast, so the delays in response that you speak of, weren't actually noticed by the end users. 30 years ago, the ideal response time for a request was somewhere at around 3 seconds, which was very tolerable, and 10 years ago, the response time was improved to "instantaneous". Now, a dumb terminal is not necessarily defined by the processor capability that it might contain. A processor which is not utilized to the optimum, might still render the device that it's contained in, as a dumb terminal. That's the equivalent of putting a 600 horsepower engine on a lawnmower. The power might be available, but the device is crippled because of the intended use. You could put a 16 core cpu on a tablet, but if it's intention is to serve as a media consumption device, then it's still not a "computer" with the capabilities that we know define a desktop/laptop/netbook. With Apple's iCloud, it's quite apparent that the iPad will not get much better than just slightly above being a dumb terminal.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

A 'dumb' terminal has absolutely no processing capability of its own. In the old mainframe days, the mainframe did all the computing and each terminal shared clock time with every other terminal. Fast as mainframes were back then, the time-share concept soon ran into limits and lag even on a dedicated system became quite evident. A smart terminal has its own processing capabilities and I can tell you now that a tablet has far more processing capability than the old 8080 and 6502 chips. In fact, it has more processing capability than the old 386 and 68000 processors by far. By no means is a tablet a "dumb" tool. I'm not saying a tablet meets everyone's needs, but it's far more capable than most naysayers want to believe. And that's why the naysayers work so hard to denigrate the tablet; it threatens the established role of the laptop computer. Those naysayers pick up on any perceived limitation to rationalize why a tablet is not a computer--is useless for everyday tasks--when the definition of a computer is as well filled by a tablet as it is by any other form factor machine. Just because YOU can't imagine a use for it doesn't mean uses don't exist. Why else would United Airlines now be issuing 11,000 "Electronic Flight Bags" carrying little more than an Apple iPad to its flight crews?

adornoe
adornoe

and a tablet is a dumb tool, while a desktop/laptop/netbook is a smart tool. A dumb tool can do simple tasks, while a smart tool (robot, PC), can perform many different tasks, and sometimes many tasks at once. The dumb tool that costs as much or more than a smart tool, is not as cost effective, not even close. There is one factor about tablets nowadays that reflects the nuttiness of many who have purchased those devices, and that is that, they're constantly having to justify and rationalize their purchases, because, for the price and for what those gadgets can do, they''re mostly useless. Perhaps when they do "grow up" they'll become cost effective and useful. But, not yet.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I use the analogy as tool for tool, not worker for worker. A worker still needs tools, a robot IS a tool. Even so, somebody has to walk through that plant, checking off numbers of product produced, remaining inventory of parts and other factors. Yes, in some cases a robot can do that as well, but who fixes the fixers? Who maintains those tools? There is always need for a person in coveralls to get down-and-dirty with the product, one way or another. That person needs tools--even if it's only a clipboard. The tablet more efficiently replaces that clipboard than any clamshell device that has to be set down to use.

adornoe
adornoe

not when it comes to tablets vs other computing devices, like netbooks, which are very portable and even more powerful than the "simple" tablets. A better analogy to denote the difference in a work-site, would be in a manufacturing plant, where you might have people using screwdrivers and wrenches and welding torches and other tools, and then comes along a robot which is designed and equipped to handle all of those tasks, and it pays for itself very quickly (less manpower needed). In that case, the highly efficient and powerful robot would be more comparable to a lightweight laptop or netbook, and the wrenches and screwdrivers and other tools would be the equivalent of the tablets. A tablet is equipped to perform very limited tasks, whereas a computing device can perform the task of the tablet and a whole lot more, while costing a lot less than that crippled tablet..

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

How true, the quality of the tool is just as important. Having served as a purchasing agent, I know exactly what you're saying. That said, the tablet offers almost all the same capabilities as a laptop on a construction site in a more convenient, usable package that can be carried from point to point on site in the manner the foreman would have used a clipboard before. So the functionality of the tool verifies the cost of the tool. A purchasing agent needs to find the lowest cost for the best quality that will serve the purpose. Whether that tablet is an Android or an iPad hardly makes any difference when it makes the job more efficient and cost-effective. On the other hand, like those hammers (now pneumatic) and other power tools, they will eventually die one way or another and the cost of replacing those tools has to be taken into consideration on the initial purchase. If you did like one purchasing agent I knew and simply went out to the nearest flea market to buy slip-joint or Channel-Lock-style cheap pliers for the maintenance crew at a manufacturing plant at the lowest possible cost, you'd be replacing that tool after almost every job--not at all cost effective. That plant spent hundreds of dollars a year simply replacing pliers, not even considering other tools used for production itself. When I took over, I replaced all the junk tools as they broke with ones costing more, but by the end of the first year I had already saved the plant over $20,000 in tooling costs just for that one department. As I said, you have to balance the short-term costs with the long-term and a tablet--a good tablet--can offer the balance needed.

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