The Tablet PC: Why it's better than a tablet
If ever there was a product that's under-appreciated, it's the Tablet PC. Over the last five-odd years, I've watched the smartphones evolve into greatness, and yet, only now are we starting to see a market for penning notes. Enter, for example, Samsung's Galaxy Note. However, to us geeks who remember (with fond-yet-contentious memories) Microsoft's WindowsCE or 6.1 MOS, the emerging craze of "penning" (my name for stylus-centric devices), it's all a little retrograde.
Same with the Tablet PCs. Tablet PCs have a long history - almost as long as the laptop, itself. They came out in the late 1990s, and, since then, they've gone almost completely unnoticed. To me, this is quite a conundrum because, at least for PC users (Apple has yet to offer one), the Tablet PCs are, quite literally, the best of both worlds. In fact, its only major drawback is its bulk, which isn't that "major," really, since the newer models are about 3 lbs. With Tablet PCs, you get a complete Windows OS (Windows 7, Windows 8 Windows XP) in, well, a tablet! Until Windows 7, Windows XP was the only viable choice for tablet pcs, and the OS is still relevant today.
Truth be told, I never actually understood the frenzy over the conventional tablet (i.e. iPad, Google's Android). While they're great for quick fixes of news, keeping up with social networking sites, and playing games (although archaic when compared to desktop PC games), they're hardly "laptop replacements." Yes, the offer the "McApps" such as a McWord, McExcel, and McPowerPoint. But, seriously, I've never met anyone who uses these McApps in place of their originals. With a Tablet PC, however, you have a fully functioning laptop and a tablet all in one. No visualization: the Tablet PC is just as powerful as any of the cutting edge laptops. So why aren't they more popular?
One obvious reason is that they haven't been marketed - another Microsoft failure, in my opinion. Once the iPad took off, everyone else - including Microsoft - jumped on the bandwagon in a complete lapse of ingenuity. Instead of designing smartphones and portable computing in new and different ways, the emergence of the Android OS and Microsoft's new MOS are really just variations of the same iPad tune.
Thus, Tablet PCs are "cool," "clicky," or "easy." Of course, they're really all of these marketing mnemonics, and more, but because of a complete lack of their manufacturers' insight, they've been left out of the party. And we have to deal with multiple software versions (i.e. "mobile apps" and "desktop apps"), which, at least for me, is a really a pain.
While the Tablet PC is awesome - and when compared to the mainstream tablet, utterly superior - you can't put a tablet of any kind into your front pocket like you can a smartphone.
I have an Android smartphone, which I love. I used to use Microsoft Office's OneNote and Outlook. Separate, they're extraordinary applications that each puts its competition to shame. Together, they're unbeatable. However, I've since switched to Evernote and Gmail not out of choice but because Microsoft hasn't developed a suite of mobile offshoots of these programs. Yes, I know, MS just came out with a mobile OneNote, but have you seen that thing??? It's horrible! A first-year programming student could do a better job. And while Android does offer an "Exchange-like" experience, the emphasis is on "like" and not everyone uses (or can afford) MS Exchange. However, Evernote has a desktop application and Gmail is, well, Gmail. It's ubiquitous. While Gmail pales in comparison to Exchange in each and every way, their plugins and mobile apps just don't cut it.
Evernote, too, pales in comparison to OneNote, but I'm stuck with Evernote because I need what I call "device consistency." It's so very protracted, cumbersome, and downright annoying to use a mobile app and its companion desktop app because all mobile apps lack much of the functionality of their more powerful desktop brethren, thereby rendering both applications useless to me because I need (and want) the exact same functionality in both versions, which is something that the portable hardware doesn't offer.
I realize that I'm being just a little cynical...okay, perhaps downright jaded. But it's because we such amazing technology already on the shelves and yet we're all (me, included) victims of cleaver marketing. Have a look at the Amazon links in the sidebar of this article. In fact, do a search for a Tablet PC...but get ready: it's a real bone yard out there!