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Dr Dale Miles - learndigital.net
Dr. Dale Miles


Tablet PCs: "Take One or Two, but Don't Call Me in the Morning"

Dale A. Miles DDS, MS, FRCD
Diplomate, ABOMR
Disclaimer: I am not implying I'm a technical wizard but here are my thoughts on "Tablet PCs".

Recently "LAPTOP" magazine reviewed 5 Tablet PCs. These were:

  • Toshiba Portege 3500 ($2,499); 4.1 lbs.
  • Acer TravelMate C102Ti ($2,199); 3.1 lbs.
  • Fujitsu Stylistic ST4000 ($2,299), 3.2 lbs.
  • Motion M1200 Tablet PC ($2,099); 3.0 lbs.
  • ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100 ($1,999); 3.4 lbs

Which one of these (or lesser models most likely) will be sold to you as the "latest and greatest" computer technology is anyone's guess.

"Perfect for the roving office worker or anyone shuffling notepads", goes the article. How many dental assistants or even receptionists think of themselves as a "roving office worker"? No one in the dental office "shuffles notepads", instrument trays, x-ray mounts and handpieces maybe, but NOT paper pads. Isn't the goal of the dentist "Going Digital" to eliminate (or at least reduce) paper, and streamline the in put to the practice management system by having a CPU chairside?

All right I know what you're thinking. Isn't a tablet PC just the item to have in each office? Sure if you want to spend $2000/operatory instead of $699!

Here are 12 reasons not to adopt these computers just yet, because some of you are thinking that you won't need as many computers with a "portable" one.

1. Having to take it from operatory to operatory
2. Possibly forgetting it in the "last" operatory
3. Needing the PC in 2 operatories at once
4. Dropping it
5. Much higher cost than networked "clones"
6. 1.3 Hz maximum speed (most are Pentium III, 800 MHz)
7. Needing a docking station for secure data transfer (increases cost again)
8. Battery life (maximum I could find was 3:29 hours)
9. Weight…it's NOT like carrying a PDA (see the poundage above)
10. Screen sizes (most are 10.4 inches)
11. Some do not have keyboards
12. Disinfection may be more problematic, since the unit "travels"

Does this mean I am anti-tablet PC? Not at all. I think that a Tablet PC may have a place in the office. You can certainly haul a lot more data home each night. If loaded with PM software, it might be a nice chairside tool for data entry by the assistant to chart if the office is small. The wireless transfer allowed by some is attractive. I just wouldn't store the data for too long on the Tablet PC.

In Summary, I think that these PCs are attractive, stylish ultraportable laptops that may be useful to some, but not all dental environments. "Writing" the data into a computer rather than entering by "keystrokes" may be necessary for some workplace personnel. But I, for one, am sticking with a dedicated CPU in each operatory with larger display capability, hardwire linkage to the office network and much cheaper cost…at least at this time.


© Dr Dale Miles DDS, MS, FRCD
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