Why Should I Buy a Tablet PC ?

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Why should I buy a Tablet PC? Many of us have heard this question all our lives about new gismos.

For me, the answer rests with personal priorities, that is, how current or state-of-the-art I want to be. It’s a matter of practical priorities. How can I accomplish something most effectively and efficiently.

When I think of a Tablet PC, I remember my dad describing how most people around him in Nebraska bought and used buggy whips when he first drove Grandpa’s car at age six in 1912. That image of buggy whip and car in an era before mass production reminds me that I also do things at home, in school, and in business because of my priorities.

Regardless of the rhetoric, I think other people, by definition, use their priorities when deciding to promote or buy a Tablet PC.

I like thinking forward, anticipating how to use a new machine, and being around people who decide to make their own future with new machines in spite of how many buggy whips others buy.

We’ve had at least a dozen Tablet PCs in our home, including one of the first two sold to the public in the U.S. We sold through our business hundreds more to individuals, businesses, journalists, healthcare, and education when only a relatively few people beyond hardware manufacturers and Microsoft knew the words Tablet PC.

Richi Jennings says Tablet PC is boring, it seems. Then he cites Mary Jo Foley’s conclusion that Tablet PC sales will take off more slowly than some (optimists?) anticipated. She makes a reasonable point: she can’t find them in stores. Nor can I. Maybe others have them in stores near them. Lora Heiny suggests that Microsoft could consider experience centers in prime locations, such as right across the street from Moscone (Center) in San Francisco, where people can learn about and try new technology.

Yes, Microsoft, do help hardware manufacturers add Tablet PCs with Microsoft Tablet PC software to stores, the way Intel helps businesses promote Intel products. And yes, do offer experience centers.

In our family’s business and personal experiences, we’ve found that a visible Tablet PC attracts users the way an idle basketball attracts players and honey attracts flys. They just appear.

Enthusiasts want killer apps to justify their affection of the moment. Mass buyers want access to a product. Then, they’ll consider how it fits their priorities.

An evolving challenge for Microsoft and Tablet PC hardware manufacturers is to decide whether to offer mass access to Tablet PCs for most of us, or to reserve the tool for the elites of education, journalism, business, and healthcare.

I don’t know if the current limited access to Tablet PCs is by design or default. I hope these limits are just a passing marketing phase leading to mass access through brick and morter stores, so students can have individual, independent access.

Then, they can learn the pleasure of using state-of-the-art tools for serious learning instead of buggy whips for play.

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Robert Heiny
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in [I]The Encyclopedia of Education [/I](1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for [I]TuxReports[/I].com.