Swallowing tablet PC

This week sees the launch of not one, but two tablet PCs in the region.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  November 16, 2002

This week sees the launch of not one, but two tablet PCs in the region. Both Fujitsu Siemens and Hewlett Packard will be unveiling their versions of the new PC form, following on from Acer's debut of its tablet PC last week.

Interest is growing in this new form, but the big question, as always, is will anyone buy it?

The tablet form is something of an odd hybrid. Not quite as small as a PDA, the device aims to have true portability, but while packing all the functionality of a fully-fledged desktop OS.

While there are several different forms to the tablet segment, the idea is essentially the same-you can pick it up, write on it, and walk around with it-pervasive computing in a nutshell. The vendors are already revving up the hype engine on what we are likely to see from tablet, along with the usual range of new buzzwords to get to grips with.

Tablets could make a big impact in sales, logistics, healthcare, education, finance, etc etc. But will they?

The fact is that tablet PC's will be quite expensive for some time yet-the complexity of the components assures that. They also have a number of things to prove. To be truly mobile and useful, they must also be fairly robust.

They must prove that they have advantages over existing solutions for industries like logistics and healthcare, where manufacturers like Symbol have already staked their claim, and they have to attract third party software developers who can put applications onto tablet.

The software also has to perform intuitively, in particular the hand writing recognition. All of these elements are going to take time to iron out, so while there are quite a lot of models suddenly hitting the market, it could be a while before we can really tell what's what.

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