The Wide World of Tablets

By Stephanie Blanchard, Digital Editor & Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — January 08, 2014

At the 2014 International CES wearables, curved TVs the size of a New York City apartment, celebrity headphones and gaming gone to the cloud are stealing many of the headlines, but what matters right now to business are the slew of consumer devices that will make it to work and have to be added to the IT support list.

Top on that list are likely to be tablets, because after all, it’s a tablet world in the enterprise right?  Yes and no—judging some recent research and by what’s coming out at the show, hybrid devices are in demand and tablets are not just standing on their own anymore.

The majority of consumers (52%), according to Accenture’s Digital Tech Survey, who plan to buy a traditional smartphone in the next year indicated they would prefer a phablet;  but 40%, will buy a regular tablet.
 
The devices released this week seemed to be designed with business functionality in mind — from detachable form factors and pre-loaded enterprise-grade platforms built in, to the ability to sync with devices throughout the mobile ecosystem and even the desktop.

Samsung
Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy NotePRO and TabPRO line of tablets, the former available in a 12.2 inch form factor, the latter offering three sizes, ranging from 12.2 (left) to 8.4 inches.

With intent on “redefining what a tablet can do,” a form factor normally known for just consumption, the new line of devices packs in performance for all case scenarios. A larger viewing area, of course, allows for a larger working area, as more mobile users employ tablets to not just access data, but create. The multi-window splits the screen into four parts, while a virtual keyboard is designed to be comfortable, not cramped.

Speaking of which, Logitech launched its Logitech PRO specifically for the new devices. With a slim protective case, the product offers a full-size, built-in Bluetooth keyboard.

The NotePro also comes with the S Pen.

Users for both the NotePRO and TabPro can access and control their home or office PC directly through Remote PC — in order to edit and save files remotely. Notable for mobile employers, both the Galaxy NotePRO and TabPRO are pre-loaded with the Cisco WebEx Meetings platform, a web conferencing solution.

Users can now share anything on their screen as well as starting a WebEx meeting from contact list. Samsung e-Meeting also provides collaboration capabilities by giving users the ability to share content during a meeting without having to access a central server or network.

Connectivity options span the gamut: Wi-Fi Only, Wi-Fi and 3G, or Wi-Fi and LTE, and various peripherals are available, from a Universal Keyboard to an S Action Mouse, depending on the model.

Lenovo
On display were the third generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon, a 14-inch ultrabook weighing in at 2.8 pounds, and the ThinkPad 8, a premium 8 inch tablet (left).

Start with the tablet. Constructed of machine-cut aluminum, the compact ThinkPad 8 is powered by the Intel Bay Trail Quad Core processor, and features up to 128GB of storage, a microUSB 3.0 port, LTE2 connectivity and a full Windows8 Pro experience for professional needs.

Users can opt for its Tablet Mode on the go or connect it to the optional keyboard base, dock or monitor for Desktop Mode. Or flip its optional Quickshot Cover over the tablet to convert into Tent Mode.

The Quickshot cover lets users peel back the tablet’s cover to expose an 8 MP high definition camera, triggering the camera app to open. Once captured, users can view and edit their photos and videos on the 8.3 inch 1920x1200 display and transfer them wirelessly using Miracast technology or view them via a cable using its microHDMI port.

As for the Ultrabook, the new device features an adaptive keyboard, which dynamically adjusts based on the software or application being used. The Carbon also integrates voice and gesture control, allowing users to interact with their PC in modern and familiar ways, while a ColorBurst Display provides sharper, brighter images at higher resolutions with better viewing angles. Rapid Charge technology provides an 80% charge in under an hour while battery life has improved, now at 9 hours (over 70% improvement from the last generation). Optional built-in 4G capability.

The new X1 Carbon also utilizes the OneLink connector that eliminates cable clutter. This allows users to get power, Gigabit Ethernet, and dual display support through a single cable via ThinkPad OneLink docking solutions.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon starts at $1299 and availability will begin late January. ThinkPad 8 convertible tablet configure to order models start at $399 and Topseller models start at $429 and will be available late January. The OneLink Dock Pro is available now at $179.

Panasonic
Panasonic introduced the latest member of its Toughpad family of rugged, enterprise-grade tablets. Weighing in at 1.2 pounds, the Toughpad FZ-M1 is the company’s thinnest and lightest rugged 7-inch tablet yet.

Featuring a 4th generation Intel Core i5 processor, and running Windows 8.1 Pro, the FZ-M1 is designed for mission critical workers.  With a broad range of configuration options available, it can be customized to meet the needs of mobile professionals in various markets, from field services and sales to retail, supply chain and logistics, and government. An Intel Celeron processor model will also be available for cost-sensitive applications.

Designed to improve productivity and efficiency in a host of professional scenarios, the Toughpad FZ-M1 enables customer service, inventory management and asset tracking, maintenance, eForms, route delivery, eCitations, electronic medical records, inspections, mobile point-of-sales and geographic information system (GIS).

Its user-replaceable battery delivers 8 hours of uninterrupted work, with quick-charging technology that reaches 100% capacity in two and a half hours. An optional high capacity battery delivers 16 hours of power, and an optional bridge battery enables users to switch out batteries without powering down the device.

The fully-rugged design is tested to meet MIL-STD-810G specifications for drops (up to 5 feet), shock, vibration, altitude, humidity and extreme temperatures. The fanless design allows it to meet IP65 standards for rain and dust. The tablet has also been submitted for ANSI 12.12.1 certification (Class1, Div2) for use in incendiary environments.

A daylight-readable WXGA display features an anti-reflective screen treatment, and the high-sensitivity capacitive, 10-point multi-touch screen can be used with thick industrial-type gloves. An optional stylus is available for signature capture and similar applications.

Configuration options include dedicated GPS, Barcode reader, Ethernet or serial port; and a choice of near field communications (NFC), SmartCard reader, UHF radio-frequency identification (RFID) (up to 10 ft. range), or Magnetic Stripe reader. In addition, the Toughpad FZ-M1 offers 4G LTE multi-carrier embedded wireless broadband connectivity, enabling IT administrators to switch carriers via software to select the best 4G LTE carrier for their workers for any geographic area.


HP

Wait, desktops? Aren’t they relegated to the land of dinosaurs? Not yet. HP showcased its new commercial PC products, one of which is the Slate21 Pro AiO, HP’s first Android all-in-one business desktop.

The device offers seamless integration with Android-based phones and tablets with auto-syncing and Google Cloud Services. It also provides access to manageability tools, security enhancements and apps available through Google Play.

“The HP AiO PCs announced today highlight how businesses of any size can increase employee productivity by leveraging the growing Android ecosystem, all while being budget friendly,” said Enrique Lores, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Commercial PCs, HP.

The Android-powered HP Slate21 Pro AiO features a 21.5-inch diagonal Full HD IPS touch screen with wide 178-degree viewing angles, plus an intuitive Android touch experience. Its stand design allows up to 70 degrees of adjustable recline and optional VESA mounting. Running on Android 4.3, the device is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra® 4 quad-core processor. Connectivity available is 8.11 a/b/g/n dual band wireless and Bluetooth 4.0.

Certified Citrix ready and HDX verified, the business Android AiO also delivers a virtual workspace with secure data and Windows application support via Citrix Receiver, allowing users to access apps without compromising security. Users also can toggle easily between the Android environment and content displayed from a Windows PC.

The HP Slate21 Pro AiO is available on March 6, 2014 in the United States with a starting price of $399, including keyboard and mouse.

ASUS
The new PadFone X, available through AT&T, is a smartphone and tablet in one. Pricing and availability have not been announced but the latest device is geared for the U.S. market. Featuring a 5-inch full HD smartphone that activates a 9-inch full HD tablet when the phone is docked, the PadFone runs on Android KitKat 4.4.

The PadFone X supports LTE-Advanced technology, including Carrier Aggregation. The new product also supports Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and HD Voice.

PadFone X features a Near-Field Communications (NFC) sensor that supports Isis Mobile Wallet, AT&T’s mobile payments system. Isis Mobile Wallet lets users make payments when used with a secure SIM card. Customers can use Isis Mobile Wallet to save money with special offers and redeem loyalty cards at participating merchants nationwide.

The companion PadFone X Station includes a large battery whichcharges the smartphone’s battery when docked, providing two times longer battery life. 


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