I recently got An iPad to try as part of our analysis work on the Apple tablet, and it is becoming apparent to me that devices of this class will grow to be as popular as the current crop of e-mail-enabled smartphones.
Today we all carry our BlackBerries from meeting to meeting. Soon we'll be toting far more powerful devices-ones that will be at home in the netbook's current market space while also performing some of the tasks now assigned to laptops.
The emerging platforms-including tablets that can be docked to a keyboard and clamshell designs with two screens, such as the MSI prototypes demonstrated at the International Consumer Electronics Show-promise to revolutionize electronic support of collaborative work.
Several questions about these devices come to mind. Who will own the major sockets once tablets enter the mainstream? Whose CPU will be the go-to processor for powering such a device-will it be Intel's Atom, or will ARM find its cores in use? Which companies and technologies should we be watching?
When I got the iPad, Acer's Aspire One netbook had already been collecting dust in my desk drawer for more than a year. I had never made good use of the Acer netbook; the screen felt small and clumsy, with its Windows panels and other accessories, and even for casual Web browsing, I preferred my larger laptop.
The iPad manages screen real estate much more carefully. The ability to rotate the screen to find the right orientation for the task at hand is a great feature; combined with Apple's famous interface to pan and zoom via touchscreen finger gestures, it allows me to browse almost as comfortably as I can when using my 24-inch desktop monitor.
But would the iPad have enough power to enable me to work with business applications, which nowadays are predominantly Web-based? To determine this, I ran some software-based system testing.