Apple, Nokia, and Microsoft All Launch New Tablets: What It Means For Healthcare

10-27-2013 7-38-35 PM

Last week was a big week in tablet news. Three major product launches all took place nearly simultaneously. Apple won the lions share of publicity with its completely redesigned iPad, called the iPad Air. Microsoft launched its next iteration of its Surface Pro tablet, and Nokia unveiled its first-ever tablet, the Lumia 2520 which will also run a Windows OS.  Here’s HIStalkConnect’s review of the group:

iPad Air


Apple’s 5th generation of the iPad brings new hardware, new software, and results in what Apple is calling desktop-class architecture. Coming in at just one pound, the iPad Air is thinner, lighter, and faster than any previous iPad version.  The new iPad has doubled its CPU and graphics performance speeds, and boasts a 10 hour battery life.

Apple doubled the number of wi-fi antennas in the new iPad as well, allowing it to simultaneously send and receive from both antennas which has effectively doubled its wi-fi speeds. As expected, Apple included the A7 64-bit processor that was originally introduced in the iPhone 5S. This new chip doubles the processing speed of the iPad.

In what seems like a backwards decision, Apple chose to include the M7 processor in its iPad design but left out the TouchID fingerprint scanner as an authentication device. Both were included in the iPhone 5S, and the M7 seems much more at home on a smartphone than an iPad because its core function is to provide a dedicated processor for fitness apps that regularly interact with the GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer, or compass. The fingerprint reader, however, would be well suited to the iPad which is more frequently used in enterprise environments where strong authentication would go a long way.

Overall, the iPad Air is a solid addition to the iPad lineup, but from a healthcare perspective it doesn’t bring anything new to the table that its iPhone 5S little brother can’t match or beat.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Just nine months after the launch of the original Microsoft Surface Pro, Microsoft has launched a new version of its flagship tablet designed to correct some design problems users of the original tablet complained about, as well as add some new enhancements. Microsoft’s tablet rests as a central point in its strategy to offer a desktop, tablet, and smartphone that all run identical operating systems. The body of the Pro 2 is half-an-inch thick and two-pounds, identical dimensions as the original Surface Pro.

Microsoft has increased the color accuracy of its screen by 46 percent to compete with Apple and Samsung. An unanticipated consequence of the change is that developers have not updated the apps in Microsoft’s app store, and many now look blurry and pixelated on the new display.

Where Microsoft is winning the hearts and minds of clinicians in the tablet war is with its ability to run desktop apps on the tablet, meaning that clinicians can access EHR systems without needing to run through Citrix or some other virtual desktop solution. Microsoft is also getting praise for supporting pen, touch, keyboard, mouse, and voice recognition as input methods. Documenting clinical notes is more complex than voice recognition, but with Surface Pro 2 drawings, handwritten notes, and typed or dictated narrative are all available documentation methods. The Surface Pro 2 comes with a keyboard, and even a built in kickstand that automatically adjusts itself depending on if its being propped up on a desk, or on your lap.

Nokia Lumia 2520

Nokia enters the tablet market with its Lumia 2520. Rumors about the new tablet have been circling for more than a year as design and hardware specs occasionally leaked. The final product is a solid first attempt in the tablet market, but it won’t truly compete with Apple, Samsung, or even Microsoft for enterprise healthcare customers.

The new device runs Windows RT, an operating system designed for mobile that does not allow end users to directly run desktop applications, not a major disadvantage in the tablet world considering that Apple and Samsung are also unable to run desktop applications, but considering that there are other, comparably priced, Windows-based tablets on the market that will allow end users to run desktop solutions, it may be a deal breaker for many enterprise or healthcare customers seriously considering a windows tablet.

The Lumia has a 10.1 inch display built into a frame very similar to that of the Surface Pro 2. It weighs 1.36 pounds and comes with a cover that doubles as both a keyboard and a battery booster, adding an additional five hours to the battery life.


For enterprise customers, there’s a lot to like about Microsoft’s second attempt at the Surface Pro 2. Voice recognition, handwriting recognition, and keyboards are all popular among clinical end users and the Samsung Pro 2 may be the only tablet of the bunch capable of satisfying a demanding and varied group of end users from this perspective.

The Surface Pro 2 is also the only tablet of the group capable of running enterprise applications, which means network authentication is not a concern for hospital administrators and EHR software can be loaded directly on the device, so Citrix is not an additional fail point to worry about for clinicians who are just trying to deliver patient care.

Still, if healthcare IT has taught us anything, its that speed and usability are more important than just about anything else, and when it comes to ease of use no one does it better than Apple. The new Apple iPad Air is an aggressive play by Apple to start competing directly with the laptop market. It doesn’t come with a keyboard, it cannot run desktop applications, and it didn’t inherit the fingerprint authentication option offered on the iPhone 5S, but it’s intuitive and it packs so much power under the hood that it may be the only real choice if you’re looking to ditch convention and go all-in on tablets.

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