There is no slowdown in the popularity of tablet PCs. Research firm NPD DisplaySearch in its latest Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report indicates that tablets will drive the mobile PC market over the next few years. The firm expects notebook sales to increase from 208 million units this year to 393 million units by 2017. By comparison, tablet shipments will increase fourfold from 121 million units this year to 416 million units in 2017.  Overall mobile PC shipments will grow from 347M units in 2012 to over 809M units by 2017. 

Tablet benefits for small business

I wrote earlier this year that a survey of 1100 small businesses by Newtek Business Services indicated that 28 percent of small business owners are using tablets for their business applications versus 19 percent who are using laptops and 17 percent desktops. Down the road, 55 percent of respondents indicated they plan to use a tablet.

If you haven’t made the switch from a notebook to a tablet or augmented your mobile device arsenal with one, here are some things to consider.  For starters, tablets give you instant-on; there’s no wait time to boot up. They also have superior battery life, which means you don’t need to carry a charger around all day if you are out of the office.

A range of functionality is available through a host of touch-based apps. You’ll be able to find an app to meet most any daily workflow need.  You can create an invoice, scan or send a document to the cloud or someone else, launch a web or video conference or take notes. For new business or customer meetings, you can more easily display a presentation on your tablet than on a notebook. If you need a powerful computing device, add a wireless keyboard.

Choose features and functions

The operating system you choose will determine your choice of apps, though mobile apps are in abundance across of a range of tablet devices.  Size does matter and there are a variety of tablet screens from 7 inches up to 13. Size may depend on what apps you plan to use with your tablet.  Processing speed will impact your ability to run powerful apps or multitask. If you plan to do either or both, you’ll want a dual core processor

Also consider if you need cellular data or if WiFi will suffice. You’ll pay more for a tablet that has a cellular connection, but if constant access is something you need, then choose a tablet with a 3G or 4G connection. You’ll need a monthly connection or can opt for a pay as you go. Another consideration is the number of ports. The more ports and ways you can connect, the more flexibility and functionality you’ll have.

Security is an issue. In addition to the possibility of a device getting lost or stolen, find out what security apps you can download to block dangerous websites or to remotely erase sensitive data.

Tablets are enticing; more than that they can be a real boost to your productivity, customer service and sales. Apply the same due diligence in purchasing a tablet as you would for any critical technology you need to run your business.