I’ve been using a tablet for the last few weeks with the aim of understanding the business usage potential for them.  I prefer to travel light, so if this device is going to be useful for me, then it’s got to replace something.

What’s good about the device?

  • Touch screen input is a really natural way to work for ‘consuming’ information (web browsing, reading documents etc).
  • Instant on, rather than waiting for a boot-up to finish is a time saver.

 What’s not good about the device?

  • Lack of mouse control makes precision work (creating diagrams, process flow charts etc) almost impossible (although tablets with styli are addressing this).

Can it replace my laptop?

In certain situations, yes.  If I’m travelling for 1-2 days, and know that I’ll just need email in that time, then the tablet is a great weight and space saver.  Also, travelling in economy on planes and trains, the form factor of a tablet is much easier to work on than a laptop.  Overall though, I wouldn’t give up a laptop completely (as I’m sure almost everyone wouldn’t)

Can it replace my mobile?

Very unlikely.  If you take a large bag everywhere with you, then it’s possible, but the pocket size of mobiles makes them more convenient.  If you do want to use them as a mobile then you’ll need a good headset of course.  Again, no it won’t replace my phone completely.

Can it replace my desktop phone?

This is the most interesting question for me, UC is making us think more about the devices we use for communication and collaboration – so is the tablet ready for full time enterprise use?  Not yet, but there is no reason why it shouldn’t do in the near future.  I already use a software program for my calls, and the device I run that program on is connected over a wireless network.  It’s unlikely that consumer focussed devices would fulfil this function, but devices from the traditional or not-so traditional would easily achieve this.  Again, you’d need a good headset for this to work,  but this seems to be the most likely route for tablets to be adopted as replacement devices rather than incremental ones within enterprises.