If you are searching the market for a Tablet PC, where do you look? Well users who know exactly what they are looking for usually go Online and do their research and search for the best deal. What if you are a first time buyer and trying to get some hands-on experience though? I thought it would be a good idea to test out everyone’s favorite big box stores to see what they offer, so I went to my local Best Buy and Circuit City.
I did some Online research before I went to both stores and not to my surprise the websites were more informative. I am not saying that every big box store is this way just most of the ones I have been to. First off, Circuit City didn’t even have a Tablet PC on display. Thankfully, they did know what a tablet was though. So if you are looking to have a little hands-on, Circuit City might not be your best choice, but I am sure some stores may have a tablet on display. However, the only tablet they carry is the HP tx1000 series model tx1205, which is the non-touchscreen version. Don’t get me wrong it’s a nice notebook, but this isn’t a Tablet PC. I mean it is lacking all the tablet functions like a touchscreen or pen, so no writing on the screen. It is basically a notebook with a turning screen.
As for Best Buy, I did have a little more luck. The store set-up was much nicer and they had two Tablet PCs. So, for hands-on experience, I would give Best Buy a plus, but still not a big selection. They had the same non-touchscreen version HP tx1000 Tablet and it seems that is the only one they carry, so again not a fully-functional tablet. Best Buy did have the Gateway E-155C, C-120x or as they call it the C-5815, all the same tablet. This actually is a nice tablet and since it’s on display you can test it out. You can get a feel for the weight, what it is like to write on the screen, convert it into tablet mode and so on.
At the moment this is the only Gateway tablet that Best Buy carries, but the sales rep told me it may vary by location and if you go Online the selection is different as well. The only problem with the Online only selection is you still aren’t getting the chance to test it out first hand. In this case you would be better off buying Online directly from the manufacturer. Companies like Lenovo, HP and Gateway offer many good deals on their websites, especially for the back-to-school season.
I am not saying buying a Tablet PC or notebook from Best Buy or Circuit City is a bad thing, just make sure you do your research and have an idea of what you want. Many Online places have a better selection for the more niche Tablet PC market, but it is still good to get that hands-on experience and both stores have their 24/7 support teams. Best Buy has their famous Geek Squad and Circuit City has firedog. Both support teams were helpful and can even do upgrades to your tablet or notebook. It might just cost you an arm and a leg or a week of your time.
It still amazes me that our Tablet PC friends aren’t more mainstream, but at least they are becoming more popular. Many college students and business professionals swear by their Tablet PCs and that includes me. They are great for note-taking and giving presentations. Parents should think about buying a tablet for their children who are headed off to college because for the extra money the features are worth it. I think our big box stores need to jump on the bandwagon and realize how popular Tablet PCs are becoming, therefore giving consumers a better selection and the chance to test one out in person.