While tablet PCs have yet to really take off, Microsoft’s decision to incorporate tablet PC features and functionality into its Windows Vista operating system changes everything. Now, instead of having to manage a separate operating system just for tablet PCs, IT managers will be able to manage just one.
Of course, this means nothing if enterprises do not deploy Vista until the first service pack. Regardless, IT managers purchasing tablet PC hardware-whether in convertible or slate form-should consider the hardware requirements of the operating system during the RFP process.
Convertible versus slate form is the first thing purchasing managers should decide when it comes to tablet PCs.
Road warriors, for example, will probably want the flexibility of a convertible tablet, which would allow them to take notes with a digitizer pen, yet also type e-mails using the keyboard.
On the other hand, medical professionals may prefer slate models, which are not only lighter, but also less unwieldy.
- Describe the tablet PC:
- Minimum and maximum weight
- Is the tablet a slate or a convertible?
- Where is the location of the digitizer pen?
- Does the digitizer pen have an eraser?
- What operating systems are available for preload?
- Windows Vista (which version)
- Windows Tablet PC Edition
- Mac OS X
- What operating systems are supported?
- Windows (which versions)
- Linux (which variants)
- Others (please specify)
- Is the tablet PC Vista-Ready?
- Will the tablet PC run Vista Aero Glass?
DISPLAY AND VIDEO
When it comes to tablet PCs, one of the most important things to consider is the display and the machine’s ability to handle handwriting.
Vendors work hard to try to provide a good handwriting experience on tablet PCs, making how realistic the digitizer pen feels on the display compared to writing on real paper something IT managers should consider during the purchasing process.
For organizations that are purchasing tablet PCs for fieldwork, a touch screen display is a feature that should be taken into consideration. This would allow a user to use his or her fingers to enter data rather than rely on the digitizer pen or a keyboard.
- What is the display size?
- Does the display have light technology such as Xbrite, Ultrabrite, and so on?
- Does the display have viewing technology such as XGA TFT (thin-film transistor) or XSGA+ck? If so, which ones?
- Does the display have touch screen capabilities? If so, describe those capabilities.
- What is the native resolution of the display?
- What kind of video graphics are available?
- Which families of processors are available? Please specify the exact models available.
- Intel Core Duo 2 Duo
- Intel Core Duo
- Intel Core Duo Ultra Low Voltage
- Intel Core Solo
- AMD Turion 64
- AMD Turion 64 X2
When it comes to Vista, eWEEK Labs recommends configuring laptops and desktops with at least 1GB of RAM.
- What is the standard memory?
- What is the maximum memory capacity?
HARD DISK DRIVE
- What is the standard hard drive?
- What is the maximum hard drive capacity?
BATTERY AND POWER
Since users will likely be carrying the unit, especially while using it in slate form, battery life is more important than ever when it comes to tablet PCs.
- What is the standard battery?
- What is the standard battery life?
- How many cells does each battery option have?
- Does the tablet PC have an optional extended-life battery? How much does that battery cost?
- How many hours of battery life does the extended-life battery offer?
- Can the power adapter be used with other mobile computing hardware from the same vendor?
Often times, a laptop/tablet PC vendor will make its AC adapters universal across a specific business line of hardware. This allows an IT manager to easily replace an adapter should a user break or lose one.
- What types of optical drives can be included?
- Is the optical drive built-in or external?
- What types of radios or NICs can be integrated in the tablet PC?
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Intel Pro/Wireless ABG or other wireless radio
Manufacturers have begun to ship laptops equipped with wireless radios that support the draft-802.11N specification. That specification is expected to be ratified sometime in 2007. Intel has announced that it will not wait for ratification and will ship its Centrino Duo platform with the Intel Next-Gen Wireless-N network connection.
- Can the tablet PC be equipped with embedded WWAN (wireless WAN) capabilities? If so, which services are supported:
- Cingular HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access)
- Verizon EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized)
- Please check all the ports available on the tablet PC:
- Expansion bus
- External display
- External microphone
- How many USB 2.0 ports does the tablet PC have?
- Does the tablet PC support TPM (Trusted Platform Module)?
TPM is an integrated security component that allows users to create and store encryption keys. Microsoft’s Vista operating system uses TPM technology as part of its Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption feature. BitLocker will encrypt a computer’s entire volume for security.
Since tablet PCs and other mobile devices are at high risk for theft and loss, pushing security down to the hardware level via TPM can be a much better solution than a simple BIOS password.
- Does the tablet PC feature an integrated fingerprint reader? Where is the fingerprint reader located? Ideally, the fingerprint reader should be located on the display so that it can be used regardless of what mode the Tablet is in.
KEYBOARD AND MOUSE
- Is the keyboard full-sized? If not, what is reduced?
- Is there a TrackPoint mouse, a touch-pad mouse, or both?
- Is a port replicator available? If so, how much is the port replicator?
- Which of the following slots does the tablet PC have:
- ExpressCard slot
- SD (Secure Digital)
- Multimedia card reader
- If the tablet PC has a multimedia card reader, how many cards does the reader support?
- What management tools, if any, come with the laptop? Warranty and Support
- To what does the warranty apply? (Check all that apply)
- The system
- The battery
- The port replicator (if included)
- How much does support cost?
- What is the price and configuration of a fully loaded tablet PC?
- What is the price and configuration of a standard build?
- What is the price and configuration of a minimum build?
Check out eWEEK.com’s for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.