The tablet market has grown tremendously over the past few years. What started as a content consumption device for consumers has transformed into a device that has started to pull sales away from traditional notebooks. The obvious next step for tablets is towards the enterprise and business users.

As my usage models tend to be a bit unusual, when tasked with finding out how people use tablets for work my initial thought was to go to you all directly. So, how do you or could you use use tablets for work? What possibilities do you see for tablet use in work going forward? Respond with your thoughts in the comments, a lot of eyes will be watching this discussion and you could definitely help shape design decisions going forward.

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  • Ktracho - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    I think the idea of Windows RT is really good. Currently at work, I use a fast desktop system with 16 GB of memory and running Windows 7. The real work I do takes place in a Linux virtual machine, to which I dedicate 8 GB of memory. The only reason I boot into Windows is because I need to be able to run MS Outlook (and MS Office), Internet Explorer (I cannot use any other browsers for some of the things I have to do), Windows Explorer, and a software app my company has instead of an office phone. I have spent many hours trying to find a way to run these Windows apps in a virtual machine or under CrossOver for Linux, and it just is not convenient enough.

    On the other hand, it is easier to run Linux in a virtual machine, and with NVIDIA's GRID technology, it could even be displayed on a tablet, so as long as I had a docking station, I really could get by with a tablet at work. When not at my desk, I could use something like putty if I needed to quickly do something on Linux. Having proper access to e-mail and their attachments, as well as to Internet Explorer, is really important when away from my desk.
    Reply
  • geniekid - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    As a developer, there are things I could definitely do on a tablet (there are IDEs out there for Android/iOS) but there's nothing I can think of that I could do BETTER on a tablet than on a desktop or laptop.

    The features that tablets have over laptops are increased mobility and a touch based interface. I can't think of any reason I would use a touchscreen (unless I needed to develop a touchscreen UI), but if I needed to take my work home with me on a daily basis I might appreciate having a tablet.

    Before tablets supercede laptops for developers, they will need
    1) a huge increase in processing ability to run adequate IDEs and other software development tools
    2) a huge increase in the number of software development tools
    3) a substantial increase in data transfer interfaces for docking purposes (Thunderbolt could be the answer here)
    4) all of the above at a competitive price to laptops
    Reply
  • B3an - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    For points 1 and 2, any Intel Core based Windows 8 tablet will easily fill them needs. Point 4 is also filled by a few Win 8 tablets. The only issue is 3, i don't know of any tablets with Thunderbolt.

    But theres so many comments i'm seeing here where the answer is simply "Surface Pro" or "x86 Win 8 tablet". Do you people live under a rock or something...
    Reply
  • andrewaggb - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    We're all reading anandtech. I find it impossible anybody posting here hasn't heard of the surface pro.

    I don't want to run dual monitors over usb3. And even dual 1920x1200 feels limiting.

    128gb is not enough storage. I want 512gb.

    Haswell will give much better battery life, so I want that as well, and I'd rather have an i7 option.

    Surface pro is close, but it's a mid-range device.
    Reply
  • Jaybus - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    Indeed, it will take something like Thunderbolt to make a tablet really functional for docking and using multiple large monitors, etc. When that comes, well then we may see PCs and laptops replaced. The problem is, can't get something for nothing, Thunderbolt's high speed takes a lot of power. The 4 chan Cactus Ridge controller alone takes 3.4 W, and then a TB host port must supply 10 W of power to devices. Adding TB is at least doubling the power requirements of a tablet. Someday....but not yet. Reply
  • DukeN - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    We've bought a few different types as pilots the last couple of years, and in the end it always boils down to having an application/use for them in which they are better than notebooks. This for us tends to be rare, but it does exist (eg marking up documents) Reply
  • EnsilZah - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Speaking as a designer, I've seen a couple of my supervisors use tablets mostly for correspondence with clients, reading briefs, pulling up reference images, stuff like that.

    Personally, I'm rather interested in the Thinkpad Helix, having about the same processing power as my older 15" laptop which I'm too lazy to carry around these days unless I really have to, but I think in the smaller package, with the high resolution display, the ability to leave the keyboard at home, and the Wacom stylus I might be more inclined.
    But with the improvements Haswell promises to GPU and power consumption I think I'd rather wait for a refresh, or maybe a Surface Pro 2 (Or maybe they'll call it Surface Pro One just to screw with people).

    I've always considered ARM-based tablets as toys and I don't see myself changing my mind anytime soon.
    Reply
  • r3loaded - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    I was interested in the Helix too, right up until they announced the price >.< Reply
  • Da W - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    As a financial analyst, i use a surface pro with office an 2013 subscription and an extra 20GB of skydrive. All my work files are in the cloud: excel spreadsheet, powerpoint presentation, word documents and pdf. I take notes with one note and the stylus. My tablet is mostly an on the road thing. My databases and big files are in my desktop, i develop on my desktop but all my output can be magically accessed from my surface. I don't know where to fit my android phone in all this, i use it as a wi-fi hotspot :)
    I'm not sure it will ever get better than this cause i will always need a desktop with a 300+W GPU. I don't see tablets taking over that role.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    Using it: no.
    Could use it: no.. well, not really.

    Future use: the Thinkpad Helix (or similar concepts) might be useful. As powerful as it gets in this form factor, yet with the full useability of a notebook. And hopefully expandibility as well.. not sure about the current state here.

    In this case the tablet mode would be a "nice to have" to quickly carry things around and show people stuff when sending it electronically would take longer. Or they don't have the program to view that file. Or to show results interactively.

    Raw number crunching power and disk space would be a concern to me, though, as I'm not always connected to my simulation machines. Here it could help to at least allow cTDPs up to ~28 W when plugged in and to put a large HDD into the base unit of something like the Helix. Makes it bigger and heavier, but if the tablet unit stays light and has decent battery life (I'm watching you, Haswell!) such a compromise would make the device more useful for me. "Thin" is trendy, but must not get in the way of getting work done.
    Reply

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