Tablets

The great tablet flood of 2011: Are you ready?

Tablets are everywhere at CES 2011. How will your IT department navigate the coming flood of tablet devices?

If 3D television was the theme of last year's Consumer Electronics Show, tablets seem to be the central theme of CES 2011. I've seen dozens of new tablets from major hardware vendors such as Acer, Asus, Motorola, and Toshiba, and also from relative unknowns in the US, such as Hanvon.

Hanvon HPad A116 tabletMany are running Android. Some are running Windows 7. And, I've seen others that can dual boot both.

And while I'm glad to see competition in the tablet space, I can't help but wonder if IT departments are ready for this flood of new devices. If your organization already supports Android devices, will you support any tablet that runs Android--at least the software running on it? Will you try to standardize around a single manufacturer, wireless carrier, or operating system? Will you just say "no"?

Let me know what you think by taking the following quick polls and in the discussion thread below.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

18 comments
francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

I've always been fond of Toys 'n Gadgets (this is how I stumbled in the IT world almost 30 years ago). But I have also learned to distinguish really useful stuff from (money making) hypes. Tablets, Netbooks and many Smartphones are just that. You don't really need them, but you love to have one!... The question to ask is: do I really need this (you might in some rare occasions) and is it really going to improve my efficiency? In this case, I'll at least wait for those upcoming Netbooks with revolving screen which can be used as a portable PC, a Tablet and a Smartphone altogether. And the screen is bigger, the processor is more powerful, you can really type on it (if you need to) and it runs Win 7 (software -even free - galore and the ones you are familiar with), so you are not tied to just one supplier or Apps (goes for accessories as well). USB, WiFi, Bluetooth and much more will also be aboard. Being retired, I don't really need one of those but that's the kind of toy I might like to have and... use, taking me back where it all started for me. In my very early IT days I became befriended with two guys who like me had a purpose but eventually never used their computer to achieve it. But like me they became IT guys, completely changing the course of their careers...

pjboyles
pjboyles

Can they do everything a laptop or desktop does? Do they run the business applications? Do they cost the same as a laptop? Can they _REPLACE_ the laptop? One thing in the current state of the economy here is NO incremental costs and no toys. So I doubt many additional Tablets PCs are coming here. They just do not provide the functionality nor are the ones that can at cost parity. Will there be a few? Yes. There are always a few of anything but I expect less of these. 53k laptops / desktop and 2k Tablet PCs (convertables).

bseacrist
bseacrist

I remember the pads used in the original Star Trek show. If Roddenberry thought they were a good idea, that's good enough for me.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

Most bloggers here are FAR too young to remember all of the hype about Comet Kohoutek, which was going to light our skies brighter than anything man had ever seen. Then came reality. It was a fizzle, just another little bright spot in the sky. Nothing more. I wonder if history is preparing to repeat itself?

yunwahchin
yunwahchin

Yes. Personally, I am ready. I have been using a Tablet PC (Fujitsu) for 8 years using WinXP. Very ancient but still working extremely slowly. Things like iPad, Toshiba AS100 or Samsung Galaxy Tab is a DREAM comes true.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Tablets are everywhere at CES 2011. How will your IT department navigate the coming flood of tablet devices? Will you standardize around an OS or hardware vendor? Will you just say "no"? Take take the quick polls in the original post, and let me know: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=2297

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"If 3D television was the theme of last year?s Consumer Electronics Show, tablets seem to be the central theme of CES 2011." And we've all seen how rapidly stores are selling those 3D sets, haven't we? Let's remember, the 'C' in 'CES' is 'consumer'. That doesn't mean these systems are 'corporate grade'.

user support
user support

Family has been using a Toshiba brand Windows XP Tablet PC for writing, drawing, finances, taxes, school reports. It has a profile for parents and children. Just purchased a Coby Kyros MID7015 Android 2.1 OS device which is great for reading email, browsing internet sites and showing off photos of the family. Would like to see the price of Apple's iPad come down to about $300. Only law enforcement employees of our organization want tablet pc's so that they can write notes out of the office to be transferred to type written notes later. IT shop only considers tablets on a case by case basis probably because it would be too difficult to support.

T3CHN0M4NC3R
T3CHN0M4NC3R

Actually when being asked if your company is ready, they actually mean is your company ready to support or develop apps that tablets use.

sholbrook
sholbrook

We've taken the stance of supporting Good for Enterprise, but not the HW or OS. We're a very large Blackberry environment, but folks have hammered us for iPhone and Droid support so we have installed Good servers and have brought in iPhone and some Droid devices for those who want them, but they will lose their BB account on the BES. With tablets, we've allowed the iPad thus far, but will likely also allow Android devices. Unlike with Smartphones, if someone wants a to install Good on a tablet, their BB account remains active. Nobody can have Good on more than a single device. There are no plans to have tablet replace the laptop, only to provide our staff more flexibility with their business PIM.

RobD.
RobD.

What about pitching tablets as a repalcement for company-provided Smartphones? At around $200 to purchase and $80 per month the total cost of ownership for a Smartphone can run into the thousands. For staff that only need access to email, calendar, the occasional document, presentation or meeting notes, a tablet is a logical and potentially cheaper tool.

rclark
rclark

There are things that tablets do that laptops can not. And there are things that laptops/desktops do that tablets can not. The point is not to duplicate the experience of one on the other. The point is to increase productivity of the user or enhance the user experience. Functions of tablets that the others lack: Instant on. If you are primarily engaged in a non-computer activity, but use the computer as a critical brain aid, then you need instant on. You also want it to maintain state. Tablets by in large do this. Pen input. This one is a little harder as lots of the newer devices use only capacitive touch. That is useless for fine control, but is ok for signatures and gestures. Are you in need of either of these capabilities in any of your areas of use? If so, a case can be made for tablets. Otherwise, they do email, instant paging, communications, and geo-locations better than laptops, and they do it with a screen more usable than a smart phone and without the whole pocket dialing problem. On the other hand, they are not as easy to carry, they have finger print smudge problems, they frequently are battery challenged, and they have real problems with one meter vertical stops. Currently deployed systems are not compatible, so you need a terminal server or such and the UI does not necessarily respond well without a mouse. So, add up the pluses and take out the minuses, and make a decision. In my case, it is a yes, but thats just me. Others feel that is an intrusion, and I get that.

francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

Oldbaritone is right: they are also Kohouteks to me, the difference being that since marketing created an hype, they do sell and that Comet didn't! But are they really doing a good job? Question: have you already come across any good and affordable (and supportable) 3D TV sets? That's your answer, I think...

francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

Maybe your law people could read my earlier comment. If it's portability they are after, any netbook (starting at $200) would do (and they are easy to support) and the upcoming netbook/tablet combo would fit them all...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If Johnathan is like me "I'm ready" equates to "the company I support is ready". After eight years hands on, he's probably got enough experience to know what is involved with supporting tablet form factors. For me, direct experience with "what if" setups on my own network is directly related to being able to support similar setups for others. I wouldn't claim to be ready to support Iphones for a company if I had no direct experience with the device on my own. The Hands On imperative in action.

Randy Hagan
Randy Hagan

... for many of us, who run one- to 10-employee businesses, buying one or two tablets could outfit the company.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Both of you have tablet related experience to draw on even if the interface has changed. I'd say your both ahead of folks who have no experience with tablet form factors. When the latest tablet test units show up, you'd both have a series of "oh.. this is just like the older ones" type recognitions. My own experience comes from the PDA form factor. With years of using several of the mobile devices, I remember seeing the Treo devices and having a pretty solid grasp of what they did well and where the hangups would probably show through. My grief in the first response was more with slamming a support tech and dismissing relevant experience simply because it didn't explicitly specify "in a business role".

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Jonathon says he's been supporting XP on eight-year-old Fujitsus. I've been supporting XP on six-year-old Toshibas. I submit neither of us is ready to support hardware, OS, or apps for any of the new, touch-interface, non-Windows systems. These machines and non-W OSs are different enough critters that XP tablet experience isn't going to provide a suitable background. But since we have no plans to deploy any of these and don't allow privately owned equipment, it's not on my radar.