Would you really want Dells Windows 7 tablet in your office

first_imgDell makes a compelling case for IT professionals in this promo video for their upcoming Latitude ST tablet. Confident professionals (or confident professional actors) are seen giving presentations, teaching students, and accessing medical data with the slate. It’s an appealing glimpse of what tablets can offer to a workplace. The only problem with this is that having a tablet that runs Windows 7 is going to present at least as many drawbacks as it does benefits.Sure, Windows 7 will get the attention of IT managers. (Hey, our desktops run Windows, so having it run on tablets will only make everything easier!) This would appear to be the case, until you take battery life, price, and app support into account. Windows 7 was not designed to run on tablets. Windows 8 on tablets still has some question marks, but we know it’s being tailor-made to run on them.On the specs front, Dell’s Windows 7 offering is packing a 1.5GHz single-core Atom Z670 CPU. It has a 10.1-inch display with 1366 x 768 resolution. It utilizes an SSD for up to 128GB of speedy internal storage. It will have USB, HDMI, and SD ports. The slate weighs 1.8 pounds, which is considerably heftier than the 1.33 of the iPad 2, and also heavier than some competing Windows tablets.There are obvious advantages that a tablet like this brings to an office. An iPad can’t easily transfer files via USB or SD. It also won’t run the same software as an office’s PCs. Also, the least expensive iPad will only allow for 16GB of storage. These are significant pros for the Latitude ST, but do they outweigh the cons?The slates that we have seen running Windows 7 generally have miserable battery life. We’re talking three or four hours in some cases. When they can muster up five or six hours, they’re often such hulking monstrosities that any advantage of using them over a laptop or netbook is basically cancelled out. Dell is claiming eight hours with the Latitude ST, but only hands-on testing will show how that number holds up.Even if Dell has pulled off the unconfirmed eight hours of uptime with this tablet, software support is going to be a big minus. Simply put, Windows apps are not currently designed for touch. Sure, Dell will have a small handful of tailor-made software to help them sell it, but beyond those few applications, touch UI will not be pretty here. Companies that order these had better get used to that stylus that is seen in the video, because that will be the only somewhat tolerable way to operate 99.9% of Windows apps.You always know that there is bad news coming when a company announces a product without revealing its price. The Latitude ST will probably be under $1000, but that’s not much consolation. As it packs an SSD, it won’t likely be too far below that mark. With the iPad costing consumers $500, and the Kindle Fire $200, how do I, as an IT manager, justify throwing down $800-900 each on a tablet with basically no touch-optimized software whatsoever?Better than iPad for enterprise?The iPad isn’t a perfect choice for IT at this point. It’s first and foremost a consumer device. But it probably still makes more sense than Windows tablets like the Latitude.What are the professionals doing in Dell’s promo? They’re browsing documents, giving presentations, and letting children solve math problems. The iPad has apps that allow all of the above, only in a lighter form factor, with much better battery life, and a touch-friendly interface. A lack of easy physical syncing with an office’s PCs can be remedied with iCloud, Box.net, or Dropbox. If security is a concern with these cloud services, then iOS has built-in security for corporate email.The iPad has changed how we feel about tablets, but that doesn’t mean that running a desktop OS on one of them is any better of an idea now than it was two years ago. Windows 8 has a good chance to change that, but only after developers have optimized a strong library of touch-friendly apps for it. There’s a reason that tablets were a dead-end market before the iPad came along, and the Dell Latitude ST doesn’t appear to change much of that formula.last_img

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