I got a question today from someone trying to decide between a Pocket PC and a Tablet PC. The question reminded me that these questions are extremely difficult to answer in the abstract. The key thing you must know is how you are planning to use it and for what purposes? The correct answer is always “it depends.” However, I put together a few thoughts and thought that they might be worth sharing.
Q: Please help me decide between a pocket PC and a tablet computer. I am leaning toward the pocket PC.
A: For what it’s worth, Bill Gates is using a Tablet PC.
This is a difficult question to answer in the abstract without knowing the intended use, but I won’t let that stop me.
Cost: The cost of a Pocket PC is 10 – 25% the cost of a tablet PC.
Maturity: Pocket PC technology has been around for quite a while. Tablet PCs are clearly generation 1 and improvements are expected in the fall. You are correct in saying that the Tablets did not sell like hotcakes, at least to this point.
Power: A tablet PC is the equivalent of a full-fledged notebook computer. Pocket PCs are much less powerful and are meant to be adjuncts to your main PC.
Apps: Tablet PCs can use any software that runs on Windows. Pocket PCs use “pocket” applet versions of the Office products. That may well be adequate, but you need to know that.
Here are a few rules of thumb:
1. If you are planning to buy a notebook anyway, a Tablet PC is only about $200 more, and, for that reason, deserves a close look.
2. The early consensus on Tablet PCs is that the best choice is a combo notebook/tablet.
3. For someone like a lawyer who likes to write on pads, Tablets deserve a close look.
4. I wouldn’t buy either type without going to a store and trying them out.
5. A Tablet PC would have the higher “cool factor.”
6. If you expect a Pocket PC to take the place of a notebook, you will be disappointed. Pocket PCs are best at enhancing your mobility and letting you synch data to the Pocket PC to carry with you.
7. Shopping on the Internet can net you some great bargains on Pocket PCs these days.
8. It is very easy to have unrealistic expectations with both Pocket PCs and Tablet PCs. A Tablet PC would be the more expensive disappointment.
Shopping tips:
I’m impressed with my Toshiba e740 Pocket PC. They have a newer version called the e750, that would be more current. The Compaq iPaq Pocket PCs are generally considered the top of the line products. The reasonably priced Dell Pocket PCs are also worth a look if you are looking for a more reasonable price. Also, consider buying a foldable keyboard for a Pocket PC to make it more versatile.