SideXSide: Choosing the Right Tablet for Your Enterprise

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 12-22-2010
The tablet market is dominated by a handful of devices. Chief among them, of course, is the Apple iPad. But, through early 2011, several more companies will join the tablet computer fray in an attempt to capitalize on that space and steal some market share away from Apple. Whether or not those products will be successful is anyone's guess at this point. If anything is clear, it's that the tablet market, at least for the foreseeable future, will be one to watch.

That's especially true for the average CIO. Companies today are realizing that providing employees with tablets isn't such an outlandish idea. Not only do slates provide outstanding mobility opportunities, but they can deliver on hopes for cost-savings and improving productivity compared with convention notebooks for some users. However, they don't come without issues of their own, especially with the potential for productivity losses if users start to play with entertainment-focused tablets.

Read on to find out some key aspects of the tablets that are available today and will be available in the coming year. This should help you narrow your choices when you finally decide to bring tablets to your operation.

SideXSide: Choosing the Right Tablets for Your Enterprise

Features 

Apple iPad

Samsung Galaxy Tab 

HP Slate 500

Cisco Cius 

RIM PlayBook

Operating system

iOS 4

Android 2.2

Windows 7  

Android 

Blackberry Tablet OS

Connectivity options

Wi-Fi only in some models, Wi-Fi and 3G in more expensive models. Available on Verizon and AT&T.

Wi-Fi, and 3G available on all major carriers.

Wi-Fi-only.

Expected to have both Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities built-in.

Wi-Fi-only out of the box, with 3G and potentially 4G to be made available over time.

Office editing 

Yes, through native application or with the help of third-party programs.  

Comes with ThinkFree Office Mobile to edit Office documents. 

Boasts support for a full version of Office, thanks to Windows 7. 

Likely will have Office document editing through the help of third-party applications, like the Galaxy Tab. 

The PlayBook will be shipping with Office editing capabilities.

Productivity 

A mixed bag. The 3G capabilities help, but the device is decidedly consumer- focused when apps are factored in.

Features multitasking, which should help, but Android still has some design flaws and quirks that might hold employees up. 

Features a full version of Windows 7, providing employees with the same OS environment they're used to. 

The Cius will likely run Android 3.0. At this point, little is known about the mobile OS, and IT staff should evaluate it before deploying.

Features a new, unproven operating system. IT staff should evaluate it prior to deploying.

Integration with existing infrastructure  

Simple functionality: back up contents to PCs, able to access network. 

Simple functionality: back up contents to PCs, able to access network.   

Windows 7 turns it into any other PC in the office, giving it equal functionality.    

Can be integrated into Cisco products to double as a video-conferencing tool and other options.  

Will connect to BlackBerry Enterprise Server and will likely operate as any BlackBerry smartphone.

IT Control  

Features full administrative control, including access to programs and allowed content.   

Remote wipe is available, but remote application management is still lacking. 

Full control that IT staff employs on Windows PCs in their operations.

Unknown. Will likely offer more IT control than existing Android-based devices.   

 Full details are currently unknown, but will likely feature most (if not all) controls found on BlackBerry smartphones.

Business apps availability 

Several, thanks to App Store. However, beware of many more consumer-focused apps.   

Android Market is so far, designed for smartphones, leaving the Galaxy Tab out.   

Ability to install standard Windows programs on device, thanks to Windows 7.

Will likely feature apps designed for tablets, and made available through Android Market.

BlackBerry App World will feature apps designed specifically for the tablet.

Multitasking

Yes, but it was only recently implemented.  

Yes

Yes

Will have multitasking. 

Will have multitasking. 

Security concerns 

Phishing and network attacks are possible, but Windows-focused malware cannot hurt it. 

Phishing and network attacks are possible. Concerns are also arising over security of Android apps.

 Can be targeted by Windows-focused malware. Phishing and network attacks are also possible. 

Phishing and network concerns will be a concern. However, OS-based issues are unknown. 

Phishing and network concerns will be a concern. However, OS-based issues are unknown. 

Price

Starts at $499

Starts at $399, depending on data plan  

Starts at $799

Unknown

Unknown

Source: CIO Insight