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Microsoft and ViewSonic tout massive tablets, but are they really tablets?

by Doug Drinkwater

May 28 2012

ViewSonic plans to show off a 22-inch 'tablet' in Taiwan in June
ViewSonic plans to show off a 22-inch 'tablet' in Taiwan in June

Much conversation has abound of 7-inch tablets of late, so perhaps it is to some surprise that news today is of Microsoft and ViewSonic apparently launching 80-inch and 22-inch tablets, respectively.

Steve Ballmer's office is fitted with an 80-inch Windows 8 tablet, according to Microsoft's VP Frank Shaw, who told Wired late last week that this is a product Microsoft plans to sell into office boardrooms in future.

“He’s got rid of his phone, he’s got rid of his note paper. It’s touch-enabled and it’s hung on his wall. It’s his whiteboard, his email machine, and it’s a device we’re going to sell”, said Shaw, when speaking to Wired.

Not to be left behind in the over-sized tablet space, ViewSonic, the Taiwanese vendor behind the ViewPad tablets, has taken to offering a 22-inch tablet.

The Ice Cream Sandwich tablet is being promoted as a ‘Smart business tablet monitor’ and is expected to tip up at the Computex exhibition in June. Specification and price details are not yet known at this time.

The question from all of this is, however, is if Microsoft and ViewSonic have the right to call these devices ‘tablets’ anyway. Screen size is arguably the main differentiator between a tablet and a digital signage display, and both of these devices could be categorized as either a digital signage display, or in the case of ViewSonic, an all-in-one (AIO) touchscreen PC.

In fact, this 80-inch Windows 8 tablet would appear to be little more than an enlarged version of the Microsoft Surface digital signage display, even if this particular model cannot yet be hung on a wall.

One suspects then that branding these products as ‘tablets’ is a marketing gimmick to draw in publicity and sales.

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