Why tablets will usurp laptops in 2012

The laptop's long pedigree won't prevent it being replaced as the default tool for mobile workers in 2012, says Jack Wallen
By Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
1 of 10 James Martin/CNET News

Apple iPad 2

I was one of those doubters who thought of tablets as nothing more than a gimmick. But having now used these devices more extensively, I've changed my tune. I can see that tablet technology is incredibly useful. My change of heart has given me a growing belief that tablets will replace the laptop as the mobile device of choice. Here are the principal reasons for my new position.

1. Power consumption
The tablet scores heavily over the laptop when it comes to power consumption. On average, I can get a full day out of a tablet on a single charge. I couldn't even get close to that with a laptop. For anyone who has to operate on the move, running out of power is just another factor that interferes with work. You're less likely to find yourself in that situation with a tablet.

2 of 10 TahoeSunsets/Flickr

Antivirus software

2. Viruses
It's a fairly safe bet that tablets will never suffer from viruses to the same degree as Windows laptops. That's not to say the iPad or Android devices will never be the target of malware, but it shouldn't be a major concern. Of course, you can find antivirus software in the Android Market, but it's pretty pointless. A portable device that isn't vulnerable to the masses of viruses and malware that exist out in the wild is an undeniably attractive proposition.

3 of 10 Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Tablet in a taxi

3. Portability
Which would you choose when going through airports, taking taxis, staying in hotels, and attending conferences and meetings — a laptop weighing between 2kg and 5.5kg or a tablet of about 600g? You'd choose the tablet every time. And it's not just because of weight. The tablet is far superior to the laptop in its ability to work in confined spaces. Need to work in a cab? Tablet. Need to work in the bathroom? Tablet. You simply can't beat the tablet for portability.

4 of 10 CoCreatr/Flickr

Low price sign

4. Cost effectiveness
A really good tablet will cost about the same as a low- to mid-range laptop. So you're immediately getting more for your money. But now factor in the price of an extra battery and software for the laptop and you can see how quickly the cost can add up. Tablets are quickly becoming one of the most cost-effective office tools available.

5 of 10 johaneko/Flickr


5. Online connection
If you pay extra and get your tablet with a 3G connection, you won't have to worry about finding a Wi-Fi connection to access whatever cloud or service you need. Many tablets can be bought with a 3G connection, which puts them a step ahead of most laptops. Of course, you can buy aircards for laptops, but that's just another piece of hardware to worry about.

6 of 10 GlenBledsoe/Flickr

App store

6. Application availability
There are thousands of applications available for tablets. These applications are so varied and numerous that it makes going back to a laptop potentially painful. I admit that many of those apps are worthless, but not all of them. And a good portion of the solid, useful ones are free. Best of all, they can be installed from anywhere without installation media. If you have a network connection, you can install software.

7 of 10 Erica Ogg/CNET News

Tablet UI

7. User-friendliness
Tablet interfaces are among the user-friendliest desktops available. They are simple, elegant, and don't get in the way of work. I believe — as do Ubuntu and GNOME — that this is the future of the PC desktop. For the most part, tablet applications are also designed with user-friendliness in mind. They are simple to use and there's very little clutter to the interface with no Ribbons to get in the way. So you might have more apps installed than you would on a laptop, but because of the ease of installation and removal, that's not a problem.

Pictured: the Toshiba Thrive Android tablet.

8 of 10 michperu/Flickr

Bluetooth device

8. Bluetooth connectivity
I have become a keen user of Bluetooth — from headphones and headsets to keyboards. And tablets, unlike laptops, make connecting to these devices easy. Even with a built-in card, the connection process is far harder with a laptop than with a tablet.

9 of 10 David Meyer

Tablet top view

9. Efficiency
Getting a laptop out of hibernation is a very different experience to waking up a tablet. Tablets are the closest thing we have to an instant-on computer. And when you're a mobile worker, nothing beats instant-on. If you need to write a note or send a short email, you'll complete the task much more quickly with a tablet.

10 of 10 Franco Bouly/Flickr


10. Social integration
Some might argue that social networking isn't relevant to business use. But even those working on the move may need to maintain contact with co-workers, family, and friends. Rather than having to use a browser for everything, grab an Android tablet that can quickly have you Facebooking, Tweeting, and Tumbling. And if you think that's a waste of time, remember that small businesses depend on social-networking tools for free marketing.

The tablet era
Tablets are not only here to stay, but it's only be a matter of time before they usurp the laptop as the preferred choice for the mobile business user. Or do you think other obstacles lie in the tablet's path?

This story originally appeared as 10 reasons why tablets will overtake laptops in the next year on TechRepublic.

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