Could There Be A Tablet PC In Your Future?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

So far, 2010 has been the year of the tablet.The recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas featured tablet PCs from HP and Lenovo. The word among Apple-watchers is that the latest must-have product from Steve Jobs will be a National Geographic-sized computer called the ‘iSlate.’

Tablets aren’t new – Bill Gates introduced Microsoft’s first attempt way back in 2000. But could 2010 be the year that this technology finally takes off?

I’m not so sure. With e-readers, smart phones and netbooks already popular, will the tablet find a way onto people’s wish lists? What will it offer that isn’t already available?

After all, many devices on the market today – from the Amazon Kindle to the iPhone – offer portability and easy Internet access.

By replacing the keyboard and trackpad of standard laptops, the tablet is able to shed some bulk and weight – a nice feature for travelers and denizens of coffee shops.

But when it comes to actual typing – the basis of productive computer usage – most touch screens fall short. (Of course, I wouldn’t bet against Apple’s ability to once again revolutionize the touch screen and make entering text a breeze.)

I suspect that the tablet PC will find a niche in the consumer market while not quite breaking into the business world.

The tablet’s allure seems mostly limited to passive engagement – watching videos, scanning Facebook feeds reading e-books, etc. In other words, not exactly productive activities from a business standpoint.