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Tag: Slates

Tablets: Serious Computing Devices or Toys?

Posted by Alan at 5:35 PM on September 21, 2011

exopc slate

I ran across an article on Electronista in my news feed today that really got me thinking.  It seems a new survey conducted by Citigroup found that, of 1,800 people surveyed, 62% of those planning to purchase a tablet considered the purchase “a toy” (you can read a more in-depth analysis of the survey at that link).  After a few minutes of thought I realized that I feel, somewhat, the same way.  The majority of this survey likely encompasses average users.  Sure, I plug a keyboard into a tablet and work, but my family finds it pure entertainment.

With the addition of Google Docs and, now, Office Live 365, a tablet can be a work environment that’s easy to carry when you’re on the go.  Of course, you’ll need a real keyboard because nobody wants to type a long article or Word doc on the on-screen equivalent.  Throw in email as another productivity chore that can be tackled when using it as a computer, but again, if the response is in-depth, you may want that keyboard.  Meetings can be handled via Skype or Google+ Hangouts, so there is yet another productivity app that you have with you in an easy-to-carry device.  But, most I have named require a real keyboard, which adds to the bulk.  You may even want a mobile mouse if you’re really serious.  Oh, and you will need a stand to use it this way also.

My wife and kids and the majority of the computing public?  They want a tablet to play games, check social media, browse the web, read a book with the Kindle app, use a remote control app for the home theater, check sports scores, and on and on.  In short, it’s a toy for them.  They will never plug in a keyboard or mouse to it, they will never write a document on it, they just don’t see it that way.  To them, that’s what desktops and laptops are for.

For all of the talk about the PC being dead, I think the diagnosis may be a bit premature, or as Mark Twain put it “rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”  Even for business travelers the notebook is still the number one tool.  After all, who wants to carry, and hook-up, all of those accessories?

So, am I missing something here?  Do you feel differently?  Are tablets really ready for prime-time when it comes to real computing tasks and day-to-day work?  Let me know in the comments below.