A New Tablet: Wait or Buy Now? [Update]

A New Tablet: Wait or Buy Now? [Update]

There’s no question that tablets have a firm foot hold in healthcare. They’re used in a variety of settings across many different disciplines with the goal of improving patient care. I’m an advocate for streamlining a multitude of processes and eliminating paperwork is one of them. I realize that paper charting has its benefits but the glaring downside as our patient population grows is where to archive it all and more importantly how can we share this information with other professionals who may need historical data to make a clinical decision.

So, if you’re in the market for a new tablet either because you’re a new adopter of this technology or in need of an upgrade, you might be wondering if you should make the investment now or wait until the next iterations are launched. Of course you’re probably not as obsessed passionate about keeping up with the latest technologies like I am. So, hopefully this “passion” to stay informed will help you decide on your next purchase.

Now I’ve been using tablets in and out of my business since the first iPad, however I’ll admit I didn’t adopt this first generation tablet until the second generation launched. I actually wanted to make sure I was able to use this device as a tool to improve my workflow. The simple answer is that I did, and still use them today.

As I was saying, I tend to frequent the multiple technology rumor sites to help me make decisions about upcoming technology purchases and I wanted to share some of this rumored knowledge with community here.

Two of the big contenders and most talked about tablets currently in the space are Google’s Nexus 7 and the Apple iPad. Now the Nexus 7 as its name infers has a 7″ touchscreen whereas the iPad has a 9.7″ touchscreen, but of course Apple does in fact have their iPad mini lineup that houses a 7.9″ screen. All three of these devices are on the brink of a refresh and if you’re willing to wait just a little longer, you could either have an opportunity to score a deal on the previous version or fancy yourself with the latest additions to these lineups.

Apple iPad and iPad mini

Apple’s iPad and iPad mini are both ripe for an upgrade, but it’s rumored that the 9.7″ model will be plucked from the Apple tree around September. Apple’s iPad mini version, which should not be confused with a small crab apple, as it is packed with enough technology “nutrients” as many of the tablets on the market and is quite a robust offering is rumored to be announced either later this year and possibly even early next year. This delayed launch for the mini is due to some manufacturing hangups that Apple is experiencing, although I’ve got my fingers crossed that they might surprise us in September.

The Nexus 7 has been rated as the best Android tablet on the market since its launch last July and it can still hold its own with many of the Android tablets that have been launched even just a few short months ago, but with any piece of hardware there’s always a demand for more and the technologies change so rapidly. In fact, I just upgraded my computer while in the middle of writing this post.

I kid! I kid!

Nexus7

Okay, so why wait if you need a device now?

The current iPad mini does not have the same Retina Display that’s featured on the iPad 3 or iPad 4. The iPad mini screen is not at all hard on the eyes. It’s still a beautiful display, but the content appears to jump off the screen when viewing a Retina Display.

To give you some specs to think about, the current iPad mini has a 1024 x 768 screen resolution that translates to 163 pixels per inch (ppi). The second generation iPad mini is rumored to have a Retina Display, and the likely screen specs would contain a 2048 x 1536 resolution, which essentially doubles the pixel density at 324 ppi. This of course isn’t the only reason to wait as I’m sure Apple will also make a few other upgrades, but this is the ONE feature that many consumers have been waiting for on the mini.

Price point:

The current Apple iPad has an entry of $499 for the 16GB model, and the iPad mini’s entry is at $329 also for the 16GB version. The refresh will not likely be followed by lower pricing as Apple has been pretty consistent, although there’s hope that the entry level 16GB might actually get bumped to a minimum of 32GB. This may be wishful thinking as manufacturers are really embracing the idea that consumers are heading more into the cloud and don’t necessarily need the space on the device, but there’s still quite a few arguments for higher storage capacity.

The Nexus 7 device comes in at a more “reasonable” entry at $199 for the 16GB version and $249 for the 32GB. To give you some frame of reference in relation to the iPad, the Nexus 10 (10″ version) comes in at $399 for the 16GB version, but I am unaware of a refresh coming in the next couple of months.

An additional rumor that I did want to share however is that although Apple’s pricing is essentially the same year-over-year, there’s a chance that we might see a slight drop in price for the iPad mini to compete with the other 7″ tablets, but if the mini does in fact feature the Retina Display then this price drop may be small.

The technology:

As with any new technology, we can most likely expect faster processors, higher camera resolutions, advanced wireless technology, and a bump in battery power from these devices. The refreshed Nexus 7 is expected to have a rear facing camera, which it does not currently have and is a feature request by many consumers. I’m personally not one for snapping personal photos on a tablet, however I will say that this is a great feature when using it in the healthcare space.

There have been a few occasions where I’ve had to take photos (with my patient’s consent) that accompany a clinical note, which I can document right from the tablet. I can then refer back to these photos when I see the patient for follow up.

These devices will more than likely be thinner, lighter, or have some type of hardware improvement that will increase the usability.

So if you think you can hold out just a little longer on these devices before upgrading or entering the space, I’d make a strong argument to wait, although I will say that you will not be disappointed by the current tablets’ performance in the least.

Update: I just so happen to get some updated news from MacRumors via the Taiwan’s Economic Daily  that Apple is going to have to push back the release of the iPad Mini with Retina display until the beginning of 2014. If you follow the rumors they’re pretty much all over the place as to when the release will occur, but this is just the latest addition to the growing list.

Apparently Apple is having a difficult time with securing the needed Retina panels for the upgrade to make it happen for this year.

To build on the rumor it’s said that Apple may offer an incremental update to the iPad mini line, but it won’t include the Retina Display although I’m sure Apple will at least be able to increase the resolution just a bit. With the recent influx of new tablets hitting the market it seems that it would be in Apple’s best interest to offer some type of upgrade with the mini especially as we start approaching the holiday season.

So when your head stops spinning from the rumors, and if you are in the market for a new tablet, which one do you think you will make an investment in? Will you hold out for the updated iPad mini even if it’s slated for a 2014 release?

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