It is fair to say that the tablet personal computer has not enjoyed the kind of attention and mass appeal that was first envisaged by developers of the technology.
Somehow, the concept of using voice-and handwriting functionality within a mobile PC fell by the wayside amid the avalanche of compact, high capacity global mobile and wireless solution development and integration, writes Paul Luff, country manager, SMC Networks South Africa.
For years the portable tablet PC, equipped with a touch screen as the main interface and handwriting recognition, has struggled to keep up with the pervasive application of the laptop.
Mobile computing has largely been dominated by innovation within laptops, netbooks, smartphones and other peripheral devices. The introduction of high powered, high capacity mobile solutions to support the role of the mobile professional and is designed to reinforce the value of laptops.
But this is changing. There is evidence to suggest that the tablet PC or pad computing is growing, and the prediction is that it will, eventually, replace the laptop.
In the past the issues of cost, size and practicality has dogged widespread adoption of the tablet PCs and frustrated manufacturers.
User feedback suggested that the tablet PC felt cumbersome and impractical, that it was not cost competitive and typically lacked the power and capacity required to handle multimedia applications and high volume data management.
Ongoing focus on research and development has improved access to technology roadmaps and driven down costs.
In addition globally recognised vendors like Microsoft Windows, Apple and Android continue to compete for market share in platforms for tablet PCs, and are consistently trying to capture the attention of investors.
Whilst the market is growing, thanks to the maturity of offerings from these vendors, the prediction is that Microsoft will dominate due to volume and user base.
The rollout of products like iPad, the functionality and level of connectivity and ability to house applications indicates that the tablet PC has come into its own and is adding value, irrespective of the operating system in use.
Essentially, the tablet PC, as a solution, encapsulates everything that consumers want in mobile technology – versatility, memory, performance, flexibility, capacity and aesthetic quality.
It has advanced functionality, with Internet connectivity, the ability to support high volume multi-media transfer.
With a market that continues to witness the convergence of cloud computing, virtualisation, social networks and "triple play" into the modern network, there is no doubt that the tablet PC will grow in stature.
It will not be long before users see handwriting on PCs being interpreted and relayed instantaneously, and more users networking over the tablet.