Enterprise Buyers Guide for Tablets: Shopping Checklist

Your guide to choosing the best tablet PC for your small or medium business

Following is a 12-point checklist outlining some of the features that should be assessed when shopping for your tablet PC. Gartner advises organisations to ascertain the appropriate screen size for the task at hand.

If workers use tablets outdoors, consider ruggedness and sunlight readability features. For staff on their feet all day, for example a retail environment, portability and weight are relevant characteristics.

1. Resistive touchscreen

Most tablets come with capacitive touchscreens that rely on a small electrical current generated when a finger is on the screen. For applications in which gloves may be worn, capacitive screens will not operate.

Gartner analyst, Ken Delaney, said resistive screens that rely on a pressure-sensitive screen overlay will solve this issue. However, he said they are not as accurate and can slightly degrade visibility. “Combination screens are in development and may become available in the future, “Delaney said.

2. Sunlight readable screen

These screens provide good indoor and outdoor readability. Some use polarizers that permit light hitting the screen to activate the LCD layer, illuminating it for outdoor use. Others block this layer, allowing the backlight to power the display for indoor use.

Delaney said the outdoor feature has improved during the past two years, but it still works best when sunlight hits perpendicular to the screen.

He advises conducting off-angle testing to ascertain optimal performance. “Some sunlight readable screens do not work well with interior lighting,” he said. “It is important to understand the use scenarios for the screen and to test readability under all required lighting conditions.”

3. Front/Back cameras

Tablets are starting to incorporate dual cameras. The rear-facing camera is for picture taking and video recording, and the front-facing camera is for conferencing. Usually, the rear-facing camera offers higher resolution and an optional flash, while the front-facing camera is of lower resolution.

4. Multi-touch

Multi-touch permits input from multiple points on a screen, enabling gestures such as swipe or pinch/zoom. These gestures allow more-intuitive navigation and permit users to expand text size (with a zoom gesture) on smaller screens.

5. Handwriting recognition

In many applications, handwriting capture (a graphic representation of handwritten text) is sufficient. However, some vertical forms applications require full handwriting recognition.

Delaney said this is native and mature in tablet PC forms, where users input a limited number of characters. He said it does not work well for freehand writing.

“Tablets do not have native handwriting recognition support, but require third-party applications,” he said. “Front end forms generating applications for tablets are still immature.”

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