Friday, July 22, 2005

Here's what's wrong with the Tablet PC

I have read numerous Tablet PC evangelists wondering why the Tablet PC has not taken off as many had hoped. Here now, finally, is the answer:

Tablet PCs are just too slow.

None of the current implementations have fast enough processors to be usable. Mind you, I am in love with the idea of Tablet PCs. In the healthcare world, they have great potential to make things both easier for the provider and more accessible. I read white papers and testimonials from healthcare professionals and organizations saying how they have been used or how promising the idea is.

But, as I play with the three that we have purchased in our organization (healthcare), I am frustrated that the mouse cursor cannot keep up with normal handwriting or pen movement. It's yet another case of the human having to make too much of a concession to the machine to get something done.

As a programmer, I make concessions all the time. I devise workarounds for tools that misbehave. I translate data from one program's format to another format because the receiver or sender cannot accomodate the other. All of us live with quirky operating systems that require special care and feeding. I am willing to do these things because I like technology and enjoy making it work.

My end users, on the other hand, have much less interest in fiddling with bits or pieces of hardware. They could care less that they hold a wonderful but nascent technology in their hands. They only know that "this thing doesn't work!". When I create a solution for them, I try as much as possible to look at it from that viewpoint. And when I pick up a Tablet and use it from that perspective, it just doesn't hold up.

I bet if we could go somewhere over the 2Ghz range, the O/S could be responsive enough to make it truly what it was intended to be. We're just so close, and I really want us to get there.

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