Are We Still Excited About Tablets?

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The first iPad hit the scene in mid 2010. With its arrival, the tablet shit storm had officially begun!

Four years later, is there anything left to be excited about? Smartphone popularity and excitement is like an never ending kegger. It’s always going to be fun and grab headlines. Tablets, on the other hand, not so much. With Apple being the lone exception, tablets never really seem to generate much buzz. They are just, kinda there. Maybe it’s just me? I have owned four tablets since they became a tech “necessity”. The OG Asus Transformer (TF101), the Asus Transformer Prime (TF201), Nexus 7 (2013), and the iPad Air. All of which I have struggled to find an actual use for.

Usefulness at Work

As a graphic designer, I develop various things for the Web. Tablets are useful as test machines, but other than that, I haven’t found much use for them. Here is a small list of cons in respect to my daily work life. I cannot create vector illustrations in Illustrator, using a scaled down version of Photoshop sucks balls, no Dreamweaver, using FTP, coding sucks without a full size keyboard and a mouse. Not to mention tons of other programs I use on a daily basis that either do not work or do not exist on a mobile device (with exception to the Surface Pro). For my profession, Android tablets and iPads are not going to be replacing my desktop PC, or laptop, anytime soon.

This is how I see it. If you can replace your laptop or desktop with an Android tablet or an iPad for work purposes, you probably do not use many, if any, processor & memory intensive programs. Such as Photoshop, Illustrator, 3DS Max, Maya, page layout software, etc, in your line of work. Tablets do have usefulness in the workplace, just not for content creation. I fail to see where using a tablet/iPad for any specific task is going to be beneficial over using a more traditional device. The touch screen certainly comes in handy, but it’s not like tablets are the only devices with touch input. Touch screens are quite common in most forms of computing.  Their portability usually exceeds that of a laptop, but the trade-off of portability vs productivity is not a compromise I could make in regards to work.

Entertainment

This is where tablets really excel. Movies, games, and music are all instantly accessible. Tablets are great for casual entertainment. Portability comes in huge here. I can get not wanting to pull out your big ass 17″ laptop so your daughter can watch Frozen on the plane. For this purpose, there is no better entertainment alternative. My Nexus 7 has become my daughters personal entertainment device, since I don’t have a use for it. It’s cheap, portable,  and basically disposable. Its usefulness for her, and as a result, my sanity, is almost priceless. Tablets have simply become entertainment devices for me since I have no other practical uses for them. There is nothing wrong with that, it’s just not something I am going to invest much money in if that is its only purpose.

Tablets in Schools

Since I work at an E-learning company that develops content for colleges, this is a subject of a lot of debate around the office. Does an iPad or Android tablet have a place at an institution? Does it serve a purpose? Does it aid in learning? The answers vary depending on the tablets purpose and intention, but for the most part, no.

I’ll focus more on iPads here since Android tablets do not seem to have the same education integration. Requiring a student to purchase an iPad just because the school wants to be considered “cool” and “trendy”, is fucking stupid. There had better be a damn good reason for requiring an iPad, and it better aid in learning. If your school runs software that is only compatible with an iPad, I feel really fucking sorry for you and your school.

Is an iPad a better note taking device? Are you shitting me? In class note taking with an on-screen keyboard, seriously? Even if you have a blue tooth keyboard, fuck no. Good luck sending your notes or that paper that is due tomorrow to a printer, better hope it’s AirPrint enabled. I hope you checked that before the morning your paper was due. Personally I think a full-fledged Laptop, or Surface Pro, would be much more beneficial and practical to a college student. Please tell me why I am wrong.

I could see tablets being a little more useful for K-12 schools. Especially the kindergarten through 3rd grade stage where hands on and visual learning are more important. But requiring parents to buy an iPad for their small child is a bit ridiculous.

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The Future

Tablets are still around and are not going away. In some form or another, tablets will always have their place. For most of us, we have found a use for our tablets, whether they be important uses or not. Over the past few years, tablets have begun to lose their luster. The Nexus 6 sold out in 10 minutes, while the Nexus 9 still has stock after several days of release, people just do not seem to have the same desire for tablets as they used too.

Before the phablet boom of the past couple of years, tablets still held a distinct advantage over cell phones. The larger screen. Smartphones screen were still hovering around 4-4.7 inches on average, while the average tablet display was usually around 7-10 inches. Now that phone displays are steadily increasing in size, and the market is nice a saturated, the novelty is wearing off. It seems like  the demand for tablets has started to decline. Tablets have always been considered to be a larger extension of what your phone is already capable of doing. Which is the main reason I have no need for a tablet. Nine times out of ten, unless I am running low on battery, I will reach for my 5.5 inch OnePlus One instead of my larger tablet.

Conclusion

So where do we go from here? What is my fucking point? Like every other piece of technology in your home or business, tablets will continue to be as useful as you want them to be. If you feel like purchasing a new Nexus 9 for entertainment purposes is a good investment for you, then by all means. But until tablets become more capable devices, they aren’t going to replace my laptop or desktop anytime soon.