In the world of portable computing, Tablet PCs aren’t as widely used as they could be. Dominated by primarily laptops, tablets are seen as more of the expensive brother of the laptop mainly because of the special screen that laptops use to enable use of the pen. Besides the obvious “wow” factor for being able to write on the screen, which normally will throw people off if they are not expecting it. All types of people can get plenty of use out of a tablet PC besides the obvious business professionals. When shopping for a portable computer, There are a number of factors to consider when thinking about when purchasing a tablet PC, and each of these factors will dictate what kind portable you buy.
Portable computers fall into three different categories; laptops which everyone is familiar with and come in a very wide variety of shapes, sizes, and features. Tablet PCs which not as many people know about and let you write and draw on the screen with a special pen. If a portable falls into both of these categories then it’s called a convertible notebook and can operate as both a tablet and a laptop depending on the situation. For most people who just desire a portable computer a laptop will be enough for them, however if you find some of the ideas in this article useful you might want to consider the purchase of a tablet, and if you want the best of both worlds you should go with a convertible notebook. Generally speaking the cost increases for comparable configurations as you go through the categories in that order so a tablet with the same specs as a laptop will tend to be more expensive and likewise with a convertible notebook and a tablet. Of course you can look out for sales and auctions to get a better deal if needed.
Now, who can find a use for a tablet PC to warrant the extra cost? Anyone can find something to do with a tablet PC but the question is if the uses you find for it are worth the extra money. Tablet PCs tend to be advertised to students and business professionals and generally speaking they can find the most uses for them. Using a program called OneNote from Microsoft, you can take notes in meetings or during class in your own handwriting, sort the notes like you want to, and search all your notes even in your own handwriting. You can even record dictation right in OneNote to play back later. Now all of this has an obvious use to students and business people who can take notes for classes or meetings, mark to-do items, record lectures, and keep track of personal lives all in one place.
Anyone who needs to share information quickly and effectively can use a tablet to do just that. Take a party planner for example, with a tablet PC they can pre-visit the site and draw a layout of the party plan for the customer. If there is a wireless connection available, they can hop online and give customers an idea about how much a feature might cost to rent or buy. A project manager at a construction site could make notes of problems that arise in the design and instantly email those notes to an engineer who could make the corrections and email them back. A Journalist could record an interview, do both web and traditional research, and write and submit their article all on the same machine without having to worry about extra equipment. I myself even prepared this article on a convertible notebook by writing the outline in my own handwriting and reorganizing it without having to erase and re-write my notes.
Of course tablets can serve for other uses than just making notes and sharing those notes with others. Take for example a graphic artist that is just starting on their own with little startup funds. That artist could use a tablet PC as a tool for presentations to potential clients, their main work computer by taking advantage of being able to draw on the screen as well as have access to all the graphics programs they use to create their art, and can even take the entire setup with them and go where ever they need to draw inspiration.
Whoever you are if you’ve decided that some form of a tablet PC is for you there’s a number of software packages to be sure to include in your purchase.
Microsoft OneNote is the quintessential software for a tablet PC. It is the main contender in general purpose tablet software and allows the user to use the software how they want and organize how they want. Take notes in your own handwriting and search them later, keep notes in folders all using a tabbed interface. http://office.microsoft.com/onenote/
TechSmith Snagit is screen capture software that is much more than screen capture software. Even though it is not really tablet specific this should be included in everyone’s software arsenal. Using SnagIt, you can select and capture anything on your screen even scrolling webpages and save the actual links, then easily add text, arrows, or effects, and save the capture to a file or share it immediately by e-mail or IM. http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.asp
InkGestures from JumpingMinds Software is an add-on for Microsoft word that lets you edit documents using over 20 standard copyediting commands all with your tablet pen. Use word to send email from Outlook (the default behavior)? You automatically get access to all the same editing power for your emails as well. http://www.jumpingminds.com/InkGestures/index.htm
SignDoc from SOFTPRO secures the authenticity and integrity of documents in a variety of formats, compliant with the various e-Sign laws. Characteristics of the signature image and the biometric signals of the signature are stored encrypted, immediately after signing. A unique integrity number is bound to the document. If the document is altered later without authorization this integrity number is no longer valid and the signatures are deleted from the document. http://www.signplus.com/en/products/signdoc/
There’s also lots of tablet add-ons for software you probably already use as well as a host of tablet specific specialty software. A simple Google search can get you started on the right path to finding this software as well as other software you’ve probably never even know you needed.
Need some help, try asking at a number of web forums and groups dedicated to using tablet PCs. Here are a couple to get you started, microsoft.public.windows.tabletpc usenet group (they can accessed using Google groups at http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.windows.tabletpc?lnk=gschg). The moble and PDA Google Group at http://groups.google.com/group/MobilePDA?lnk=gschg. Tablet PC Buzz is an online community for news, information and discussion about tablet PCs (http://www.tabletpcbuzz.com/). With the resources in this article and the ones you can easily find on the web anyone should be able to find the way to get the most from their tablet PC.