Tablets such as the Apple iPad might not completely replace desktops and laptops for business but the kinds of devices we use at work will change over the next few years, according to silicon.com's CIO Jury.
Earlier this month, Apple unveiled its iPad 2, the second generation of its tablet device which has generated huge interest in what was until recently a niche form factor.
At the launch of the new hardware, Apple put greater emphasis on potential business uses, with Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff saying: "This device is how we are going to run the future of the enterprise."
But when asked, 'Will tablets replace desktops and laptops for most business users in the next five years?', silicon.com's exclusive CIO Jury wasn't convinced, voting 'no' by a narrow margin of seven to five.
Gavin Whatrup, group IT director at Creston, said: "The tablet is a very good format for media consumption, portability and some kinds of input, but is certainly not a panacea."
He said the tablet format has some fundamental limitations, such as the touch-based input which, while offering advantages for navigation, also has some serious restrictions in what it allows.
"If portability is to remain a primary design factor then screen size will have to remain small, which necessarily restricts scale and therefore what purposes it can be used for." In terms of processing power, unless all PC activity can be SaaS-based, "client processing power will still be required for certain activities, such as AV editing or database processing", Whatrup added.
Gavin Megnauth, director of operations and group IT at Morgan Hunt, said the tablet user experience is enjoyable and there is undeniable "novelty value" surrounding it, but added: "We are already seeing the initial rush of execs bringing their tablets to all meetings and making all their notes on their iPad dissipate and returning to laptops. It's hard to see heavy-duty typists or Excel workers migrating with the absence of a hardware keyboard."
Meanwhile, Andrew Clarke, group IT director at Arcadia, said: "It will certainly be the preferred device for executives but for...
Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.