We've done a couple of posts now on using tablets in business/enterprise settings. In our final post in this series we're soliciting ultimate feedback. There's an interesting trend going on in the consumer tablet space now, with attention shifting away from 10-inch form factors down to 7 or 8-inch models. I suspect things will be different in business/enterprise markets though. For those of you who see a use for tablets in the workplace, what is the ideal form factor? I'd love to hear your responses in the comments. Go as far as you want on the spec list too - down to silicon, storage options, dimensions, etc... Upcoming tablets are obviously set in stone, but your input could definitely help shape future designs.

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  • silenceisgolden - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    I'm afraid I can't provide a good use case, but I do question why a person would buy a tablet over an ultrabook or even a convertible ultrabook (or even MBA). The only reason why I would think a person (or company) would buy an iPad is to get a larger iOS device. Reply
  • hackguy - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    10 inches are (I believe) almost perfect, maybe 9 or 9.5 inch tablets would be better for carrying, but I'm sticking with 10. Display resolutions should start leaning north of 1080p. Processor can stick around with 4 cores, which are still a bit of overkill, while graphics must develop further. For storage, I was thinking about something upgradeable, like a mSATA SSD, or at least two memory cards (yeah, I'm unique like that). Batteries should be as big as possible, while the device itself must be light and thin enough to be able to be carried in one hand. Also, I'd like to say something about touchscreens. If I would be designing a tablet, I would rather pay 20€ more and choose a touchscreen that has really low input latency and pen input than a normal, laggy piece of plastic. That was my 2 cents. Reply
  • Aegrum - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    I support a few hundred users in a hospital IT environment. I use an iPad with a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for doing tickets/sysadmin tasks, and it's just about exactly the right device for me to do this work on. For tasks I need Windows for (AD, GPO), I use it to connect to a VM via the VMware View app, running on a blade server, so it essentially turns the iPad into an Ultrabook, though the battery life is far better than what I'd get on most Ultrabooks (IVB era).

    Many of the doctors we support prefer the iPad mini size, as it almost perfectly fits into a lab coat. We have them set up with a virtual clinical environment (again through VMware View) where they run their clinical apps.

    For hardware improvements, the only improvements I would hope for would a slimmer bezel (which seems to be coming) and WAY better wireless strength. We're constantly having clinicians complain about dropping their connections as they walk around the hospital, even though we have extensive 802.11N Cisco AP coverage.

    For software, anything that improves our ability to manage the mobile device remotely in a meaningful sense. Everything in our environment is heading towards BYOD, and not being able to control what our users access via their tablets is a security concern, especially from a HIPAA standpoint. We use the VMs because its far easier to manage and secure, but there's still a concern of someone loading their work email on a device, and not being able to properly sandbox that. There are plenty of tools that claim to offer this, but nothing we've evaluated has met all our criteria.
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  • Aegrum - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    Oh - and I will add - we evaluated the ElitePad (still are) and while having full blown Windows seemed to offer some benefits, the app support just kills it. x86 Windows apps (like VMware View) aren't nearly touch friendly enough yet. Reply
  • eszklar - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    I have to admit I like the iPad/iPad mini User case here - not everyone needs x86 tablet hardware. Reply
  • apertotes - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    Did those doctors prefer a Nexus 7 before, or are they forced to use iOS hardware? Reply
  • Aegrum - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    Yes - iOS is greatly preferred by most of the clinical people I've interfaced with. It's just more comfortable to them. Also, the aspect ratio and resolution on an iPad Mini lends itself better to a virtual desktop clinical app environment than the Nexus 7. Most apps are developed at a 1024x768 resolution standard, so it looks more accurate than when they're running on a wider, but thinner, 1280x800 resolution. Basically it's almost an extra inch wide, with the same vertical, which lets you display more horizontal content on screen when its upright, or more vertical content when its horizontal. Reply
  • apertotes - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    I do not think that you are right about resolutions. 1280x800 has more pixels than 1024x768 anyway you look at it. If anything, Nexus 7 should show at least the same information than the ipad mini, if not more.

    So doctors prefer a cumbersome regular ipad with iOS than a more convenient and portable Nexus 7 with Android. I hope that it boils down to apps availability and not simple elitism.
    Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - link

    It might be more pixels, but the way the Nexus 7 formats the UI, it can actually feel cramped, especially now that 4.2 split the notification and button bars. I don't have much experience with iPad mini, but my guess is the aspect rations narrow top bar make it feel more spacious.

    That said, I love my XPS10 enough that I just sold my Nexus 7. 10" works great for Office use. I have yet to handle an 8" Windows tab, so I can't say how well it would do. I get the feeling that content would seem really small unless they do some scaling, which would make the screen seem too small again.
    Reply
  • mr_tawan - Thursday, June 27, 2013 - link

    It's probably the physical dimension. Reply

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