Tablets

Poll Results: Is the PC on the way out or is the tablet revolution a crock?

See how your peers answered this question: Is the PC on the way out or is the tablet revolution a crock?

On June 4, 2010, I asked the TechRepublic Windows Blog readers this question:

Is the PC on the way out or is the tablet revolution a crock?

The question stemmed directly from quotes from Steve Jobs, who claimed the era of the PC was at its end, and Steve Ballmer, who said PC sales were strong and growing. I, for one, think there are situations where a tablet device makes sense, just as there are situations where a PC with keyboard and mouse are preferable.

As a follow-up to that poll, on July 9, 2010, I used a Barclays study that suggested tablets would reduce PC sales in 2011, to ask this question:

Will you or your users really give up the keyboard for a tablet PC?

The results from both polls, displayed below, leave little doubt that TechRepublic members reading the Windows Blog do not believe the tablet PC is going to completely displace the keyboard-equipped PC anytime soon. However, being the practical information technology professionals that they are, many believe the tablet PC has its place. In general, the members are living by the general rule that serves them so well in so many ways: Use the right tool for the job.

Have you got an opinion on this topic? Do you believe that the tablet PC is the future and the keyboard is on the way out? Or do you think the declaration that one form of computing device is replacing another is merely speculation and hype that ignores what is really important: getting work done?

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

54 comments
TuneUp Utilities
TuneUp Utilities

I agree with the majority?I can?t see the tablet PC displacing the keyboard PC anytime soon. I can?t imagine sitting at my desk without a keyboard because I find typing on a tablet to be more difficult. However, the keyboard-equipped PC doesn?t match the convenience of a tablet. In the end, I think the question of replacing the keyboard depends on what people are used to. If everyone becomes comfortable with typing on a tablet, then do you think the keyboard may become obsolete?

bobc47
bobc47

The tablet computer has a niche to fill but it's only a niche. The PC will be around for a long time but probably in a smaller form factor.

melias
melias

As long as we are limited to external IO (monitors, keyboards, etc...) PCs or laptops will remain the most used devices. Anything else is to cumbersome for serious data entry, word processing, Excel, database application usage. Which is the great majority of business use. As a help desk technician (about 1/3 of my job) I cannot imagine using anything other than a PC. Nothing other than an external keyboard/mouse/monitor can give me the flexibility and comfort for several hours of computer based support. I am certain it would be the same for other users.

Slayer_
Slayer_

The entire Mac market share thinks the PC is on the way out (5%). But seriously though, I think a tablet might replace netbooks, but not PC's. PC's have already been cut to their minimum, the PC's still in existence, and specific tasks that cannot be done by lesser machines and will keep PC's in existence and will continue to be needed.

dhays
dhays

I agree it can be a supplement, but repalce a regular PC or laptop? Not for me. I can see a use, as suggested, for a warehouseman checking inventory or for an auditor to record answers to questions or any other use where one uses a checklist. It would be an expensive picture frame< if just used for that, or just as a e-book container. I hesitate calling it a reader, as it doesn't do the reading--the user does. If it translated the words to a spoken format, then it could be called a reader.

Rosybum
Rosybum

I love my PC and would not give it up, everything has its place like they say. And the PC will always be best for the homebase people like me.

Darren B - KC
Darren B - KC

I think that today's technology will allow tablet computing to be more commonplace, but as a suppliment to desktops and laptops. There are people that may not want or need a laptop, but yet would like to have something in between the laptop and the desktop that still provides a bigger display than a smart phone for media playback. However, there's hardly any call for the claim that any sort of "revolution" in tablet computing is underway. At BEST, tablet devices will become a new ADDITION to the range of options for consumers, but it will NOT replace the PC by any stretch of the imagination.

SKDTech
SKDTech

Tablets have their uses but as a serious computing device I find them lacking. And I honestly don't see them replacing desktop PCs or laptops anytime soon in most areas of the workforce that currently use them. Will we find them to be solutions to new problems? Inevitably but I suspect that in general they will serve a supplemental role rather than a replacement role.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Have you got an opinion on this topic? Do you believe that tablet PC is the future and the keyboard is on the way out? Or do you think the declaration that one form of computing device is replacing another is merely speculation and hype that ignores what is really important: getting work done?

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

In my case, there is nothing at all convenient about the tablet. Okay, so it's portable... so is my laptop. It's lightweight... so is my laptop. I know enough people for whom typing on a tablet could only ever approach comfortable if the tablet were made bigger. But then if they're going to do that, I might as well stay with my laptop - again. I can close the lid to protect the screen - you can't do that with a tablet. I have an actual keyboard - with actual keys that move when you press down on them. The tablet can't do that. Then there's the fact that the typing surface and the viewing surface on a tablet are in the same plane - I can't see that ever being considered comfortable for typing and viewing at the same time. Tablets have been around for years, but I didn't hear anyone making a fuss over them, or asking people if they would chuck their keyboard for a tablet, until somebody stuck a lowercase 'i' in front of one of them. That iThingy will be a huge hit with everyone who simply must have the latest iThingy. Nevermind they don't have a use for it. Nevermind they're overpriced. Will they find more uses for them? Probably. But even just in the comments here, I don't see very many at all who are even considering replacing their keyboard with a tablet - but if anything, supplementing their keyboarded PC with a tablet, citing only limited usefulness, and in some cases, very limited.

mr_m_sween
mr_m_sween

BobC mentions Form Factors, and this has always been my point in these semi-ludicris discussions. Why would one replace another anything? Each form factor (Desktop, Tablet, Laptop, Smartphone) has within it both pros and cons. As such none of these can hope to replace any other as they would need to keep their pros and limit their cons, which is fundamentally impossible. The lack of a hardware keyboard on a tablet for instance is both a hinderence and a boon, but adding a keyboard means the device is no longer a tablet, it's approaching a netbook/laptop. So yes, this whole thing is a crock, in fact it's worse than a crock, it's marketing.

aroc
aroc

Just looking at your subject that tablets are "a crock" I would not have suspected that your summary is a good deal more analytical, and in line with my thinking. I have an old Fujitsu Stylistic LT-C500 tablet, and found its potential quite intriguing for mobile use, but it is too thick/heavy/hot for any serious use in tablet mode. It makes a nice "intelligent picture frame" in its dock, though. I also have a Fujitsu Lifebook P1610 that works much better in tablet mode for a few uses such as running Delorme Street Atlas in the car, or viewing an ebook, but... it is still a bit heavy and hot. I have also found that handwriting recognition ala Palm Graffiti becomes much more problematic as the screen size increases since I have to rest the side of my hand somewhere as I write, and a bigger screen means I send "stray" signals to the digitizer when it becomes my handrest (probably more of an issue as I am left-handed, and writing left to right makes us lefties write "upside down" so we can see what we are writing as we go). Thus, the PDA sized devices of around 3x5 inches are about as big as is practical for frequent on-screen writing for this reason, IMO. I have played with the iPad a bit in stores, and I find the size appealing visually, and for "fitting" in the hand, but am surprised at how heavy it is for being so thin. It is also somewhat hard to hold easily due to being somewhat slippery and so thin, heavy, and "sharp-edged" - feels like it will cut into my hands/arms, if I don't break it trying to keep its weight under control. As it is, without a separate keyboard and trackpoint/pad/mouse (and non-multitasking OS), I cannot envision using it for much more than consumption of visual material, thus not for any "serious" use. I think my old Stylistic was a nice compromise for screen size, and portability in its custom case that is about the size of an oversize purse (without looking like one for us "manly" types ;-), and its holder for the IR keyboard that configured the Stylistic to work like a clamshell notebook, when opening the case into its "working" position. Now if there was something like that in modern form at about a quarter of the thickness, and running much cooler with more CPU power, RAM, and connectivity options (and a slightly larger keyboard), and the touchscreen as a usable, but not exclusive input option, I could get interested in it as a highly versatile portable device. I am hoping the supposed bunch of Android/ARM tablets coming along will make this a reality. FWIW

Zwort
Zwort

I liked the hx lesson, and you seem to have revived a couple of things that I learned about keypress frequency and key placement. Acronyms.. ..in Usenet they are very popular, or were. Some people take exception to them but, when words take so long to be typed, frequently used phrases can be bashed out faster using acronyms. I would have said that in Usenet no one can hear you scream, but there are typographical equivalents. Your point about flexibility in learning, and how our knowledge changes from dynamic to crystalline as we age is very well put and important; this is a feature of psycho geriatric psychology.

victor.gutzler
victor.gutzler

Apparently I am one of the 5 percent that thinks keyboards (and the PC) are on the way out. Yes, the tablets right this second are too heavy and hot to hold, but the trends I see are only going to make tablet-computing/communicating better: Increasing bandwidth Decreasing size and cost of solid-state memory Increased centralization and maintenance of applications Increased use of "cloud" SaaS applications Downsizing of IT departments Few people seem to be looking at the trend in electronic publishing as well, particularly as it affects public education and students. Do we really expect schools to be providing PCs for every desk in every classroom, or expect students to lug around a notebook computer and type on it? Once the tablet becomes entrenched in the school system, it is only a matter of time before the corporate world migrates to tablets as well....

rld
rld

Every time a new tablet has appeared on the market, I've always *really* wanted it to succeed. But, from the early "Cross" tablets, then the ASUS tablet, etc... they've just never gotten it "right". Tablets will always be well-suited for blue-collar warehouse inventory tasks (e.g. onscreen "checkbox" data input) but they won't ever never replace keyboards & mice, or Blackberries or iPhones. Handwriting Recognition on tablets has never worked "well enough", tablets have never gotten as thin as a piece of paper (but that could come some day), tablets are always just a bit too heavy to carry around... blah, blah, blah. You get my point: Tablets answer a "question" that nobody's "asking". Do tablet manufacturers EVER make any money on these crazy things? I invite you to come back to this blog in, say, 5 years... We'll have a good laugh about how tablet manufacturers NEVER "get it".

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

IMO and FWIW... And not trying to tell anyone anything they don't already know... Simple Physics and Intro to Computers 101 tells us that data is nothing more than 1's and 0's - in the form of tiny little electrical impulses traveling back and forth. The more electrical impulses that travel through a body - specifically the CPU in this case - the hotter that body will get. Now I know there's a lot more to a CPU than just simple physics, but until the brains down in Silicon Valley figure out how to make data travel through the CPU using some other means, the phrases "running much cooler" and "more CPU power" won't be getting used in the same sentence except by people like you and me who just wish it would happen. And now for something completely different... I know the article is about tablets in general, but since the iPad is the new kid on the block, I'm going to pick on them (and because I like picking on Apple). The iPad screams, "Unfriendly!" - typical Apple design. They don't want to be integrated into society, they want to take over society. Their page says their little tiny screen is "perfect" for viewing your favourite movies. Personally, I think a 9 FOOT big-screen TV is a lot closer to perfect than a 9 INCH iPad. Too bad there's no way to connect the iPad to such a TV. Say, does the iPad come with a wall-mounting bracket? And a pair of opera glasses? Then there's its lack of any USB ports, so I can't hook up my portable hard drive containing all my favourite movies so I can watch them on that "perfect" 9 inch screen. Oh, you have to sync it with your desktop computer? That's terrific. I have over 700 movies. How am I supposed to cram all those into 64GB? And there is a keyboard available - if you're an elf. It's not much bigger than the on-screen keyboard, and it sits flat on the desk/table/whatever. I could never get both hands on it at the same time. So much for using it to write a book. What about wireless, you say? Yes, they do offer a wireless keyboard. Either keyboard is $69. Oh, you wanted a numeric keypad, too? Cough up another $60. They also offer their "magic mouse" - "a remarkably better way to interact with your portable devices ? all using gestures." Yeah, I have a couple gestures for it. Near as I can tell, it's a curved touch pad. I hate my flat touch pad enough without adding a curve to it. That's another $69. "But I like my Logitech wireless mouse." Too bad, cuz there still aren't any USB ports to plug the receiver into. OK, yes, I admit it - I am anti-Apple. That's because they persist in their habit of trying to dictate what the consumer wants, instead of listening to what the consumer wants. Making consumers do things your way or no way at all should have gone out with the rotary phone, but Apple just won't let it go. My brother paid $1800 for a Macbook, and now he can't get it to play nice with any of his other equipment. I tried to tell him, no matter what they claim, they just don't get it. Make a list - Quicktime, iTunes, iPod, iPad - they go to great lengths to make their products and software as incompatible as possible with anyone else's products and software. But they've gone one farther with iPad. It doesn't even play nice with other Apple computers and software! For that reason, I don't see the iPad being much more than a glorified picture frame, and I don't see anyone in this house being foolish enough to buy one. I have a lot more hope for the upcoming tablets from other manufacturers, because they try to make their products and software usable by a broader array of people. Maybe then we'll see a little more integration and usefulness.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

The trends you mention for improving tablets will also apply to notebooks. There are already notebooks that are nearly as lightweight as tablets, while including a real keyboard and even with the added weight of a real hard drive. Mind you, I have nothing against the SSD, but I have yet to see them available larger than 320GB - and the iPad is limited to 64GB. As for your question "Do we really expect schools to be providing PCs for every desk in every classroom..." No, I don't expect schools to provide PCs, nor do I expect them to provide notebooks, nor do I expect them to provide tablets. Of the three formats, the desktop PC is the least expensive, even though it is the most bulky. That added bulk also makes it the least likely to be stolen by students. Many high school students already have notebooks they "lug" around, but they don't think it's an inconvenience. I would have loved to have had a notebook back when I was in school - the TRS-80 Model 3 was just too big to fit in my backpack. If the schools were to provide computers - even tablets - for each student, they would also have to pay for any maintenance on them. And if they were to make them a requirement for every student, that's a little different from requiring notebook paper and #2 pencils - they would have to pay for them. A lot of families, even in well-to-do schools, can barely afford to keep clothes and shoes on their children. Requiring them to buy even one computer would undoubtedly result in many of them simply pulling their students out of school. Tablets will have to get a lot cheaper, and a lot more powerful, with a lot more on-board storage (not to mention adding a USB port or two, eh, Apple?), before they can become, as you say, "entrenched in the school system."

Zwort
Zwort

Since speech-> text solutions have reached an impasse, there is a problem, as tablet solutions do not present with a properly tactile keyboard. There are intermediate solutions for, e.g., palmtops, but there will always be a problem for people like me who touch type at between 100 and 120 wpm. I don't want to piss about with a fancy screen, projected keyboard, or fold out keyboards which do not present with the essential tactile feedback on position and information about successful keypresses. Sure, auditory feedback from a machine about the latter is possible, but never tactile data about the location of fingers in relation to a keyboard, leading to high speed transmission of data from this CPU to the slave in front of me. These things will be useful for carrying around in some circumstances. They may make excellent document readers and will be useful for some forms of communication, but I cannot see them usurping the position of keyboard machines for the reasons that I've outlined.

djed
djed

If the things on your list happen for tablets, they will also happen for notebooks. How would losing a keyboard make any difference? As to downsizing of IT, with more appliances of either type in the organization, why would you cut staff? Tablets haven't been made bulletproof so far as I know. Like 90-95% of users, my job requires fast, comfortable typing. The touchscreen is not that. Fix that problem and you might convert me.

aroc
aroc

I was just pointing out that your invocation of the limitations of physics needs to account for the continuing increases in CPU efficiency that have yielded more processing performance at lower energy consumption levels, and thus less "heat/power-used per MIP" as it were - an effect of Moore's Law as I understand it. Thus, I do not think the physics factor is such a limitation on the usefulness of the tablet form factor - vertical market/niche applications have been using earlier, less efficient tablets for years. They have just not been so prominent, or viewed as useful for general computing, although I have dabbled in these older tablets for some years in seeking my personal "Holy Grail" of ultra portable computing in PDA's, Handheld PC's (Jornada 6xx/72x, NEC MobilePro 7x0/900), Thinkpad X series, Fujitsu Lifebook/Stylistic, OLPC XO, Celio Redfly, etc. I am a Don Quixote of ultraportable computing, and it keeps me occupied with all those little personal experiments, but they keep showing me the limitations of the concept, despite my fondest hopes - I still have a tower system and full keyboard/mouse/monitor for a notebook (Lifebook P5020 - hate the touchpad) for everyday use ;-) So I have a lot of experiences that validate the ergonomic issues you pointed out. Look at some of my posts above for my take on those.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

I realize there's more involved than just simple physics. More efficient conductors and more effective cooling systems do improve speed without necessarily increasing operating temperature, but there is a limit to what can be improved upon. I can't say whether they're anywhere near that limit, since I am not an engineer, but the limit exists, nonetheless. And of course, any improvements to CPU speed and operating temperature will also relate to notebooks and desktops, so the original question posed in the article remains. And my answer remains, as well. There are too many cases where the tablet format is just counterproductive... too many settings that call for extensive text input, making the conventional keyboard a necessity - think authoring and publishing... too many situations for which a miniscule 9 inch screen is completely impractical - drafting, for example. So while the tablet may be gaining presence because of improvements to its design and function, the conventional PC - whether desktop or notebook - is definitely not on its way out.

aroc
aroc

Do not neglect the fact that smaller form factor CPU's with denser circuitry runnning at lower voltages with less resistive component materials are leveraging another aspect of physics in reducing energy consumption while increasing processing power. My Fujitsu P1610 with 1.2 Ghz Core Solo CPU is not running any hotter (maybe even a bit cooler to my subjective touch) than my older Fujitsu Stylistic C-500 with it 500 MhZ Celeron, but it definitely runs faster.

aroc
aroc

And many found them to be more hindrance than help. Issues included logistics of support - kids are rough on physical objects, and electronics don't take that well. "Social networking" - one more way to waste time chatting, although the cell phones are now sophisticated enough to be preferable for the kids to stay with those for all their social "needs". Hacking - huge problem with the "best and the brightest" for getting themselves and everyone else into trouble. And then there was the Lower Merion, PA district's allged spying on the students by the school system. Fuggeddaboutit - the schools are. I do see a case at the college level for a well-designed program that incorporates PC technology (in whatever form - tabplet/netbook/smartphone, etc), and including it in the tuition, but even the professors are not all on board with that where they are not comfortable with the tech, or know it so well, that they make the conscious decision to keep it out of their classrooms when they consider the negatives (such as the distraction factor) to outweigh the positives.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

But again, why waste money on tablets when a notebook is more affordable, with a keyboard, more power, more storage, and more connectivity, as well as being more durable than a tablet? As for e-books - that would be fantastic. Kids could carry little more than their laptops back and forth to school. And there would presumably be a cut in the cost of the books. I know of a 4-volume manual that costs $450 for the printed copy, and only $20 for the CD. Add to that the savings of getting volume licensing for desktop publishing software, and they could re-open some of these schools that have been forced to close over the course of the past couple years.

Zwort
Zwort

Aye there is something to be said for that. I've been arguing the point with a PC freak author friend of mine, who's also a teacher. He likes paper. Some kind of bizarre obsession maybe. I send him links and jpegs of fancy e-readers to wind him up, but he is resolutely a Luddite. Lately I've taken to winding him up by extolling the virtues of Apple's i thing. He don't like it, green or not. :-)

d.j.elliott
d.j.elliott

You are 100% right I am so tired of paying as much for textbooks as for the tuition at my local community college Remember when colleges had the whole freshman class buy a computer? Computer makers worked closely with colleges--I'd love to see a college do the same with tablets. Would anyone miss the cost and weight of hard copy books? How would textbooks change in a digital world?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If they'd beat the textbook publishers into abandoning the dead tree format, they could go to e-books and afford tablets with the savings on the summertime storage alone. They'd save even more not having to manage the turn-over of new editions every few years (not to mention the shipping charges).

Ocie3
Ocie3

is the result of repetitive motion carried out in a stressful position. In my experience, data entry via a touch screen, or a visually-displayed keyboard, is simply not feasible. It is considerably faster to do with a keyboard. (At least they don't use keypunch machines and Hollerith cards any more.) Keyboards such as the Kinesis Maxim, which I use, can be physically configured to suit the user's needs with respect to positioning their hand(s). They make it possible to use the keys without stressing the wrists and hands. The Microsoft Natural keyboard and its cousins are another way to avoid or reduce problems, too, but they are also more expensive, in my opinion, than they should be. Using a touch screen, or a visually-displayed keyboard, is generally rather slow. It seems best if the tablet is mounted vertically on a wall or a stand, and the user can stand directly in front of it to manipulate the display with touch and gestures. Doing that with the tablet horizontal is noticeably more strain on the shoulders and maybe the wrist, as well as slower.

sserwe
sserwe

Not to mention the fact that Tablet PC's will likely never have the amount of system and video processing power that a PC can have. You won't be playing games like Crysis and Bioshock 2 on a tablet because it won't be able to handle it. Not for quite a long time at least. Also, games are continually becoming more demanding on a system. Tablets will always be behind a PC in terms of performance. And who the hell wants to play video games on a 10 inch screen?

Slayer_
Slayer_

Looks just like a desktop PC! Why not, cell phones have gone full circle. First talking, then texting, now you talk to your phone and it types text, sends it and the other persons phone reads the text to you. Bell is rolling in his grave yelling "YOU IDIOTS ITS A PHONE, TALK TO EACH OTHER!"

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't see it making any difference with CT, at least not for typists. Assuming someone can figure out where his fingers are without actively watching them, the typing motions should remain the roughly the same. Mousing and cursor control? Depending on how the screen is positioned, an individual user may see a decrease in CT strain but an increase in repetitive injury to other areas. I could see back and neck strain from hunching over a poorly positioned system. New fields of research for the ergonomic experts.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I vote make worse, but what do you think touch screens will do to us?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Using a finger or stylus will block your view of at least part of the screen. Mice and all the other devices you list don't obstruct the player's vision. Those devices also don't require as much muscle effort to operate as constantly reaching up to the screen. Overlooking the need of many of us to drop some weight, directly maneuvering the cursor will get tiring quickly, resulting in poor play.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Also, how is the delay? Anything more than 10ms is too much.

victor.gutzler
victor.gutzler

I do not see much advantage of a mouse (which forces the user to remotely navigate a pointer on the screen) over a finger or stylus (just touch the screen!) or a keyboard (manipulating a cursor using a combination of keys) over a finger or stylus (again, just touch the screen!). I would prefer physically touching the screen versus using a separate device to do it for me. Of course, if gaming involves steering wheels, gas pedals, gun triggers, golf clubs, etc..., then the PC is no better than a tablet; you'll still need a separate device to simulate the particular action.

bergenfx
bergenfx

Edited: I misplaced this post. It belonged one step down. I reposted it there. I see that you are making the point that it was a balancing (optimization) act to get a keyboard layout that facilitated the fastest typing, with the fewest key jams, (kind of like shooting for the highest wpm / key jams pm or something like that). But I think that Palmetto had the spirit of the thing right. It was easy to design a faster keyboard. The main challenge was to reduce key jams. Consider why in qwerty the keys "d" through "l" are in alphabetic sequence with the vowels moved up to the upper level, and "a" placed in the weak little finger position. The big one they missed in my opinion is the placement of "t" and "h." I probably had a 90% key jam rate on "th" when I was learning typing back when typewriters were made of granite. Think (there is one, (oops there is another, (and two more))) of all the (yet another) words with (and another, etc) that (etc) letter combination.

bergenfx
bergenfx

I see that you are making the point that it was a balancing (optimization) act to get a keyboard layout that facilitated the fastest typing, with the fewest key jams, (kind of like shooting for the highest wpm / key jams pm or something like that). But I think that Palmetto had the spirit of the thing right. It was easy to design a faster keyboard. The main challenge was to reduce key jams. Consider why in qwerty the keys "d" through "l" are in alphabetic sequence with the vowels moved up to the upper level, and "a" placed in the weak little finger position. The big one they missed in my opinion is the placement of "t" and "h." I probably had a 90% key jam rate on "th" when I was learning typing back when typewriters were made of granite. Think (there is one, (oops there is another, (and two more))) of all the (yet another) words with (and another, etc) that (etc) letter combination.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

Are you both just making this up as you go? [i]"gave no thought as to the optimum layout for the keyboard letters" "gave plenty of thought to the LEAST optimal layout ON PURPOSE"[/i] You're both mistaken. QWERTY was not designed by only one person, like Dvorak. It was designed and changed by many people over several years, to arrive at the most efficient - not faster or slower - layout for typewriters. It carried over into the computer world initially because at the introduction of computers, most users had to use both the computer and a typewriter, so having only one keyboard layout was the best way for the users to remain efficient. QWERTY is a design that combined the original typewriter layout, which was simply all of the numbers and letters laid out in order, with moving some of the keys to put more commonly used letter combinations on different areas of the keyboard to avoid jamming. The initial QWERTY design, however, proved awkward and difficult to use because the most commonly used letters were placed so far apart, so it was modified to put the most commonly used letters on the home row, and nearer the stronger fingers, while still avoiding jamming. That is why the Q, W, Z, and X are where they are - since most people are right handed, those letters are placed nearest the left pinky finger, above and below the home row. [i]"IIRC, about four to six weeks of training is sufficient to re-train a proficient typist to use the Dvorak layout instead of Qwerty."[/i] Four to six weeks? Even if it is only that long, for a small to medium business of 100 employees, assuming that all 100 of them are, as you say, "proficient," that's 400 to 600 weeks of training time! That's 16 to 24 [b]thousand[/b] man-hours of training time. Even if the average salary of those employees is only $10 per hour, that's 160 to 240 thousand dollars! And that's for the hours of training alone. Then there's the cost of purchasing training materials (or sending their employees to be trained) and new hardware for everybody. While the advantage of switching to Dvorak is debatable (obviously, since we're debating it now), whatever cost there may be due to the inefficiency of QWERTY is spread out over the life of a company, whereas the cost of switching would be a huge expense all at once. [i]"Learning one does not interfere with their skill at using the other."[/i] Actually, it does. And the older they are, the more interference there is, because the brain becomes less "absorbent" as we age, guaranteeing loss of speed and increased errors - and not just initially, but perpetually. If they were to teach both systems in schools, students might more easily become proficient at both, but teachers are having a hard enough time getting their students to learn proper English spelling and grammar, students instead learning words like FWIW, AFAIK, and IIRC, while many still have no idea the usage for their, there, and they're, or to, too, and two, and have no idea what subjunctive mood is, or how to use it.

Ocie3
Ocie3

[i]".... Unfortunately, no definitive explanation for the QWERTY keyboard has been found, and typewriter aficionados continue to debate the issue."[/i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typewriter#History But I suppose that you can always assert your authority and revise history, at least on Wikipedia. ;-)

bergenfx
bergenfx

I think Palmetto definitely has you on this. I'll let you do your own research, but it has always seemed to me a matter of historical record and not competing theories. By the way a quite possible reason for

santeewelding
santeewelding

This is right down my alley. My brain keys are jamming. What are you doing? AFAIK IIRC FWIW Do you realize how out-of-place those crap initialisms appear in your sedate prose? Stop it.

Ocie3
Ocie3

FWIW, I've read both explanations as to why the Qwerty keyboard is the one that "everyone" uses, and I tend to favor the one that I asserted in my remarks. Of course, I have had two or more of the "hammers" jam when they happened to be pressed almost simultaneously while I was typing and, as slow as I am, it doesn't seem that speed really matters. It's the [b][i]rhythm[/i][/b]. AFAIK, the Dvorak layout was originally implemented on typewriters which had the "hammer" keys. I don't recall any difference was reported with respect to hammer jams. If a typist can create and sustain a staccato [i]rhythm[/i] then they can type 60+ WPM with very few errors and without hammer jams on any keyboard layout. Somewhere I read that the fastest typist known to Guinness was a man who could type 250 WPM, although I don't know which keyboard layout was on the typewriter that he used, or whether the typewriter had the original hammers instead of a spinning ball which moves instead of the paper carriage, [i]e.g.,[/i] the IBM Selectric.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"The man who invented the typewriter gave no thought as to the optimum layout for the keyboard letters, digits, and symbols,..." Actually, the inventor gave plenty of thought to the LEAST optimal layout ON PURPOSE. The problem with early typewriters was that those using them quickly became so proficient that the hammers were jamming against each other. A descending hammer returning to the bank would catch on ascending one headed toward the ribbon. The QWERTY arrangement was developed to make it HARDER for users to type quickly. By slowing down the keystroke speed, jams and the time lost fixing them were reduced and the average speed improved. Obviously, with the elimination of physical hammers, there's no need to continue the QWERTY format. Like so many other things, it continues on sheer inertia. If you use only one computer and no one else uses it, learning the DVORAK format would improve your speed. Those of us who support multiple systems used by others are stuck in the 1920s.

Ocie3
Ocie3

The first job of an engineer is to make it work. That is why the QWERTY keyboard layout is as it is. The man who invented the typewriter gave no thought as to the optimum layout for the keyboard letters, digits, and symbols, as his overriding concern was to implement his inspiration in hardware, an invention that he could patent. The Dvorak keyboard, named after its creator, was the result of the scientific analysis of letter frequencies in "business correspondence", which was what the vast majority of typewriters at the time were used to write. IIRC, about four to six weeks of training is sufficient to re-train a proficient typist to use the Dvorak layout instead of Qwerty. AFAIK, a typist can be proficient with both layouts. Learning one does not interfere with their skill at using the other. But if they do switch often, it will take some time to acquire the ability to switch quickly from one to the other without some initial loss of speed and, perhaps, increased errors.

Zwort
Zwort

[Maximum msg level reach at the level of your other msg. I wish this were Usenet] I think that the reason why industry wide rejection is likely is due to more than the observation by Kuhn that theories do not die, only their proponents; this is very close to hard wiring in the CNS. Once something as complex as a keyboard layout is learned, especially to high speeds, then it is going to be worse then swapping from shift change to automatic and vice versa. When new memories are laid down in the brain they are potentiated, in the form of new proteins. Constant rehearsal of linked memories and their permutations must have to extend on this, by Grabthar's hammer. ;-) As to having the vowels under one hand, I find that the distribution under qwerty gives me a dynamic from which I can build up an extremely good rhythm. I think the only thing limiting me is finding the correct choice of words. I never write anything down first, but do the edits either in a text editor or in a document itself. I won't tell you how long I've been touch typing. It's embarrassing. :-)

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

To try to change the qwerty layout is to fight nearly the entire industry, many of whom view the Dvorak devotees as eccentrics, and they have no desire to change what has been the norm for nearly 100 years. They're not as interested in the benefits of switching, as they are the immediate costs involved. Then any businesses who did decide to change would incur the expense of replacing hardware, as well as retraining its personnel in using the new equipment. No matter how much better it may be, I just don't see a major change coming anytime soon.

aroc
aroc

I have read several studies comparing speeds of experienced qwerty vs Dvorak typists and the Dvorak'ers win by large margins as I recall (google it - I am vacationing, and just responding ad hoc, but that is my recollection). Think about it: the 5 vowels all together in the middle row under your left hand, and the most commonly used consonants on the rest of the row - has to be faster (once the muscle memory locks it in - actually might make onscreen keyboards more effective now that I think about it). It is painfully obvious with thumbboards as I find myself "reaching" so much to the top row for "e", "i", "o" and "t'. I sort of wish I had stayed with my experiment in the conversion, but changing keyboards on different workstations and notebooks made it too much for my attention span I guess ... P.S.: I agree with awgiedawgie's following post about why Dvorak ain't gonna happen, just regretting that ugly reality...

Zwort
Zwort

Perhaps this is me, but I cannot imagine any other layout than qwerty. True I touch type at speeds of up to 120wpm and my conditioning is about as close to hard wiring as is possible, but I am not alone. Why has the Dvorak keyboard not caught on? It's supposed to reduce finger movements and thus (presumably) reduce errata an increase speed, but the layout strikes me as odd. Has this been empirically assessed, replicated and statistical significance achieved in support of an argument to adopt it instead of qwerty?

aroc
aroc

Anything more than basic system functions requires customization, and people who can do that and support it going forward. Most organizations, despite their intense efforts, find business reasons to go beyond off-the-shelf solutions in one regard or another to the extent they are willing to pay for it. The "custodian" will also need some "systems training" for the times the hardware goes out (it all does eventually) to diagnose which piece needs service or replacement. You apparently do not understand the meaning of "touch typing" - it means "muscle memory" of keys' locations by touch, and back in the old days of typewriter typing classes we learned on typewriters with no legends on the key tops - touch was the only option. I have used that tactile knowledge (with cheating-by-peaking for the special characters) for 45 years. How can that be accommodated with onscreen keyboards? I have used several, and it definitely is a slowdown to have keep seeing where your fingers are. I do agree with the need to do away with the qwerty layout, and I even started getting up to speed with a Dvorak layout some years ago - definitely less movement and more speed benefits, but I kept "landing"on other keyboards with the old-fashioned layout,so gave up. There was a huge opportunity to break the mold with thumbboards on all the tiny new devices with physical keyboards since our thumbs had to "learn"a new muscle memory pattern anyway, but that moment has passed without being exploited, and now everyone is "used" to the same hindering pattern as with full-sized keyboards. So much for "innovation" - AAARRRGGGHHHH!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Why pay for database and network administrators ... why not have it provide the database hardware, configuration, and maintenance as well?" All that does is shift the costs from paying for those services in house to paying a third party for them. If the vendor is sharp he'll hire the admins you let go, since they're already familiar with the systems. But you get the added benefit of having to go through a third party whenever you want to request something. "The end users simply connect with their personal tablets..." This may come as a shock, but I know plenty of people who can't afford multiple computers. I know plenty more who don't want to drag one back and forth to work every day. Let me know how that janitor does cleaning up that malware-infected personal system. Also, let me know how that user works when Geek Squad has it for a week.

victor.gutzler
victor.gutzler

Keyboards (with buttons) will always add bulk to the notebook, making it harder to carry, fit in a bag, or balance on your lap. Why pay for database and network administrators when using the same software and similar data structures and processes as every other business? For example, Lawson Accounting already provides the software as a service, so why not have it provide the database hardware, configuration, and maintenance as well? The end users simply connect with their personal tablets via internet using encrypted data protocols and the network is maintained by the building's custodian along with the light switches and urinals (note higher pay for custodians, even lower respect for network technicians). Typing has never been that comfortable for me even with a keyboard. I have to use an adjustable tray with a wrist pad and still have to take multiple breaks to avoid carpal tunnel symptoms. Touch typing without buttons may lack the tactile sensation of pressing a button, but that is just what we are used to. People used to be accustomed to dialing a phone, then keying it with tones. Touch typing on a tablet will not take any more getting use to. Besides, tablet typing may finally break the QWERTY arrangement of letters built for two hands in favor of a new arrangement built for typing with one hand....

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