Are Tablet PCs distracting in meetings?

Eric Mack is still waiting to take possession of his Tablet PC but in his usual fashion he’s wasted no time in evangelizing the platform on his blog, Eric Mack On-Line.  He has been in conversation with Michael Hyatt who recently switched from the Tablet PC to a Mac Powerbook and he’s written an article that addresses some of the reasons that Michael has given for the switch.

One of the statements that caught my eye was the claim that Michael makes that whipping out a Tablet PC in a meeting is often distracting and thus defeats the purpose of using a Tablet in that setting.  It has me thinking about my experience and I have to say quite the opposite is true for me.  I have attended countless meetings where at least one attendant pulls out a laptop and goes through the motions of getting set up for note taking and that is always very distracting.  Then you have the constant clacking of the keys throughout the meeting and it is especially distracting, especially for those sitting near the clacker.  Tablet PCs can be whipped out silently, and after a minute of resuming from Standby can be used like any other note pad of paper.  It’s completely silent operation with ink makes everyone forget about it almost instantly and it’s a non-factor during the meeting.  A notebook computer on the other hand when used in a meeting sets up an effective barrier between the user and the rest of the group and is a definite factor in how the meeting progresses.  I am curious to know what you readers think about this and what is your experience in this regard?

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