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Mobile workforce will soon demand iPad-type tablets

If ever there was a no-brainer reason to get an iPad, or some kind of equivalent thin tablet computer that will be coming soon from HP or Dell, it’s as a journalist covering a remote assignment.

Laptops just don’t make sense anymore for the mobile workforce, or any on-the-go professional who needs the ability to take notes, send and receive email and look up information anytime, anywhere. Laptops weigh too much, they don’t have enough battery life, and connectivity is always a struggle (my experience with broadband access cards is that they are buggy and not reliable).

This is an old story, and I’ve been covering the technology for many years, but this revelation dawned on me like one of those narcissists in the Windows 7 “is my idea” commercials.

I was in Phoenix last week for the CHIME Fall CIO Forum and typing session notes into my laptop, but after about two hours the battery was critically low, and I was forced to find a new spot and plug in. When the time came to send in some copy, there was no Wi-Fi in the conference area of the hotel (events rarely treat their attendees to wireless because of extortionist fees charged by most hotel chains).

I had to go into the hotel lobby to find open Wi-Fi, but then couldn’t find an outlet to plug in my laptop. I had to lug everything back to my room, which had an outlet and a hard line — for $12.95 a day.

See what I mean?

A 3G-equipped iPad is light, long-lasting and can connect anywhere. This should be standard equipment, but everyone I spoke to at the conference about the iPad said they had to buy one themselves.

I realize I’m a little late to the party here, since more than 4 million iPads have already been sold. But considering the pace of business and the growth of the mobile workforce, the standard laptop is beginning to look like the desktop of yesteryear. Consider that when planning for your mobile workforce. Not in the future, but now.

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