Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Tablets: Where's the Productivity?

Tablets: Not mobile enough or productive enough for many professionals

Beyond specific verticals and specialized jobs, tablets are facing a usage problem with business professionals. They aren't winning as companion devices or convertibles, as we discuss in this week's Monday Morning Opener.

Professionals using tablets
Image: iStockphoto

I'm packing for a business trip and once again the game of "do I pack the tablet?" starts anew. I need the laptop for work, need the smartphone because it's the one thing you can't leave home without and add the Kindle because the screen is easy on the eyes for reading. Does the tablet go along for the ride?

Increasingly, the answer is no.

The tablet is fun for consumption and that may work for many folks. But it's hard to argue the tablet—the 7-inch to 10-inch variety—is a tweener device. Tablets aren't quite mobile enough and not quite productive enough. Tablets are companion devices when I increasingly want to vote a device or two off the island.

To date, I haven't quite found that convergence device, but it's pretty clear the tablet isn't it. For a tablet to be a convergence device you may need a keyboard, a smartcover of some sort, and maybe a few adapters. Add it up and all you've done is cobble together an ultrabook or MacBook Air.

SEE: Rethinking the iPad: A formula to make it useful if you're already savvy on a laptop and smartphone (TechRepublic)

I recently sat through an overview of the HP ElitePad 1000, which is billed as a total business solution. The ElitePad has a bunch of accessories—smart jackets, battery, adapters, covers, docking stations and other goodies to turn this tablet into an enterprise IT powerhouse.

Derek Everett, director of worldwide product management for commercial Windows tablets at HP, was explaining to me how "not one size fits all with tablets." ElitePad is certainly flexible. But I had to interrupt him with: "At what point do you say screw all of this and just buy a laptop?"

Everett explained that certainly some people see tablets as a companion device. Others see tablets as notebook replacements. However, I'd argue most of us don't see them as either.

And that's the problem. For some business cases—sales, marketing, and customer service come to mind—a tablet is fine. For the rest of us, tablets have a few issues.

The larger issue is that the so-called convertible movement—tweener laptops and tablets—hasn't delivered that business home run yet. So for now, the tablet is voted out of the backpack. You can only lug around so much.

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. As a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the US.

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