Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Libraries and Tablets

I hope to write an article on libraries and tablets. The article is very timely and significant given a recent comment by one of the inventors of the PC that indicates that the personal computer era is over.

"IBM PC daddy: 'The PC era is over': Chucks own invention into vinyl record bin"
By Rik Myslewski in San Francisco
The Register

12th August 2011 16:39 GMT

I also think it is worthwhile for members of the profession to take this opportunity to familiarise themselves with these new electronic devices that our future users will be using to access information. You may even want to consider purchasing some for your libraries instead of those heavy laptops (that require plugs and electrical outlets) and consider these as the better option for providing access to an e-book collection. The tablet does have the potential to change how we interact with our users. The PC, DVDs, CDS, flash drives may become relics of the past if our users migrate to tablets.In addition, libraries may need to create applications for the app stores to enable library software functionality on user owned tablet and mobile devices.

I attended a seminar on the applications of Tablet technology put on by a local electronic and computer superstore, Watts New on July 27, 2011 in Kingston, Jamaica. The seminar was presented under the theme: "2011: the year of 'the tablet'". I want to share in that article, my reflections and reactions to what I learned at that seminar.

 I think that one of the approaches that I will use in that article is to start with stone tablets, as these were the very first tablets that libraries were concerned with. So perhaps I may give the article the subtitle: From stone to electronic. I perhaps will then discuss the evolution towards tablets discussing the Palm pilot and other hand held PCs and then the smart and i-phones (the first evolutions of the mobile PCs).

However, just some quick notes:

1. Tablets are good for presentation purposes (especially if there are large flat screen TVs with HDMI connections). I learned and saw the usefulness of a tablet for keynote and major speaking applications.Hence the weighty laptop can be replaced with the tablet, and the projector with the television display screen with HDMI connection.

2. I also saw tablets being useful for interactive exhibitions. Tablets permit touch and interactivity.

3. Tablet devices are not really a stand alone devices but work best when connected to cloud and cloud services

4. can be used for note taking in meeting with note applications. 

5. Tablets promise the continuous availability of information.

6. Allows for access to the latest subscription to an e-resource such as electronic newspaper.

 7. One can back up online on the PC, on phone and on external drive, and use the tablet device to access documents in cloud storage

8. Tablets need applications or apps. They are useless without them. However, tablet come without many apps, and allow you the user to shop for/download the application that you want or need.

 I also will discuss in the article the categories of tablets.

Tablets are currently categoriesd by OS. They can be
  • Apple based
  • Android based
  • Blackberry based
  • Windows Mobile based
Blackberry playbook was presented on by a guest speaker. The device promises the the ability to reduce clutter on one's desk and allow one to be less disorganised by having everything in one organised device.Convenience and mobiltiy are also key features.

Its With - 7.6" and Height 5.1".It features a Micro HDMI port and a Micro USB port. It also has a OS and processor that permits multi-processing  and/or multitasking capabilities.

It has 4 buttons:
  • power
  • media control
  • volume controls
Data transfer to other devices is made possible by its micro USB port that connects with phones, while the micro HDMI port connects to video allowing for output on a large  display.

It does not carry however a SIM card.

The design was developed by QNX.

The device promises an uncompromised Web experience.

With BlackBerry Bridge application, one can wirelessly connect to Blackberry smartphone, hereby allowing for connection with the data services of the phone. As such, one can sync calendar with Blackberry phone and use cloud computing storage such as Dropbox to share files across other varied devices.

Apple based Tablets - iPad and iPad2

The iPad and its newer devices promise the portability and interface of the iPhone with the functionality of the laptop. (Or the mobility of the iPhone and the robustness of the OS of the laptop).

One can browse email, photo, watch videos, read eBooks, listen to music and play games.

iPad released January 2010, with the height of 9.5",  0.5 " thin and weighing 1.5 lbs, with 256 Mb.

iPad 2 released March 2011 with 0.3" thin, weighing 1.3 lbs and with 512 mb.

The newer device comes with longer battery life, 2 cameras (front and rear), a dual core processor and faster graphics.

iPad2 compatible with a wireless printer and can be integrated with other devices from other mnanufacturers.

iPad also provides oppportunity for software for multiple email account management

An Android based tablet based on Android 3.1 and the Honeycomb is10.1" in height.

Posses a camera, mini HDMI port, a charger port, micro SD card slot as wellas a SIM card slot, a mini-USB port.

It promises the feature of being able to watch video for 9.3 hours with a fully charged battery,.

TIPS for purchasing tablets
  1. identify the reason for tablet - the purpose or use
  2. research what is available and how it can meet your needs.
  3. invesitgate the product support 
  4. check out the app store (what software applications are available to your tablet)
When you purchase a tablet, know that upgrade in terms of hardware might be difficult, but easy when it comes to software, as you can just get new software from the app store. For hardware upgrades, you may just need to purchase newer versions.

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