Friday, August 28, 2009

Frustrated with the Tablet PC market and Best Buy in particular

If you have read this blog or know me then you know that I am a big proponent of Tablet PCs or laptops that have a digital pen input option. Having a pen on the mobile computer makes so much sense for taking notes and presenting, especially in quantitatively demanded disciplines. I use a Tablet PC in each class I teach and in my graduate classes in statistics and econometrics each of my students have Tablet PCs. So yesterday I am at Best Buy looking at the only pen enabled PC they have. The pen is gone and the sales staff have no idea where it is. Nothing in the signage points out that it is any different than any other laptop near it. The sales clerk says in all his years no one has ever asked for a Tablet PC, they just say they want a laptop. I pointed out that they do not carry more than the one (a nice multi-touch HP) and never do anything to market. He argues it is a niche market and there are too many varieties to carry them. I was incredulous as I looked at the wide variety of laptops stretching on for hundreds of feet of counter. Why carry even one and he pulls out the small included multimedia remote control and says this is why. I wanted to scream or at least be unpleasant. I simply left disappointed and disgusted. But it not just BestBuy, none of the big box stores in our area carries the Tablets, no one markets them to students. no one says "you want a pen with your laptop?"

I went home and looked at and found their laptop discovery tool. My choices are price, speed, and other items, but not anything about the input device. Tablet PCs do not exist in Best Buy's thinking. Why?

I can not imagine a better feature for students. I have advised a youth heading off to college that a mobile lightweight tablet would be of great value to him, but he ends up getting the laptop with the largest screen possible and weighing what can only be a desktop computer. I have tried to influence young professors and one gets a desktop. I am frustrated with the marketers, the big box stores, and students and faculty alike that do not see the value of a simple attachment of a pen to their notebook. Where are the Tablets so one can see and touch them? Where is the store that guides people to understand there is an option and to help them see if it is for them?

Now where is my netbook with a pen?


  1. You are a pioneer. If you had (say) 50 3-minute YouTube screencasts ( on how you teach better with a laptop, step by step, that would help get out the story.

    Get some students to do the same.

    Set up a YouTube channel.

  2. Sir, Being a professor, you might advise to these tablet manufacturers to include the vareity of options required for better presentation.