Mobility

Do giant tablets have a place in business?

There's a new form factor arriving on the tablet space and Jack Wallen believes it could be the next evolution for the desktop PC.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Lately I've seen a lot of over-sized tablets prepping to trick their way into the market. These are tablets with screens all the way up to 27 inches (such as the Lenovo YOGA Home...which is actually a special convertible that can switch between desktop and tablet mode).

When I first pondered the idea of these devices, I thought certainly they were destined for failure. A 27 inch tablet is far less than portable and tablet sales are already reaching record lows. No one wants to lug something that size around from meeting to meeting and it's heft would defeat any possible path to mobility it could offer. Add to that, most of the media are at odds with exactly what purpose these devices could possibly serve. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone saying these over-sized tablets were good for nothing more than consuming media.

After much consideration, I've decided those early conclusions are very, very wrong. To prove that point, I would ask you to consider just about any given sci-fi movie (or television show) set in the future...especially those that take place in space.

Picture this: A commander and his officers gathered around a table, discussing tactics for escaping a rather treacherous situation. The commander taps the top of the table to open a screen displaying their ship and the surrounding "big bad". Based on the information displayed before the crew, they can map out a course of action (each crew member interacting with the screen to help with the grand SOS).

Now, imagine you're in a meeting with your staff. On the table before you is a Lenovo YOGA Home displaying a new network layout. You (or anyone) can tap and edit the pieces that comprise the network; no need for a white board, no need to manage that meeting with a laptop projected onto a screen. Instead of one person being able to interact with the displayed information, many can do so.

But these devices shouldn't be considered just for meetings. I've held very strongly to the idea that the touchscreen desktop was a complete waste of ergonomics. By constantly reaching out toward the screen, your shoulders run the risk of fatigue. And for graphic designers, that position simply doesn't work. What if, however, that touchscreen desktop laid flat in front of you? All of a sudden, your literal desktop has become an interactive surface. To up the ante even further, devices like the YOGA Home have a built in battery; so you could move that "desktop" from location to location (even though the purported battery life is a scant 3 hours). From a seated desk, to a meeting room, to a standing desktop, to another location altogether, the Home could easily become the device for transitioning between meetings and work and back again.

There is one factor to these devices that will keep them from being as mobile as you might like. Weight. The YOGA Home tips the scales at nearly 17 pounds. Remember, however, that's a 27 inch screen. You could go for the much "smaller" device (such as the Samsung Galaxy View Tablet which has yet to have a confirmed weight, but it will be significantly less than the YOGA) and enjoy a level of portability the more massive devices won't have. However, even at 17 pounds, you could still easily move the YOGA Home about.

Even with the weight, these over-sized tablets could easily serve a much grander purpose than the simple viewing of multimedia. We're effectively talking about a portable, standard sized monitor with a built in platform capable of getting real work done in almost any configuration. This could be a boon for those who want the convenience of a tablet, but feel hindered by the small screens.

I firmly believe these over-sized tablets are the next step in PC evolution. This is especially important considering how sharply tablet sales have dropped. This new form factor will finally bring the tablet and touchscreen interface to a usable form on the desktop and even add a level of mobility to the "desktop" mix.

What do you think about these "Destablets"? Are they the "next step" or will they wind up fading into irrelevance faster than you can say "convergence"?

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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