By Kye Husbands

We have our big screen televisions, we’ve got our laptops, we have our smartphones and now we’ve got tablet PCs.  The reason for this blog is based on my personal experience and the big question is, how practical are tablets really? 

As much as I inquire with people that own tablets, as to what they do with them, I invariably get a few answers. One of which is to present things such as books or photos to people.  When I ask them have you ever done a presentation on your tablet? The answer is – No.  

 

Given my own personal experience, I started asking myself, are tablet PCs really just a want versus a need?  Is it just Apple creating this desire to own a tablet altogether?

 

I have had the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy to use – on loan that is – for some time and I can never seem to find a convenient time to use them, or put differently, the right time to use them.  I work from home often so I use my laptop.  

If I watch TV and I want to do some light web browsing I use my laptop.  When I head off to bed and anything pops in my head, or I want to make a note or voice recording or send/check email, I use my smart phone. 

So for the last couple weeks, whenever I went anywhere I forced myself to bring either tablet, along with my trusted black notebook and after three months a number of things have become very clear to me.

Counterpoint – Media tablets: More than ‘executive jewelry’

 Pros of owning a Tablet, shared by many I have talked to, along with my two cents

  • It’s an interactive e-reader for books and magazines and digitizing your collection of books means less bulk in your back pack/book shelf or whatever. (Okay I get this one)
  • The device itself is so much more convenient to travel with than a laptop. (Not quite in agreement, but it has a bigger screen than a smart phone so browsing is a better experience – fair enough).
  • It’s great for note taking. (No mouse and a tiny keyboard not the best experience)
  • It’s just cool. Truthfully, I have heard this numerous times. (No comment)

 The downside of buying a tablet computer at this time. (My perspective)

  • Tablets don’t quite fit my lifestyle and spending $500 plus for this device to sit around collecting dust doesn’t make sense to me
  • Typing for any length of time (i.e. note taking) on a tablet is absolutely painful, unless your goal is to see how fast you can get carpel tunnel.   Furthermore, I can scribble notes in my trusted black notebook 50 times faster than attempting to type on a tablet
  • Lack of Office Suite of Applications – Maybe it’s not really about productivity and I just can’t relax, but this bothers me
  • While I appreciate the interactive component of reading on a tablet it will take some time to overcome that nostalgia of reading physical books

So, let’s agree on something. The future of computing is mobile, so no disagreement there.  However, Motorola’s direction with the Motorola Atrix, which comes with a 2Ghz processor and a laptop dock, is a far better investment in my opinion.

Related story – Apple iPad not suited for work

Next to your keys your cell phone is the one device you will turn around for if you forgot it at home. So if you always have your phone on you and want to be a little more productive, the idea of the laptop dock works.   I can already envision a tablet dock that turns the smart phone into a tablet.  How about, laptops that can serve as a tablet PC – like the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid with LePad Slate by Lenovo, which literally splits in two.  This appears to be quite promising from a practical standpoint.  Given the price of tablet PCs you really ought to do the research and know what it is that you are trying to accomplish before dropping $500 plus.

Whatever you decide just realize that the tablet market is changing super fast. Signing a contract to benefit from subsidized pricing on a tablet means you have to sign up for the data plan to go along with it and I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. Of course, you could just buy the Wi-Fi version of the tablet of your choice – if available -, but then you lose a lot of the power of what tablet computing is suppose to be all about.  By the way, the Motorola Atrix will be offered by Bell exclusively in the upcoming weeks and you can get one at myCELLmyTERMS from the convenience of your laptop.  The laptop dock will be priced separately as an add-on.

As I noted, this blog is really all about my personal experience to date, so let me know your thoughts.  You can also start your research by checking out our side by side comparison of the Apple iPad2, BlackBerry Playbook, Samsung Galaxy and Motorola Xoom.

Kye Husbands is co-founder of  myCELLmyTERMS, a Toronto-based company that helps cell phone users negotiate wireless plans with independent dealers.

Share on LinkedIn Share with Google+
  • Stuntman

    I am also at a loss at how a tablet will suit me. When tablets (iPad) hit the main stream, I was excited. I wanted to see what other offerings will be available now that every manufacturer and their dog is releasing one. Now, after taking some time to contemplate how it can be useful enough for me to shell out hundreds of dollars, I have come to the conclusion that it is not for me.

    I have a laptop and a smartphone. Almost anything I need to do, one of these devices will suit my needs. After getting over the cool factor (it looks like the ST:NG device), the only big selling point for me is the battery life (7-10 hours for the iPad). If that is the only big feature I really need, I would be better off buying some portable battery pack for my smartphone.

    I’m sure there are people who find it more useful than I. So far, tablets are just not for me.

  • I agree with your points, but only in the context of the demographic that you are a part of (as am I). You inspired me to blog my own thoughts which considers a wider group of users:

    http://abcd-tech.blogspot.com/2011/03/why-would-i-really-need-tablet-computer.html

  • Gadjo Sevilla

    I think it depends what applications you use on the tablets. I use a Samsung Galaxy Tab mostly because it has all the major eBook reader platforms so I can view my Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle and Kobo books. The Galaxy also doubles as a Wi-Fi hotspot which comes in handy when I’m out and about and need to file stories from my notebook or quickly upload photos as well as check feeds.

  • Erin Day

    I think you have to look at what you want to use it for. I think a lot of people get a tablet WANTING it to be a powerful laptop replacement. The simple truth is it isnt.
    What is it good for? A lightweight device for email checking, surfing, music, movies and pictures. A “social networking tool”. I good device to travel with. I dont think it’s at all ready as a corpoarte tool especially for the mainstream business user. To many users expect/want it to be but alas it’s not. Still, I’m definitely glad I have an ipad, a smartphone and a laptop.

  • Brent

    All they are is penis extensions for mentally challenged totally useless waste of resources and money

  • Sam

    I disagree with you. Tablets are very useful. portability, compared to a laptop is much more improved. It’s slimmer and lighter. It’s like carrying around a portfolio. My Samsung galaxy tab 10.1 comes with polaris office, which let’s me create, view and edit, all microsoft office documents up to 2007. I have done many presentations using my tab, and it’s hdmi adapter. I can view powerpoints and other presentations on a large screen. There’s also a more intimate experience that you get with tablets, that a laptop just doesn’t do for me. It feels more personal…

  • Sam

    but, my opinion on ipads is completely different. iPads are completely limited. The extent of customization on an ipad is changing your background image. The interface is boring, and made up of pages with all of your apps. It’s like taking android 3.1, removing everything other than the app drawer, and calling it an operating system. I like to consider a tablet as a form of pc, but iPads just seem like a larger version of the iPod touch to me..