Tablets have taken the personal gadgets world by storm in the last couple of years. With growing options like Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire, Blackberry Playbook, HP Slate 500, Cisco Cius and Android-based Samsung Galaxy, lots of people have found innovative uses for tablets and as a tool to do their regular tasks on the go without being tethered to a computer.
Restaurants flash their menus to patrons on tablets while hospitals are using them to access patient charts and medical records. But do these tablets have a long term place in the business world? With their price tag, can they prove a real return on the investment? Here we look at some of the pros and cons of buying and using a tablet for business use.
Pros – • Smaller in size, they are almost similar in dimensions to a magazine. And as they are lighter, tablets are portable and can be easily carried around in a handbag or a briefcase.
• They’re great tools for accessing presentations, word documents, surfing the web, checking e-mail on the go, updating Facebook, tweeting, video chatting, playing games, reading digital magazines and books, and enjoying movies and music.
• These devices turn on instantly and tend to last longer on a fully charged battery. The battery life advantage also extends to standby time. If not used for days, they will still have considerable battery left.
• Versatility is another quality that tablets demonstrate with availability of more compatible business-friendly apps. There’s the iWork suite for the iPad, as well as Documents to Go and Quickoffice. Similar options are available for Android-based tablets. Furthermore, storage capacity is not much of an issue anymore thanks to cloud-based services such as Dropbox and iCloud.
Cons – • They may have a durable body, but the touch screen display can be prone to damage if not handled with utmost care.
• For long-hour usage, working on a tablet is inconvenient with typing on the scrunched keyboard. Working long hours on spreadsheets, word documents and presentations on touch screen of a tablet may be cumbersome.
• USB support is almost nonexistent on most tablets. There is only 1 USB port to charge or sync to laptop/computer. There are no other USB ports or additional ports in case you need to plug into your pen drive, camera or printer. You cannot read DVDs or CDs either.
• Multitasking is a feature that most slates fail to provide. It’s difficult to switch between applications and see all of your open apps at once.
• Though tablets have access to lots of apps, they cannot compete with the volume of productivity programs and business software that are installed on laptops. There is no MS Office app yet available, hence full functional apps such as word processing and spreadsheets are major pain points for a tablet.
• Tablets are not very useful without Internet – Same is the case with laptops or desktops. There will always be a need for Wi-Fi or 3G internet connectivity if you plan to check email on the go and download presentations, reports and other documents. This can again increase the amount you spend on the device. The above debate shows that tablets have a lot going for them but they do come with quite a few strings attached to them. Analyse your business needs before you think of investing in a tablet.