A cheat sheet (and comparison guide) to the best tablets for docs.
Shopping for a tablet? Here are ten models physicians should consider, including a few notes on why they’re worthy of a doctor’s dollars (or aren’t). When choosing a tablet, keep in mind that larger, convertible ones are heavier and more expensive, but also more powerful than smaller, slimmer models. Looking for more on boosting patient satisfaction and utilizing tech tools to improve patient care? Join experts Rosemarie Nelson, Lucien W. Roberts, Elizabeth Woodcock, and others as they help improve your medical practice and your bottom line at Practice Rx, a new conference for physicians and office administrators. Join us May 2 & 3 in Newport Beach, Calif.Want more insider information? Read about physician Saroj Misra’s experience with the Dell Latitude 10, and how it compares with the Apple iPad mini. Or, check out our piece on the evolution of tablets for phyisicans. Â Â
The HP ElitePad, which runs on Windows 8, weighs just 1.38 pounds, and is equipped with an 8-megapixel camera, plus a 32 GB hard drive. Pros: The tablet has support for touch-, pen-, or voice-based input, so doctors can use it in any way that suits them. Built-in security features make it ideal for healthcare environments that have “bring your own device” (or BYOD) policies. These include a security credential manager, password manager, computer trace technology, and encryption capabilities. Cons: The lighter the device, the easier to snatch by thieves. Also, while some say Windows is easier to use, there are fewer Windows apps than iOS apps.
Dell Latitude 10, which runs on Windows 8, offers enterprise-class security features, including a fingerprint and smart card reader, as well as dual-authentication and computer-tracing technology. With 20 hours of battery life, physicians don’t have to worry about recharging every night. The device sports a 1.8 GHZ Intel Atom processor, and expands to a traditional desktop setup, and can connect to a monitor, printer, MP3 player or other devices via four USB ports. Pros: For physicians who prefer the Windows experience on a touchscreen interface and HD display, this tablet is ideal. And at 10.5 millimeters and 658 grams, it’s nice and light. Cons: All of these great features are a little pricy. The tablet costs about $1,500 before rebates and discounts.
Apple iPad mini, a sidekick to Apple’s flagship iPad, packs a powerful punch - up to 64 GB of storage tucked into a 7.87-inch x 5.3-inch machine that weighs just .68 pounds. The device offers 1024 x 768 resolution at 163 pixels per inch, plus fingerprint-resistant coating and a FaceTime HD camera for video calling over Wi-Fi or cellular networks. Pros: This tablet is the perfect size for fitting into a doctor’s lab coat, and is equipped with a 1GHz Apple A5 dual-core processor, so actions are pretty fast. Also, there are more iPad-native apps than for any other operating system.Cons: Images and video may not be as easy to see/manipulate as they are on the traditional iPad. Also, other reviewers have noted that while there are 512 GB of RAM and choices of 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of internal storage, these options are non-expandable if you want an upgrade. This is not the case with other similar small tablets.
Panasonic Toughpad comprises a collection of rugged tablet computers targeting healthcare workers - who need a device that can withstand bumps and drops. It includes the Toughpad AZ-A1, a 10-inch Android tablet that offers enterprise-level security and other “business class” features; the new Toughpad JT-B1, a smaller, 7-inch Android-powered unit; or the Toughpad FZ-G1, a 10-inch, Windows 8 tablet. Pros: Toughpad tablets are designed to help physicians access and update EHRs while in the office, on the road, or elsewhere. If your job involves a lot of running around and exposure to spills, or you’ve experienced the spider-screen horror of consumer-grade tablets, this could be your best investment. They’re also fully sealed and easy to disinfect, according to Panasonic. Cons: The Toughpad tablets are powerful, but also, potentially, slightly annoying to carry when compared with lighter tablets. The heaviest 10-inch Toughpad FZ-G1 weighs 2.5 pounds, while the lightest Toughpad, the JT-B1, is 1.2 pounds (about twice the iPad Mini).
The 20-inch Panasonic Ultra-HD 4K, also featuring Windows 8, has twice the resolution of most smaller tablets. Pros: The size. The new 20-inch Ultra-HD 4K tablet offers awesome resolution that trumps other models (3840 x 2560, 9.83 million pixels) so physicians can see greater detail in medical images. It also offers a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5 4 GB of RAM, while the pen input feature allows for handwriting and annotation on the tablet. Cons: The size. Do you really want to carry around a 20-inch tablet? It’s a question any physician should consider.
The original Apple iPad is the most popular tablet among U.S. physicians for a number of reasons. First, it’s a sleek-looking product. Both the iPad 2 and the newer iPad with retina display offer a 9.7 inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen multi touch display with IPS technology - underneath a fingerprint-resistant coating. The 1.33-pound device comes with a built-in 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, and up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi Fi, watching video, or listening to music.Pros: In a word, apps. More developers and EHR vendors have created technology that conforms to iOS specifications. It’s also the tablet most compatible with Apple’s iPhone, another physician favorite. Cons: The lack of a keyboard may be hard for some physicians to adjust to if they want to access their EHR and take notes. Also, the price for a retina display (on newer iPads) is much higher. A 32 GB model currently runs $599-$729, depending on whether you have Wi-Fi plus cellular or just Wi-Fi connectivity.
Powered by Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, the touchscreen-operated Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is being pegged as a direct competitor to the iPad Mini. It’s 10.3 inches x 7.1 inches and 1.31 pounds. The 32 GB gray model is equipped with a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, rear-facing 5.0 megapixel cameras, and 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera.Pros: Many users praise its built-in speakers and bright display. It comes with an “S Pen,” which allows physicians to take handwritten notes quickly and easily, saving time and ensuring more accurate input of information. The iPad Mini doesn’t. Cons: If look and feel are big, this device may come up short: Some users have criticized the tablet’s design (rounded edges that make it look like a smartphone), when comparing the device to the Mini’s sleek aluminum exterior.
The robust 10-inch, square Motion C5t tablet offers plenty of choices for users. For starters, physicians can choose between an Intel i3, i5, or i7 third-gen Intel processor (the third generation of Intel processors known as “Ivy Bridge”), and select drives from 64 GB to 128 GB, plus 2 GB to 4 GB of RAM. The device runs on Windows 7 Pro. Pros: In addition to the aforementioned perks, the device is also fully sealed in compliance with infection-control protocols, can be easily disinfected, and comes with a slew of security features (including an RFID reader and an optional smart card reader). The tablet is dual-touch enabled (touch and pen input), with a 1024 x 768 display. Cons: The device isn’t sexy. In fact, it reminds one of the Texas Instruments “Speak and Spell” computers from the 1980s. It’s also expensive, starting at $2,200, and weighs three pounds (not exactly lab coat material). Battery life is up to six hours, which is shorter than most consumer-grade tablets. Even though there’s a “hot swap” battery feature, which makes batteries easier to change, you’re still changing a battery.
An 11.6-inch, convertible tablet that runs on Windows 8, HP ENVY x2 is a notebook that doubles as a tablet, which may be appealing to some physicians. Features include NFC, pen input, a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom Z2760 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a 64 GB solid-state drive. Pros: Because the ENVY can go from tablet to notebook, it’s a nice all-purpose device. Other bells and whistles include seven hours of battery life in tablet mode (add the keyboard and you get five hours and 15 minutes more); an 8.0 megapixel rear-facing camera plus a built-in 1080-pixel HD webcam; and built-in dual audio speakers. Cons: At $699.99, the convertible tablet is slightly more expensive than similar models. Also, reviewers have noted the keyboard feels “mushy,” and speeds that aren’t quite as fast as Intel Ivy Bridge processors.
The touch-enabled convertible Lenovo ThinkPad Helix sports a “rip and flip” design that transforms the device from a Lenovo Ultrabook laptop into a Windows 8 tablet. Key features include third-generation Intel Core processors (up to i7); a bright display panel with FHD (1920 x 1080 resolution); and a 10-point, multi-touch, IPS display screen. Pros: Fans of a convertible tablet will appreciate the ease of switch from a touchscreen interface to a laptop-like interface with keyboard. Cons: A battery life of 10-plus hours isn’t quite as high as that promised by other tablets, and convertible tablets are a bit heavier than touchscreen-only varieties. Still, ThinkPad Helix’s 3.68 pounds makes it lighter than most small notebook computers.