With the decline of first quarter PC sales in 2011, tablet PCs are becoming the new primary computing device. A recent survey conducted suggested that around 25% of computer users now use their tablet as their main device for checking email and surfing the Internet. So is it likely that the tablet PC will replace the good old desktop computer? Well, let’s have a look.
Neither a Laptop Nor a Smartphone
By far, the most popular tablet is the iPad. The price and software options make it the front runner of all tablets. That’s not to say that other tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the Blackberry PlayBook aren’t worthwhile. I’m sure they have certain advantages, but Apple has really seemed to have knocked their device in this category off the playing field. In the past, laptops seemed like the right solution to a portable PC. Desktops were just that, they were meant to stay on top of your desktop, whereas laptops provided the student, the travelling business man, and the IT pro desktop mobility. Laptops now out-perform lower end desktops, and with that power comes a lot of heat being generated by the hardware. Some thought that the hot bottom surface of the laptop disqualified it from being called a “laptop” as it could not be comfortably placed on one’s lap. Hence, the secondary classification called notebooks. But laptops weren’t really notebooks either. They were heavy and had a screen that popped up and blocked your view of the meeting or the class lecture. Another solution proposed: netbooks. Small, light, and exactly what we need? Not really. They too were hard to use as the keyboard was typically small and during typing the hand would hit the mouse pad and mess up everything.
Here in comes the perfect in-between: the tablet. It’s actually way lighter and has the basic functionality of a laptop and a smartphone combined. The touch interface actually solves a lot. No need for a popup screen that blocks the view. An iPad can use its smartcover to prop it up so that one can write using the touchscreen (something one needs to get used to) and it doesn’t block the view.
Functionality and Use
The tablet seems to be the true notebook as its physical form resembles that of a real notebook. Like a paper pad or portfolio, it is easy to carry around from office to office or from class to class. The essential use of a tablet for a home user would probably come under using it as a casual email checking device or quick web browsing. Its ecosystem would probably entail a kitchen, living room, family room, and bedroom. Tablets are good for e-reading as well, so a quick check of the newspaper in the kitchen or a silent read in backyard would be one of its uses. That may not seem like much, but keep in mind that a tablet is an instant-on device. There’s no boot up time like a laptop or a desktop PC. So the quick access allows users in the home to not be hindered by a delay in turning it on. Tablets can also be used for viewing photo albums. Although media players and HTPCs allow the viewing of pictures on a TV, the feel and experience of a looking at high resolution pictures on a tablet is quite reassuring, kind of like flipping through a real photo album.
There are a host of business apps that allows creation from AutoCad to tracking statistics of sales and profit on the device. I believe development will yield better functionality and use in the coming years as tablets progress from their infancy to a wider range of implementations. I am setting forth a note taking process for my IT consulting business. My handwritten notes will be taken on my iPad and I will sync them with Google Apps. Here, I’m involving a digital process of record keeping and utilizing the Cloud at the same time. EMR systems are allowing doctors to take their notes on a tablet device and sync it with their server database as well as online Cloud storage. The flexibility of tablets is huge.
Future of Tablets
The prospects of tablet PCs seems to be bright. From the medical field to academics to professional business use, tablets will set a new paradigm in human interaction with technology. Tablets did make an early appearance in the year 2001, but they didn’t cook up a stir due to Microsoft’s lack of user interface cohesion. This rebirth, incited by Apple, seems to be more promising.