You see them in the security queues at airports, that serve India's IT geek clusters -- Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon-Noida -- young men and women, shoulders sagging under the weight of laptops they have to lug, relics of an era when portable PCs had to be bulky to be powerful.
And then you have the non-IT crowd of the Bold and the Beautiful, flashing their slim and colourful tablets as they shut out the world to watch their movies and music videos, while waiting to board their flights.
Can the two computer-carrying worlds meet? Is there such a thing as a Business Tablet or it that a contradiction in terms?
Microsoft and Intel have jointly persuaded half a dozen tablet makers to make this a reality -- tablets which are equally cool at work and play. Latest to join the Wintel gang (Windows OS plus Intel chip) is the iBall Slide WQ32, an 8-inch tablet fuelled by Windows 8.1 rather than Android. Its key specs are fairly standard for any tablet in this price range (Rs 16,999, but search online to save a thousand bucks or so): 5 MP auto focus rear camera and 2 MB "selfie" camera; quad core 1.33 GHz atom processor; 2GB RAM, 16 GB memory, expandable with another 64 GB through a micro SD card; 1280 by 800 pixel IPS display; 3G SIM slot but strangely, only for data not for voice calling. The capacitive display is sensitive to a light touch and the Wi-Fi pickup is quite fast.
If you are a professional user, this tablet will provide a sharp improvement in productivity, in a small but significant number of ways. Like a besotted Elizabeth Barrett Browning, we are tempted to say: How do I love thee, let me count the ways:
I love thee for thy PC feel: If you don't like the Windows 8 tiled menu, you can go to the old desktop style. The very fact of having a desktop lets you drag-n-drop files from a USB stick to the tablet -- something that is a major pain point in Android: you have to mail the files to yourself.
I love thee for thy mouse appeal: The tablet also provides for users who are more comfortable with a mouse -- then moment you connect one, a mouse icon pops up. Likewise, you can connect a keyboard, a portable scanner or even one of those nano projectors through the mini USB port. And an HDMI port lets you play or project 720p HD video.
I love thee for thy Office suite: the iBall Slide comes preinstalled with a one year subscription to Office 365, as well as the Windows Anti Virus and 1 TB of cloud storage. We are not great fans of so-called free pre-loads which you have to pay for after a while -- but like Scarlett O'Hara in 'Gone with the Wind', we can "think of that tomorrow" and say "Tomorrow is another day"!
Contrary-wise, I love thee not, for leaving out an NFC sensor, which any business user would demand. Come on guys, even Intel's Education tablet for kids has one!
Meanwhile, the iBall Slate WQ32 with its combo of features atop and Windows under its belt, offers a real option for those who want a comforting PC experience combined with the convenience of a tablet. Laptop luggers, join the queue....