It is the year of tablets – but what are they for? Are they multimedia machines, bring-to-toilet-pc’s or can they be used in business?
I guess I am a veteran when it comes to tablets – i have been using HPs tablets in business for some 6 years already. Now, those oldtimers runs Windows XP (tablet version) and you need to use a stylus to write on the screen. They are basically a laptop with a possibility to draw and do handwriting and there is really only one useful app that supports the extras: Microsoft One Note.
But One Note on the other hand, is a killer app and probably one of the best Microsoft have ever launched. Back in 2001, Bill Gates with great enthusiasm presented the tablet as the next big thing – but it didn’t happen. Well, except that I bought one off course (hello Bill – did you also install One Note on yours?). 2010 Steve Jobs jumps the stage with the same product, and suddenly everyone have a tablet. Or at least dreams of one. How comes? Its simple – what we do with computers are rapidly changing and Apple dare to bet on that. In 2001 a PC was a standalone unit (the size of a minivan) mainly used as a typewriter that could do Bold and Italic. Nowadays its…part of life. To communicate (who place a call nowadays, except my mother?), navigate, read, listen, play…live! No typewriter anymore that is and then – who needs a keyboard? So, both Bill and Steve was right – a tablet is the future and if you dont have one already you soon will.
Samsung Galaxy vs Apple iPad
The question is two fold – its both hardware against hardware, Samsung against Apple, but even more software against software – Google against Apple.
Hardware vs. Hardware
When it comes to build quality and generic feel Samsung is great but Apple is better. It’s simply an Apple, and you just have to love it. The main difference is in the format, Apples 9,7 inch and Samsungs 7 inch. In reality that makes iPad about double the screen size as the Galaxy, and that makes for big differences in usability. Samsung is by default more portable and a device you can carry anywhere – it even fits in the inner pocket of most jackets. The Apple on the other hand, makes for much better reading – my favorite magazines is a joy to read on the iPad but pretty hopeless on the Samsung. The Samsung is also a phone, with SMS and call capacity which Apple is not.
Software vs. Software
I favor Google Androids openness, there is always a free app available for the task at hand – but Android Froyo is built to be used in a phone while Apples software is designed for the pad. Hence iPad makes slightly better use of the space, and downloading the wrong apps can make for a choppy experience on the Galaxy. The browser is one example where the built in browser is choppy and full of delays – while Opera Mini works great and performs like an Apple. All in all, the user experience is better with Apple (its damn fantastic) but the freedom of Android (no need for freaking Itunes) gives some of the honour back to Google. But then Samsung has done something stupid- in order to transfer files to and from a PC you seem to be forced to use a real crappy piece of Samsung sync software – its looks and feels is from the 90′s and it crashes and gets unresponsive more often than an old Windows Mobile device. That really complicates getting files onboard the Samsung, where for example HTC (using the same Android) allows for straight connection with Windows as an external disc. Come on Samsung – fire that guy on the software departement that coded the piece of crap and while you are at it, let go of the strategist that came up with this bad idea.
Tablets in Business
The real benefit of a tablet is its instant-on capacity. Like with a smartphone you have everything at hand when needed, but unlike a smartphone you can actually read mails, presentations and excel reports in a casual way. Having worked with the PC-based tablet for many years, i do miss the pen. The ability to do precision writing and drawing is great in business (comments on presentation, teamwork on a big screens) and then i miss Microsoft One Note. Right now i lean towards the format of the Samsung Galaxy when it comes to business use – combined with the pen and software just mentioned it would be a killer business machine. And one more thing – ability to connect a projector. How on earth can i work if i can’t show off my 220-page .ppt’s to the joy of my team and the rest of man kind? With those things added i would be ready to leave my PC back home, but already now i bring it less and less. Tablets are not ready for business yet, but i wonder who will carry a conventional lap top in 3 years? Not me, anyway! Kenneth Verlage