Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

Summary: I may be the biggest tablet lover on the planet, but to be totally honest they aren't really necessary for anyone.


Tablets, tablets, tablets. They are everywhere. Big ones, little ones, thick ones, thin ones. First the iPad came along, followed by lots of Android tablets, and now the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are fighting to get in our hands. I have several tablets, and while I love the slate the honest truth is they aren't a necessity.

Don't misunderstand me, I love using tablets for all sorts of purposes. They are great for entertainment, even for getting work done in my case. But I have to be honest and admit that there's not a single thing I can think of that I can only do on a tablet. It is constantly pointed out to me that with laptops getting thinner and cheaper, why use a tablet without a full OS? That is being echoed by Microsoft with the Windows 8 tablets coming next year. The fact of the matter is if tablets disappeared off the face of the earth, life would go on, and pretty much as it is now.

Tablets have evolved to augment the little smartphone screen, and that's a good thing. It is easier to use a tablet for many things instead of a smartphone, due to the bigger display. But is a tablet required to do those things? No; everything we do on tablets can be done on smartphones or computers, especially laptops, just not as conveniently. Basically tablets are a tool of convenience, not necessity.

The tablet is like a programmable coffeemaker. It is nice to be able to set the coffeemaker so you wake up to fresh-brewed coffee, but no matter how important caffeine is to get your day going it is not a necessity. If programmable coffeemakers didn't exist you would just wake up and make coffee manually. It's not as easy nor convenient, but it's not life-changing.

That's basically what tablets bring to the table-- ease and convenience. Sure they can be quite enjoyable, like that fresh cup of coffee waiting for us in the programmable coffeemaker. But that is not a requirement. That is why many mainstream consumers aren't lining up to buy tablets. They are nice, but do they really need one? The truthful answer is no, not really.

Don't get me wrong, I love my tablets and you couldn't get me to give them up. They make me happy using them, and they are convenient. But if they all disappeared would my life be radically changed for the worse? It is hard to admit, but nope.

Image credit: Flickr user ylo

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Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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  • At last, somebody is talking sense

    It's been like the parable of the Emperor's New Clothes around here.
    Tim Acheson
    • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

      @Tim Acheson

      What I find amusing is a recent pattern in the press which seems to acknowledge that there isn't an overall tablet market, rather there is an iPad market. Though Amazon and Barnes and Noble seem to have some battle for traction on a low end type of a device.

      Basically, it goes like this. Android has crashed and burned with the horde of challengers this year. Same with HP and WebOS. Microsoft doesn't even have anything to field at this point and likely won't until late in 2012. Even then, it's not as if their Windows Phone has managed to gather any significant traction. Most of the PC OEMs seem to be losing interest in the overall tablet market though as evidenced by a recent digitimes article. That leaves Apple. Well, if Apple is going to lead the market, we might as well just try to downplay the market entirely, right?

      In terms of the article, I have a PC, I have a laptop, I have a smartphone and I have a tablet. Do I NEED a tablet? No. Do I need a smartphone? No, a dumb phone would meet my most basic requirements. Do I need a laptop? No. Do I need a PC? Yes, I think it's fair to say that we need a PC in some form or another in this day and age. So, why do we have all of these devices then? Convenience. And we're willing to pay for this convenience.

      I agree with the notion that a tablet has less overall functionality than a laptop for example. Yet, I spend more time on my tablet (iPad 2). Why? Because the overall experience is much better on that device for the function I'm using it for. It's that simple. This is a trend that is more likely to continue and grow as other users experience tablets as well. As computers evolve, they are going to become more like appliances that require less maintenance and configuration. iOS is the obvious early example, but even Microsoft is headed in this direction. Burying your head in the sand and hoping the entire market goes away isn't going to very effective for you.
      • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

        @techconc But yet, the entire market could indeed go away. That's the nature of the rapidly-evolving tech (software, hardware, online) landscape.
      • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

        @techconc Android is the number one mobile operating system. Crash and burn? That's stupid to say by any metric. And remember, Android on tablets has only had one version out so far with Honeycomb. ICS won't be out until late this year. iOS is more mature, but Android is more comprehensive in function.

        This whole issue of ease of use is a Red Herring. It's about what you can do with a given technology. The Android OS is very easy to use. Maybe not as easy at iOS, but that's because it does more. Especially with Honeycomb. It takes about 15 minutes to figure out how things work on Honeycomb and maybe half that time on iOS. Big deal.

        Today's generations and all subsequent ones will think nothing of interacting with technology of any kind. For now, it's still more of an issue with people who haven't grown up with it. Those people will be less and less as time goes on.
    • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

      Nobody needs these Ios or Android based tablets. But when the INNOVATION that is Micr0$uck$ LoseDoze8 Operating System (O/S) becomes available EVERYONE will need this! Who wouldn't want the ability to install the internet, browse the web, point and click, cut and paste, and multitasking capabilities? Can't get any of THAT from those other lame tablets.

      Give me my LoseDoze!
    • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

      @Tim Acheson
      Let's go one further; who really needs a PC anyway?
      • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

        @ypsrudy If I didn't need to use one to make a living I'd would spend more time outside smelling the flowers. And maybe talking to human beings face to face instead of being on my cellphone.
      • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

        @rahbm For the next decade or two we'll still need what we consider a PC. But it's clear that a desktop is not needed anymore. Laptops and netbooks are all you need now. If need be, you can outfit them with bigger monitors and keyboards at a fix computer station for more comprehensive long hours type of work where mobility isn't an issue.
    • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

      @Tim Acheson
      What? Haven't you brought your all singing, all dancing Asus eee Slate gun to this pillow fight?
      For shame... the hypocrisy.
  • I think you've got the wrong site, James

    This blog post involves too much common sense and perspective to be posted on ZDNet.

    • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

    • And I got a roasting

      @voyager529 when I said pretty much the same thing over on another ZDNet blog!

      None of the people I know have the slightest interest in buying a tablet, they have plenty of other things, like food, housing, furniture etc. which are far more important to them, than a tablet.
      • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

        @wright_is Having to decide between a tablet and providing food/housing for your family doesn't really have anything to do with what he was saying. I agree that we don't need them but the same can be said about pretty much all the tech we have now, at least personal tech. Humans survived without them before so obviously we don't need them. Financial limitations does not change or validate this.
    • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

      @voyager529 +1
    • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

      @voyager529 +1
  • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

    @Michael Kelly I don't even think it's efficient to take note with a touchkeyboard. You need a stylus. like on a tablet pc or the HTC Flyer.
    • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?


      I disagree with that, especially once you get used to Swype. But if it works better for you, you can get a stylus that works for any capacitive screen for ~$10. They aren't hard to find.
      Michael Kelly
    • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

      @JB5645 I bought a couple of Lenovo Thinkpad Tablets for just that reason. The wife uses hers on a bus to and from work (90 mins each way) and with the stylus and handwriting recognition software finds it far more functional than trying to balance a laptop!
    • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

      @JB5645 True. Don't forget the Samsung Galaxy Note. That's my next device because it will do all my tablet type functions and be able to use it as a phone as well. Best convergent mobile device to date.
  • RE: Who really needs a stinking tablet, anyway?

    @Michael Kelly You want to take notes? Try a Livescribe Echo.