Tablet PCs begin slow rollout
Early users give the pen input systems a thumbs up for some applications, but widespread adoption is still years away.
Computerworld - When Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP Tablet Edition officially launches Nov. 7, several notebook computer manufacturers plan to introduce the first Tablet PCs. Early corporate beta testers are giving these devices - and the technology - mostly positive reviews.
Users say they like the basic idea behind Tablet PCs: Using the Tablet Edition's Journal applet or other applications, users can write words with an electromagnetic digitizer pen on a specially adapted LCD screen that acts as a writing surface. The system can then either store the note in a format called "digital ink" or convert it into an ASCII text file.
For at least one user, the operating system's ability to convert handwriting to text is superfluous. About 20 attorneys are testing Tablet PCs at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, a 2,400-member law firm in New York. They're using the Tablet Edition's Journal applet principally to annotate Microsoft Word documents with handwritten notations, says CIO James McGinnis.
Motion Computing's M1200
McGinnis was sufficiently impressed that, as the law firm retires nearly 1,500 laptops, he plans to replace them with Tablet PCs.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges has tested Taipei, Taiwan-based Acer Inc.'s TravelMate 100, a notebook PC that a user can convert to a tablet device by swiveling and folding the display down over the keyboard .
But McGinnis says he's more impressed with native tablet designs such as the 12-in. screen tablet by Motion Computing Inc., an Austin, Texas-based company whose founders include former Dell Computer Corp. executives.
Easy to Use
General Motors Corp. Chief Technology Officer Tony Scott has also tested the Acer machine and another unit from Hewlett-Packard Co. and has used digital ink within Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint files. He says it's "very functional and usable," both for managers inside the firewall and for field service workers.
Scott says the handwriting conversion works well, but he would like to see brighter screens and an increase in battery life from the current three or four hours to at least six. He adds that he's also concerned about the storage requirements for digital ink image files, which need more space than corresponding ASCII text files.
Analysts are voicing other concerns about the product.
For example, Ken Dulaney at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., says that tablet devices will createadded costs for corporations that must support the new digital ink images. That, he says, "will limit adoption to a selected few."
Dulaney predicts that only 3% of all notebooks purchased by the end of 2004 will be Tablet PC-enabled laptops. He adds that a broader commitment by vendors is necessary to spur adoption, pointing out that both Dell and IBM "now sit on the sidelines."
Read more about Mobile/Wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Mobile Applications Case Study: 8 Billion Transactions a Day The story documents how the online brokerage company tradeMONSTER created a custom mobile app and the success gleaned from this initiative. Also covered...
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- The Case for Mobile Apps Today's mobile apps turn handheld devices into e-book readers, portable navigation systems, digital wallets and more. And for organizations with mobile workers, they...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Workforce Mobilization for Improved Productivity A mobility research director from Aberdeen discusses reasons for extending legacy applications to mobile devices, and an integration strategist from Attachmate shows how...
- Mobile Apps and Devices Slash Customer Cycle Time Consolidated Engineering Laboratories' field employees used to collect data on triplicate forms that were sometimes hard to read and difficult to manage. After...
- CDW Integrates with Google Apps for Cloud Collaboration Through a partnership with Google and Esna Technologies, CDW has rolled out native access to the CDW Cloud Collaboration suite within Google Apps. All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts