Ahh, it used to be so simple. Most employees used computers seated firmly on their desktops, with laptops reserved for a few road-warriors. Of course, the day came when most employees were getting laptop computers, and then, suddenly, there were tablets. It was complicated, but IT managers figured it out... just in time for the convertibles to arrive.
Convertibles combine a notebook computer with:
- A detachable touchscreen that can be used as a tablet, or
- A screen that flips over to make a tablet with a hidden keyboard
Should employees get what they want?
IT managers have certainly been receiving requests for these devices, but does their functionality make them worth any difference in purchase price and TCO?
For the staff whose jobs require a great deal of work to be done while standing interspersed with detailed data entry, a convertible adds tremendous value. The ability to work with forms and simple data entry while standing and use a physical keyboard for dedicated data entry is a powerful productivity boost (assuming you have applications to take advantage of the combination).
Software productivity boosts
If the IT group has taken the time to supply software that is optimized for touchscreens, employees’ productivity (and customer service) might skyrocket.
Productivity is one of the major beneficiaries of the convertible's laptop phase. There is no real argument against the proposition that a physical keyboard allows for much faster and more accurate data entry than a touchscreen virtual keyboard. Even if a given employee doesn't know touch-typing, they can enter critical data more productively with real keys under their fingers.
So why not a convertible?
With the benefits listed here, why would an IT department choose any configuration other than the convertible for new deployments? Leaving cost aside, there are a couple of very serious issues that might keep convertibles from being the device for every employee in every situation.
If an employee is going to be on a shop floor or in a standing position full-time, they'll notice the weight of a convertible. They're likely to be unable to support its weight for the entire day. The extra weight becomes a serious penalty, especially if there's no requirement for the components that are bulking up the machine.
If an employee will spend their workdays at a desk with no stand-up work, a convertible will act as a workstation with far less computing power than most laptops of similar price. Giving up useful speed and capabilities for configuration options that will be used rarely, if ever, is not a rational way to use hardware funds.
Convertibles are likely one of the paths into the computing future. They can be a productive path for your organization if you pick the right spots for deployment and ensure the back-end applications are tablet-ready.