Brenda recently posted a comment on one of my previous posts where she noted:
“it seems to me that your 3 points advocating a tablet PC could just as easily apply to a PDA.
I take notes in meetings, draw diagram, and have years worth of documents and emails in my pocket wherever i go.
One you add in instant on and quick use (on bus, waiting in queue for crepes etc) seems a $800 pda is more usable.
It all ends up at my desktop pc after syncing - and i'm less concerned about breaking or losing my desktop. My data is safe.
hope you have a reply - love discussing this stuff “
I’m always happy to participate in a healthy discussion – but let me start by saying this. I’ve been a PDA user for years and I still am currently I have an Hp hx4700.
I don’t disagree with Brenda that PDAs are powerful devices. There are certainly cases where a PDA will make sense and a tablet won’t. The critical factors are the who, what, when, where and how of information.
If you are trying to select the right mobile device for a user or a job role you need to consider:
1. who are the uses? In particular how IT literate are they?
2. What information do they need to access? Is it textual or graphical? This will help you understand what screen-size will be appropriate.
3. When is the information needed – And how current does it need to be?
4. where will the useful se when they need to access the information? This has implications for both form factor and device ruggedness.
5. How is the user interacting with the info? Do they just need to read it? Are the creating new content? Are they manipulating it in some way?
There are also many other options that can seriously complicate the device selection process. Consider the PadLE below. This device runs CE.net (similar to Windows Mobile) and has a 8.5 inch screen. For comparison my PDA has a 4” screen and my Tablet has a 12.1” screen.
All of that said there are a couple of points from Brenda’s comment I wart to address directly.
1. Instant on – I have my tablet configured to hibernate and resume when I hit the power button – takes about 30 seconds to resume. Much faster than powering up.
2. Sync with desktop. My tablet is My desktop, so take the price of your desktop into consideration if comparing PDAs and tablets. Everything of import is in “My Documents” or my e-mail. Both sync with a server on each connect – including VPN connections and is therefore backed up.
So when is a Tablet preferable to a PDA or a PadLE? There are plenty of factors to consider but some good indicators a tablet is going to add Value are:
· Manipulating data in office apps. Pocket Word and Pocket Excel are pretty cut down so if you need to use tables, track changes or add comments then you need the full versions. Note Windows Mobile 5 (just released) improves this somewhat
· Video output – without 3rd party add-ons you can’t plug a PDA into a projector.
· Need to access unsupported web content. Active-x controls, flash and some java can’t be displayed in Pocket IE. Some sites that we pure HTML just don’t display well.
· Peripherals – it is somewhat easier to attach an optical drive to a tablet than a PDA…