The Electronic Lab Notebook’s last frontier for the is the laboratory bench, and historically companies have explored a variety of solutions although I don’t think anyone would claim to have the perfect solution yet.
Comparing a recent ruggedised tablet with an iPad shows why the iPad is so interesting for accessing an ELN from the benchtop.
The latest PC Pro magazine has a review of the Motion Computing J3500 which is a ruggedised PC with a touch screen which I guess would be one of the devices you might consider if you wanted a PC in the lab. At £2,253 (ex VAT) it isn’t cheap, battery life is just over 4 hours, and it is going to take a lot of bench space.
Compare that to an iPad which is £365 (ex VAT), a battery that will last most if not all of the day, much more portable, doesn’t take up nearly as much space on the benchtop and can be placed in a protective plastic bag if desired.
The difference in price, form factor and battery life is stark, and I suspect the iPad will be a lot cheaper to manage from an IT perspective. Given the move to web-based systems I can’t see there’s much the iPad is missing in terms of functionality either.
And that is why we’re excited about the iPad…. and it is too small to be used as a tray which is a concern with Tablet PCs!