Modern tablet is a very young technology, and as such it’s considered just a funny thing. So, is your brand new Android tablet really just a toy? Here at Paranoid Android we tried to give an answer.

The origins of Tablet

The base idea behind tablets, as often happens with technologies, is by no means new. At the end of the last century they started to appear already, next to PDA’s, as laptops with a touch/stylus screen and a rotable monitor. The main advantage was that you could easily show the display to your colleagues and that you could write/draw directly on the content you were showing (so called digital ink). On the other hand, it was still a laptop, not very handy as a PDA, and hand writing was not actually better than a normal keyboard.

In general, it was mostly a business tool, used to take notes, view documents and as common laptops. We have to remember that connectivity was not as granted as today.

The Tablet today

Suddenly Apple launches iPad, and the tablet becomes a mass phenomenon. Well, not as much as last generation smartphones yet, but it’s surely going to replace desktop or laptop PC’s in much of everyday use.

Compared to old tablet PC‘s, tablet computers take advantage of the new technologies derived from last generation smartphones, the ultra mobile:

  • light and hand portable
  • low power consumption (and no cooler fan!)
  • quiet (for those who still work on desktops, trust me, it’s worthy!)
  • they can stand by for long and be reactivated in a matter of moments
  • they have incredibly clear and detailed displays
  • great connectivity
  • multitouch screens
  • they’re cool

Compared to smartphones, on the other hand, they’re obviously less portable, but the larger screen grants some pluses:

  • it’s (much) better suited to contents fruition
  • easier to use touch screen (be it with virtual keyboard or other interfaces – display occlusion with finger is lower in percentage)
  • easier in general to keep an eye on multiple information and multiple controls.

It’s wonderful. What can we use it for?

It’s clear that a tablet is great in content fruition. We tap and swipe between news, weather forecasts and email, we pinch pictures as if it was already the most natural of things. Not to say how we fling birds (I’d bet they’re angry) into pigs. Little games to be played with one or two fingers, tilting the device or shaking it. Ultimate consumer product.

Is there really nothing for productivity?

We try and search the web for “tablet productivity” and we find lists of apps that don’t produce anything, but are helping tools to be productive in everyday life: app for time or money management, apps for taking notes or for shopping lists.

Currently some office suites are provided for tablets, but there’s no doubt a 10″ display is a limitation in those activities, having an almost required physical keyboard reduces portability, and touchscreen precision (not many tablets have a stylus) is not at all comparable to mouse one. However, these apps are there demonstrating that it is indeed possible to produce on a tablet.

New ideas?

If the tablet is worse than a PC in office work, there will be another field in which it can bright. We thought about it.

One of the fields the tablet seems made for is sales. A salesman presenting an interactive catalogue on one of those design gems (even if covered with fingerprints) would surely do a fast and effective job, but we’re still talking about content fruition.

Another field is hospital environment. Just think of a totally computerized patient folders system, that clinicians use through a tablet. It’s so obvious that I’m sure they already exist. But yet, more than with a couple of forms for data entry and service requests, we’re not producing anything. Similar to this field, but less sophisticated, is warehouse inventory.

Music, the electronic kind especially, seems instead a field where a tablet, with his mutable interface, can offer surprises.

And you? Do you have any ideas? Leave a comment!