Tablet PCs have been a huge trend in the last decade and especially at CES 2010. As noted by Deloitte: computer manufacturers are predicted to sell millions of “NetTabs” worldwide, a market of 612 million GBP. By 2015, shipments are forecast to reach about 57 million units annually.
Microsoft announced the Tablet PC concept 10 years ago and once I got my first Acer C300 (convertible Tablet PC) in 2003, I never moved back to “laptops”.
I decided on a TabletPC because I didn’t want to be chained to my desk at the office/home when you can design and sketch digitally everywhere – on the plane, on the beach, in the mountains, in the café – sketching your ideas, stories and the life that surrounds you….only a TabletPC can give you that freedom and experience. This devices are the perfect match for creative professionals – a digital sketchbook where you can do everything we used to do in our studio + much more – getting notes and digitizing content, sketching logos and websites, painting with thousands of brushes and canvas types, sculpting and rendering 3D models with endless choice of materials and lights, designing business presentations, CNC toolpath, SWOT/ web analytics/ SEO reports for customers and of course the casuals – web surfing, video conferences and Skype calls, music, emails, eBook reading, office apps – all of this on the move, out of the office, on the fly – wherever you want to go. Once I grabbed a tablet PC, I never looked back (currently spending less than 3 hours per week at the office). Designers love to use simple things like stylus (pen one end, eraser on the other) or fingertips in 90% of the cases, using a PC as natural as possible.
The first major UMPC improvement came last year with Dell Latitude XT2 and HP TouchSmart tx2, packing a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo behind a 12.1” multitouch screen, 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB disk, secured with a fingerprint scanner, which I enjoy every day. The only drawback is that the 256 pressure-sensitivity works only in a couple of applications, while Wacom Intuos4 has 2048 pixel-level pressure sensitivity, with several different brushes and even detects at which angle you hold the stylus to the surface.
After Apple joined the “tablet” party with it’s iPad this month (a pen coming soon), the slate PC market will grow exponentially, but the creative professionals are (almost) forgotten. The NetTabs are only larger media-focused readers/ phones, so I have to use my old convertible C300. After Acer discontinued all their tablet PC recently, I’m still searching for the ultimate tool for creative professionals:
- Large Screen – 12.1” SXGA is my favorite and it really does matter. The larger the device, the more useful it is, as far as you can carry it in a standard office bag.
- Wi-Fi, 3G/UMTS – I can leave with a Wi-Fi + Bluetooth connectivity , a tablet is not a second phone plus you can always speak in speakerphone mode. Data plans will come down when 4G is spread in 2013
- Rigid design and Battery Life – you can choose from 2 to 10 hours. Just cut in half what the vendor says or get a second battery to secure your new customer while making your great presentation.
- eBook Reading – while electronic paper is still the best display type for reading if you read a lot, but we need a devices that work well for both books and multimedia, artists don’t think in black and white.
- Win 7/ i7 applications – content is critical, applications are critical. We need a working tool to make us $$$ per hour, not a plastic toy. Multitasking? Intel does, iPad doesn’t. Games, TV and videos are different story for other devices.
- Pens, Brushes, Rugged, Waterproof… – sometimes a feature makes the device. If you want to use it outdoors, in the rain or charge it in the car? Get a Motion computing tablet
- Price? $500 to $5000. My first generation Acer was very expensive, this year we’ll have a convertible for less than $500!
Toshiba Portégé M750 and Fujitsu Lifebook T4310 are nice office tablets, Motion J3400 and Duros 8404 are great rugged tablets with the best outdoor display on the market, iPad and Pegatron are nice entertainment media tablets, but I can’t see the ultimate device for creative professionals. Rather than buying a dust-collector, I will wait until the end of the year, hoping to see the best tablet PC. Lenovo U1 Hybrid is really close to the perfect one!
What’s your tablet PC experience?