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Can I use a tablet for VDI?

Technology-wise, it's possible to access a virtual desktop from a tablet, but the user experience may not be ideal. On the other hand, if you have a mouse and keyboard hooked up to the tablet, it can be a great way to access VDI.

The technology to connect to a virtual desktop from a tablet computer exists, but whether tablets are viable daily drivers in VDI environments depends on the device.

It should be no surprise to IT administrators that employees want to use their tablets to access virtual desktops. Tablets have become a standard medium for personal productivity: Portability and exceptional battery life, coupled with workloads ideal for tablets -- email, Web browsing and apps -- have created the illusion that everything is easier on a tablet.

Not long ago, it would have been very hard to make virtual desktop access on a tablet work. Configuring tablets for occasional use was another way to make a VDI more accessible, but it wasn't right for regular day-to-day work, due in part to a difficult user experience. Line of business applications that require mouse and keyboard input are often hard to use on a tablet.

Choose the right tablet for VDI

Today, many big manufacturers make tablets that are usable in the workplace because they have enterprise-grade operating systems, as well as keyboards and mice that help improve the virtual desktop experience.

Take, for example, the Dell Venue 11 Pro. It's a Windows 8 tablet with a whole ecosystem of accessories to make it more work-friendly. Most tablets have accessory keyboards, but the Venue can also use a Bluetooth mouse. It also has a docking station with a normal keyboard, as well as output video to dual monitors. Venue users get all the benefits of a tablet, and they can still dock it at home or at work to have functionality that's equivalent to what they get on a normal PC. The end result is that users can have a single device at home and at the office, which offers the best of conventional computing combined with the mobility and battery life of a tablet.

Dell isn't the only company doing this either. Microsoft -- with its Surface line -- and a host of Android tablet manufacturers, such as ASUS and Samsung, also have enterprise-worthy, VDI-friendly tablets. There are even some third-party vendors that offer docks and accessories for tablets such as Apple's iPad that make them much more viable at work.

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