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.

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