I Can’t Find a Single Productive Use For My Tablet [Opinion]

tablet   I Cant Find a Single Productive Use For My Tablet [Opinion]First off, I have to say that like most of you reading this, I love technology. I love it. I dream about it so much that I just had to write an article about where technology is going to be in 20 years. I imagine a world where everyone is wearing augmented reality glasses, riding in anti-gravity vehicles that run on renewable energy, and everyone is telecommuting from home via a global high-speed wireless network.

So, it should go without saying that when tablets first came out, I got pretty excited about it. When I saw those first large touch screens sitting next to the smartphones in the cellular store, and realized that they had finally made such larger computing devices capable of accessing the Internet via the cellular data plan – and wi-fi as well – that was really exciting.

That excitement culminated recently when I received my very first tablet – a really nice Asus Transformer Prime. It’s a sleek, fast and powerful device capable of playing games, running awesome productivity apps, and letting you browse the web and do online research from the couch or the bed. It’s convenient, fun, and ultimately completely and utterly pointless.

Weird right? The thing is that no matter how hard I try to do something actually productive and useful with the tablet, I always migrate back to my laptop, and my tablet ends up back in the pocket of my computer bag, uncharged.

The Path To The Tablet Computer

I remember when those little Casio personal organizers first came out – you know the text based ones that looked like flip-top calculators with little miniature keyboards? When I first saw them, I had dreams of storing the addresses and birthdays of every member of my family and all of my friends. I figured I’d have my entire schedule completely, digitally organized. My life would be streamlined, efficient and productive.

Eventually, the dreams got the best of me, I bought a Casio organizer – an SF-4700L to be exact. I diligently loaded my life into that little organizer. I’m talking everything; my to-do list, calendar, personal passwords and contact info. I used it to keep assignments for classes, and to remember meetings and important events. This went on for about four of five months, but gradually I realized that if I was going to be completely honest with myself, it was getting a bit annoying.

organizer   I Cant Find a Single Productive Use For My Tablet [Opinion]

The truth is that it didn’t make life easier. It made it harder. Instead of quickly handwriting someone’s name and address into a paper address book, I had to use this puny little too-small keyboard with my thick fingers to try and type in names, addresses, phone numbers and birthdays. It took forever. It was painful.

When I wanted to enter a to-do item into my list, it took at least two or three times longer than it would have taken if I’d just written those items down into a paper notebook. After a while, out of frustration that this little nifty gadget just wasn’t making my life any easier, I set it aside one day in a desk drawer, and there it remained ever since.

Smartphones Led To The Tablet

Once smartphones came out and had access to the Internet – that was exciting. Now, something actually useful. Smartphones weren’t just about applications for storing addresses, birthdays and a calendar planner, but now you could actually browser the Internet with this little, mobile, pocket-sized device. I bought a Windows Mobile phone for the sole purpose of researching antique prices while attending auctions. Withing a few short years, these little gadgets quickly took off a life of their own.

checkingphone   I Cant Find a Single Productive Use For My Tablet [Opinion]

Everyone – and I mean everyone – has one of these things. Well, except for Justin, who impressively has resisted the mainstream adoption of this technology. But, why did the smartphone take off where other gadgets eventually fell by the wayside? It’s because they filled a void. Up until that point, people were regularly checking email whenever they were home or at the office, with access to a computer on the Internet. However, with the Internet-enabled Smartphone, you were no longer detached.

You can check your email while waiting at the doctor’s office, you can text your friends while riding the bus, you can reply to your boss just like you’re at the office while you’re hanging out at the bar with friends. Smartphones filled a void and made life easier and more convenient – and that’s why they were successful, but what about tablets?

Tablets As Another Novelty

So, while I found the Windows Phone, and later the Motorola Droid, to be wonderfully useful devices that greatly improved my productivity – devices that I really couldn’t live without today – my experience using a tablet for the first time was not the same. It didn’t fill a void. Instead, it felt just like when I first purchased that Casio organizer years ago.

The idea of a tablet is really cool. The concept of sitting on a beach chair at a beach on the coast of Maine, typing up a blog entry for my site while spending a sunny day with the family – now that’s cool. Certainly better than being stuck at home trying to get work done, right? In theory, it sounds great. In practice it’s a whole different ballgame. You can see this from Christian’s experience when he attempted to use only a tablet for a full week!

tabletfrustrated   I Cant Find a Single Productive Use For My Tablet [Opinion]

Okay, so he wasn’t just about ready to slam his tablet to the floor, but you could tell by the end of the experiment, Christian was outright exhausted. And that’s exactly how I feel whenever I try to use my tablet to get real work done – be it a blog post, or something as simple as taking notes.

As I mentioned in my past articles here at MUO, I thought the SuperNote app for taking notes was very impressive, because it could literally take your hand-scribbled letters or words and piece them into sentences on a note page.

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Guess what though – the novelty wears off. It’s cool and everything, but it’s still faster to write notes on a pad with a simple pen. If we’re just counting seconds on a clock and evaluating efficiency – a pen and pad wins out.

Then you’ve got blogging. The WordPress app appears pretty full-featured and functional when you’re on the main dashboard, but once you really start digging into writing posts and trying to format – the awkwardness of selecting segments of text, copying, pasting and moving the cursor around with the touch-based tablet environment can really turn into an exercise in futility.

screen3   I Cant Find a Single Productive Use For My Tablet [Opinion]

Sure, you get an on-screen keyboard to give you a hand, but what good is that if you’re always fighting with a cursor that won’t go where you need it to, and won’t stay there once you get it in place. It’s frustrating and too annoying to be really very useful.

Then there’s the problem with doing research. I have to admit, once I went to using dual monitors with my laptop, there was no turning back. I mean, seriously, how can you beat being able to read articles on one screen, and type notes or copy and paste links into the other?

dualscreen   I Cant Find a Single Productive Use For My Tablet [Opinion]

Dual monitors increased my personal productivity tremendously, and losing that second screen to a ridiculously smaller screen of a tablet is just – well, there’s no comparison. Productivity drops exponentially.

So – quite honestly, I feel like tablets are a short-lived fad. I still use it occasionally as a very simple tool in meetings sometimes as a whiteboard for brainstorming ideas with someone. But even then, a real whiteboard is so much better because it’s so big that everyone can see it, unlike that tiny little screen everyone is trying to squint at while you diagram your ideas.

The only thing that may save the tablet is the advent of Windows 8, and the idea of a “hybrid” PC – a computer that’s powerful enough and functional enough to behave like you would expect a good laptop computer to behave, but also with the tremendous benefits that a touch-screen offers. Those are benefits that can’t be understated – a touch screen can significantly improve your productivity if used the right way.

So that’s my take on the world of tablets. What’s your view? Have you found a good, productive use for them, or do you agree that they are really more of a novelty, and that you turn to your laptop when you have real work to accomplish? Weigh in and let us know your take in the comments section below.

Image Credits: Home Office Via Shutterstock, smash digital tablet via Shutterstock, teenagers using phones via Shutterstock, palm pilot via Shutterstock, man using a tablet

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133 Comments -

1 votes

John

CORRECTION: It all comes down to the apps. For example “Pixlr: Express” is a good web app that is simple enough for only needing touch interactions. I think tablets should highlight the simple productivity applications. Which means that tablets need to have really good peripherals. (i.e Great battery life, 10 megapixel cam, etc…)

0 votes

Schvenn Meister

I use mine endlessly as a news reader. Of course, I blog and read e-mail and watch some videos, schedule, do a bit of everything, but as an e-reader and news reader it’s endlessly useful and my preferred method of reading, especially since I’m not trapped at a desk.

1 votes

Ryan Dube

You know – maybe that’s my problem. Most of the day I’m trapped at a desk, so I have a laptop right there available. Maybe if I was a bit more mobile, I’d have that same need for a tablet like you describe.

5 votes

barney

Ryan, the desk could be your worst enemy vis-a-vis tablets. I don’t like ‘em on the desktop, but they work wonders on a [sail]boat – charting software, plotting software (not the same thing), directional software – involving coastal maps if you’re close enough. You can also get information on a lot of local marinas, as well as recommendations from fellow travelers. There’s also a wealth of boating information, both paid and free apps, available. Much of this can be done on a smartphone, of course, but a 7″ or 10″ screen makes it much easier.

If you’re sailing a desk, none of that is important, of course, but it is to some of us.

Oh, yeah … I cook … lots of recipe and cooking stuff available. And I don’t have to print it or haul my laptop into the kitchen. There’s a lot of fitness stuff, as well.

Step away from the desk, and you might find a number of uses not readily evident from an office chair.

0 votes

Blogger10101

If you’re on a boat, a tablet may be easier. The circumstances usually lend themselves to a convenient form factor. But if you’re sitting at a desk, and can avail yourself of a PC, the PC will always win.

0 votes

barney

Even on the desktop, a tablet is quite useful. I’m not going to use it to write code, design a page, or the like. But a tablet is much more convenient for reference materials than a book. If I’m developing, I’ll load a document/ebook for reference. If I’m configuring hardware, it’s quite handy for wiring diagrams, configuration instructions, and the like. I’m not saying the tablet replaces a desktop or laptop PC. I’m saying it is a valuable adjunct. Used within its capabilities, a tablet can be extremely useful, even on the desktop. The article is about *productive use* of the tablet, not about replacing the desktop system. Used within its limitations, a tablet can actually enhance productivity. By using the tablet as an adjunct to development, I keep my other screens free for that development, but I still have informational/instructional content available to me … it’s very much akin to adding another monitor for that purpose.

0 votes

Bruce W Fowler

You managed to distinguish between consumption and creation without – apparently – realizing it. Don’t give the distinction away now. The slab is good for the first, not the second.

0 votes

Ron Lister

My work is always mobile, I perform inspections, and being able to produce a preliminary report immediatly at the conclusion of my inspection is a god send. I use software that provides me with templets and a library of common faults along with a comment builder that allows me to modify as necessary. Once I’ve finished my inspection I can give a quick preliminary report, sync with my office computer to do any final research and compile a more complete report. without the tablet I would be writting everything then entering it into my computer after the inspection. I would be spending hours of extra time each inspection. I would say my tablet with the right software helps me to be more productive. A laptop is just too akward to use durring an inspection. Although this may not apply to your line of work tablets can be useful.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Good for you. Still, maybe I’d get ebook reader instead since I only need that feature.

0 votes

Schvenn Meister

An e-reader won’t let you read RSS feeds as well and social networking or gaming is out of the question. So, I have a WiFi only version to save money. The Acer a110 is definitely the best bang for the buck.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

I agree – I can imagine that extra-useful peripherals could transform a so-so useful tablet into a critically useful device.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“I can imagine that extra-useful peripherals could transform a so-so useful tablet into a critically useful device.”
And what would be the difference between a tablet with “extra-useful peripherals” and a laptop or a netbook? Laptops/netbooks already have those “extra-useful peripherals” built into them.

0 votes

Guy McDowell

You’re right. Although if you are MOSTLY an entertainment user of a tablet, you might get these peripherals for the odd travel situation where you might want to do a little writing or something better done with a physical keyboard.

0 votes

Guy McDowell

Something in the iPad mini size with the right kind of applications could be very useful in the industrial and retail world. Because of the advent of the barcode, QR code, RFID’s and more, production cycles and such could be tracked and managed with a tablet. Or inventory could be managed. Or sales pitches could be augmented with on-demand video about a product.

There is a place for tablets in the work place, it’s just that entertainment is the easiest and most profitable entry point into the market for new mediums.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“Because of the advent of the barcode, QR code, RFID’s and more, production cycles and such could be tracked and managed with a tablet. Or inventory could be managed”

Aren’t there purpose-built devices already to perform those functions? Why re-invent the wheel or cobble up a kludge? From what I’ve seen, the dedicated devices are better suited to the particular environment than a tablet would be.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

I think ultimately it comes down to mobility. You can definitely use dedicated devices on say a computer or laptop – but in certain applications, people may need the lighter/smaller mobility of the tablet with those peripherals?

I don’t know – I’m guessing here, because in my own experience I would opt for the laptop, but I can imagine there are lots of situations out there that require that sort of mobility.

0 votes

Ron Lister

I could see tablets being used in the medical field to pull up someones charts or make an entry, skype with another doctor in another hospital for consultation or a second oppinion, maybe to look at medical someones medical history. I agree its the mobility that is useful.

0 votes

dxraygirl

Actually Ron, there are many apps out there that are already or soon to be FDA approved for use in the medical Field. One of the biggest obsticles is HIPPA or patients privacy. But you will soon be seeing more and more tablets in both the hospitals, clinics and out in the field with the First responders. :)

0 votes

Guy McDowell

Depends, Many of the handheld scanners cost upwards of $800, plus the software. Many of them also run Windows CE or other slimmed down OS that can’t do video.

The handlheld devices are also quite bulky with their pistol-grips. Something the size of the mini iPad would could be slipped into a pocket.

The handhelds also have a shorter battery life than most tablets or cell phones.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“Something the size of the mini iPad would could be slipped into a pocket.”
And therein lies the problem as far as the industry using the device is concerned. If “it can be slipped into a pocket”, it can easily “walk away”. Also, the pistol grip is there not only to provide bulk but also a better grip on the device. You are thinking of these devices as consumer oriented, rhather than industry oriented. I’m sure that if the actual need was there, the purpose built devices would be miniaturized. It’s not like the technology does not already exist. After all, there is a recent MUO article about pen drive-sized computers.

0 votes

Guy McDowell

I’m guessing you’ve never tried using a handheld scanner with Windows CE in Northern Canada in the winter. Do you want to screw around with miniature buttons and a stylus or would you rather use gestures and conductive gloves?

When you’ve got to walk 2 kilometers into site through 2 feet of snow or slush, would you rather lug your toolbox AND something the size of a pistol-gripped scanner or a laptop, or just your toolbox and nice little tablet?

Doesn’t your head hurt from knowing everything?

0 votes

dragonmouth

“Doesn’t your head hurt from knowing everything?”

No more than yours does. /grin/

0 votes

Guy McDowell

Well played…

0 votes

dragonmouth

It is apparent that we both have been around the block a few times. Because we’ve had different experiences, we look at things from different perspectives. Neither point of view is right or wrong, it just is different.

0 votes

Robbie

I started with the Kindle Fire and liked it for the ‘extras’ with no intention to use it for productivity. The low cost made that acceptable and the size was easy to add to my laptop bag. I then purchased an iPad 3 thinking that I could use it for productive reasons – after all, the cost was right there with some laptops and definitely with desktops. Wrong answer. I thought it would be better to add a keypad – so I added the Zagg keyboard – and continued to look for ways to actually use the iPad. Not only do I have a larger, heavier item to carry – now I have another charger type to carry. I also can not download from my iPad without bouncing through the cloud (and that is pretty impossible when there is no internet connection). My travel is burdened with a minimum of 3 chargers (phone, laptop, iPad) and the weight that the laptops are slowly whittling off has come back X2 with an iPad in the bag.

I do see many doctors and nurses using the iPads – if they can use them for complicated issues in healthcare and records/privacy laws, I would like to do a simple spreadsheet, database or word document every bit the same as I can do on my laptop.

Airport security check has pulled my bags every time lately with all the cords – they say it’s “confusing” as to why I have so many devices and chargers… I tell them I feel the same, maybe the TSA could gather with those creating all these devices and simply a few things so we can all stop being ‘confused’.

1 votes

dave

I completely agree. I remember when Jobs first announced the iPad, I thought to myself “yea… but I got my phone for that. the iPad just looks and acts like a huge iPhone.”

I eventually got an iPad and for me, at least, it’s a glorified rss reader (side note: Reeder – great app). I’ve used it for controlling iTunes playlists when guests are over, but more novelty than anything. The one “ah-glad-i-have-it” moment is travelling, when I like to by pass sites that don’t have a “full site” option for mobile phones to book tours, events, stuff like that. It’s lighter than my laptop to carry.

I work for a digital agency, meaning it’s not a luddite environment by far, quite the opposite. But even at work, I see few tablets (maybe 1 or 2 people) being used for productivity. The ones that you would see using them regularly are being used for Q&A, testing, etc…

One caveat: My two nephews (ages 9 & 14) are completely glued to theirs. Games, surfing the web, Netflix, etc.. Maybe when my son arrives I’ll find more uses for it

0 votes

Kesigan Marimuthu

It does come down to Apps! I was studying for a big exam last year and my Textbooks fitted into 2 shoe boxes and were really heavy. Luckily the an extra $50 gave me access to my textbooks via the Vital Source App and I used my iPad to study while at the library in Airplane mode. Carrying 1 iPad was about 20 times more easier and convenient than carrying boxes of books.

It’s lighter and more portable than my laptop and I prefer reading on the iPad screen to my laptop screen! I would get about 10 hours of battery life on my iPad 2 (Airplane mode on 50% brightness) as well as use it in my breaks for a bit of casual gaming (Jetpack Joyride and Solipskier).

Now that i’m not studying and work at a desk I find I use my iPad far less. But it still comes in handy when wanting to quickly try out photo filters, a bit of casual gaming and as a remote for my iMac.

1 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Nice explanation. I can’t replace my textbooks with ebooks since I love to scribble and make annotations while I read, but I can understand your situation.

1 votes

Kesigan Marimuthu

Actually on the vital source app you can make highlights or notes and sync them online so that they are not device restricted. Admittedly it’s not as quick, and convenient as the real deal and i used the feature much less than i would use a highlighter or pencil but it was a sacrifice I made for not wanting to carry physical books.

0 votes

Kesigan Marimuthu

Actually on the vital source app you can make highlights or notes and sync them online so that they are not device restricted. Admittedly it’s not as quick, and convenient as the real deal and i used the feature much less than i would use a highlighter or pencil but it was a sacrifice I made for not wanting to carry physical books.

0 votes

Ellen Odza

Yes, but do you really need an iPad for that? You could do the same thing with an e-reader for half the price, couldn’t you?

2 votes

Saikat Basu

Maybe, we are looking at it the wrong way. Instead of a laptop and a tablet being the be-all devices, perhaps they are just the kings of their own domains. A laptop (or a PC) is the device for all the heavy lifting, but it’s a chore carrying it around for light reading. With the tablet, it is the reverse.

On the personal productivity front, tablets can be great for sketch-booking and mindmapping (though I wouldn’t buy an expensive tablet just for THAT). They can be good idea generation devices. A paper and pen would have sufficed, but heck it’s the march of technology.

Maybe, there are also uses we haven’t scratched yet. Cheaper tablets as teaching aids in developing countries for instance. Tablets are great for video narrations too

1 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

You’re right. Judging by the comment threads, a lot of people are using it as ebook reader. Kindle and the like is a specialized product that does only one thing, while having a tablet means you have the bell-and-whistles right there if you ever need them.

1 votes

Zooey

I bought a tablet to read books on it. There are so many apps on Android that have free books on them, so I decided to buy a tablet and read on that instead of trying to read on my phone. I also use it for reading news, research papers and have poetry and education-related apps on it that I use. And it’s going great!

I know it’s probably not great for my eyes, but it gets the job done without too much eye strain. Plus, Kindle does not function where I live and all those apps with free books are not on it either. I wasn’t going to shell out money on Amazon for e books I can get for free. :D

0 votes

Anonymous

You are right, I rarely use my tablet for serious work. However I have found several good uses for my Kindle Fire where a laptop would be less convenient. I use it as a e-cookbook, keeping it propped up near my workspace when cooking (my Marware case has a built-in stand). I also use it for entertainment to watch movies, HBO Go, Youtube, etc. It was a godsend when I recently had to be in a hospital waiting room or on a plane and the last thing I wanted to be was productive. And of course, it is an excellent e-reader although I still prefer paper books.

Having said that, if it had a swipe-keyboard I would probably use it for writing in bed. That would make it much more useful.

1 votes

Ken E Baker

Thanks for the great article, Ryan. I agree with you – I love my tech, but my tablet is the saddest piece of hardware I own. It does not get any love. Of course, that could be due to my owning the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 from Samsung and their god-awful software support. It took a year to get the ISC update and then Jelly Bean was released! Typing is a mission, even with Swype, and the OS is a choppy mess that cannot install an app and watch a video at the same time. I think it’s one of the reasons why I stay away for so long – the transition from the smoothness of my Galaxy Nexus to the juddering mess that is my tablet is a jarring and unpleasant experience.

1 votes

MikeVertx

YES! like the article, I’m in complete agreement and couldn’t have written or described the situation any more thoroughly.

I’m very similar though I skipped on the original casio/palm (non-phones) *digital organizers* and opted to go with the first original version of the windows phone… it was all-ready late in the game but early enough where the concept was in place but the technology hadn’t quite caught up yet, it took several years there-after and upgrades from the htc 8125 to 8525 8925 til, tilt2 to finally be truly advantageous. but off that tangent and ontop tablets…

I bought the same ASUS Transformer prime – mainly because the store rep showed me that it had a keyboard that could connect to it and make it “like a laptop” and could be attached/disconnected to stick with just tablet mode… this to me meant i could actually in theory get work done using it and thought ok this seems pretty cool I’m in. …well after really trying my best to be open minded about it and really spending a lot of time figuring out how this could benefit me and dealing with many many various errors, issues, challenges, and difficulties I ended up finding myself wondering “why am I bothering to use this? I can just take my laptop with me honestly”… what does the tablet do that my laptop can’t do BETTER and faster and more comfortably. At the end of the day I just kept wondering about that and the tablet began gathering dust as there just wasn’t a true answer that was acceptable.. yes it had touch screen yes it was smaller lighter and had a longer battery life, yes it allowed for apps and some clever data-capture and field marketing solutions…but as an everyday device there was no true benefit to me.

…I caved and picked up a laptop convertable tablet (which im using now) the lenovo ideapad and am rather impressed. The concept of windows 8 for laptops/desktop is extremely unappealing to me, it absolutely requires touch-screen (which this has) but even then it just seems utterly useless I’ve researched to death and checked with experts no there is simply no value. so I like many others opted for a work-around and am using start8 menu to bypass windows 8 entirely and convert back to my comfortable windows 7 atmosphere. Once you do that… the benefits becomes obvious… now there is an ultra-portable, light-weight, quality spec WINDOWS LAPTOP that also offers touch-screen and tablet-features. This is the best of both worlds the downside as a trade-off is microsoft’s ‘market place’ doesn’t compare in the least to google’s android ‘play’ market… but being able to run all of my windows programs and software and comfortably/easily share networks/transfer files has a much higher value over-all.

and so the android tablet bit the dust, and the next wave of actual computers has arrived in the ‘convertable’ series.

0 votes

John in Oklahoma

Thank you for finally saying what I have been thinking for a long time. When I want to do real work, I use my desktop or laptop computer.

0 votes

Duane Adam

I use my Nexus 7 to take down notes and write down ideas (Evernote). This might be out of topic but I am going to say it anyway, taking notes using a smart device looks kinda rude, people would think you’re doing something else (like being on Facebook or chatting), so I still prefer paper and pen especially in meetings. Back on topic, I also use my tablet to read news and eBooks.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

That’s exactly why I stopped doing it Duane! I realized people would think I’m checking my mail or on the web when in reality I’m trying to use the tablet to take notes. So there are some cultural stumbling blocks to using a tablet in that way as well. Great point.

0 votes

Aleksandra Huey

I’m T1 diabetic, and use my tablet for calculating carbs and logging my blood glucose and insulin on the go, instead to carry my laptop with me all the time.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

That’s an interesting use for a tablet Aleksandra – and one that I bet few people are aware of. Thanks so much for sharing.

0 votes

Andrew

Tablets are very productive for aviation applications.

I use ForeFlight on an iPad for briefings, fuel planning, and charting. It saves a huge amount of time in planning and increases in flight situational awareness with GPS overlays and data. Paper charts cost around $5 for each area they cover and can expire in as little as 28 days, so if you fly a lot then ForeFlight’s $75 subscription really pays for itself fast.

In sailplanes there is a similar moving map app called XCSoar, it’s open source too. When paired with a low priced tablet like a Streak 5 or Nexus the result is a $200-300 full featured glide computer with moving map.

Before tablets, specialized aviation devices had less functionality while maintaining astronomical prices of $2000. This is why companies like Garmin are hurting so badly as it is so much cheaper to buy a vanilla tablet and customize it for ones own purpose with a few apps.

Beyond flying applications I use my tablet for reading email, pdfs, news, books, etc. I also use it to take notes directly on powerpoint slides which is nice.
Sadly that’s about it… Clearly tablets are not user friendly for creating large/long content.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

I think your post proves that tablets can be very useful for very specific, niche applications. This actually sounds like an excellent use for it. I can think of a few good SCADA front-ends that tablets would be perfect for (where only visual pushbuttons or displays are needed). So there’s definitely a place for them.

5 votes

Guy McDowell

Problem with tablets, at least in the oil and gas world, is getting one that is Class 1 Div 2 safe. That is, areas where there is a possibility of explosive gases and such.

I’d also want one that was ruggedized, although I’m sure there’s an Otterbox like case out there somewhere.

0 votes

Ron Lister

panasonic H1 or H2 pro or elite might work for you

0 votes

Guy McDowell

Thanks, I’m going to have to look into those.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

That’s the point. Tablets are for consuming contents, not creating. That’s a good example. Are you a professional pilot or hobbyist?

0 votes

Jack

I really wanted a tablet for all the reasons stated here. However, the only time I turn it on now is to update apps. My 70 year old fingers can’t get into the on screen keyboard that easily (I know there are voice apps). I use Word a lot. I use a mouse a lot. I have a few books on the tablet, but prefer the warmth of a book. So, I think my tablet will go on the re-sell market.

0 votes

Larry Cadden

Tablets for productivity? That is funny.

After really watching people around me use computers, most could use a tablet fine. Since they are not using computers for work. What are they using them for? FB, G+, Twitter, video, email, book readers, browser games and that type of light weight and easy chair computing.

They shouldn’t even come with ‘productivity’ apps by default.

I am sitting on my couch typing this on my laptop, if I was to redo my computer life today. I would probably have a desktop setup (laptop with multiple external monitors and such) and a tablet for when I am laying on the couch. I would not be posting long comments like this then though, who wants to type long messages on those things?

0 votes

Ryan Dube

I have to agree with you Larry. They’re great for wasting time on games, social networks (just clicking likes and very short posts) or for watching video, etc…but for productivity it just doesn’t pan out. I’m with you on the value of a central laptop setup with external monitors – there is simply nothing at all that comes close to matching the productivity there.

0 votes

MathWiz

I received a second generation iPad as a gift. Used it twice… makes a good doorstop!

0 votes

Paul Smith

As a travel writer, my tablet is a perfect tool. It’s far easier to use a tablet on planes than a laptop. It weighs far less (another huge plus when travelling) and the on-screen keyboard is big enough to use – my iPad Mini is now default travel device.

As an author, it’s invaluable. My last book was written (mostly) on a laptop, but for editing I sent the draft .docx document to the Kindle app on my iPad Mini and edited by highlighting and attaching notes. You tend to skim-read when the pages are on a laptop; consuming it as a reader will makes a massive difference to the quality of the editing IMHO.

That book is out on Monday, by the way :)

http://bit.ly/talesfromtheedge

0 votes

MaggieL

It is about the apps (hugging Chrome for Android, especially tab synching and Terminal IDE https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spartacusrex.spartacuside&hl=en and Pocket Cloud https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wyse.pocketcloudfull )

but also: Your ability to enter text is totally ruled by the keyboards you have installed. (hugging Swype, SwiftKey Tablet and any BT keyboard you find convenient to schlep around).

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

So far, everyone I know are using it to play games. Casual games don’t take much time or skills and less daunting to beginners than gaming consoles (plus they won’t be labeled as geek).
Somemight have actually find a way to make it useful, but I think it’s still a long way to go to figure out how this can be out of limbo. I need something like dictionary or scientific calculator? My phone can do it (with JAVA!). I need something more complicated like making video? My laptop is here. I can’t find a place for tablet in my setup, so I don’t buy one.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

As I read this article’s comments, it occurs to me that tablet’s main use is consumption. It’s not suited for ‘productivity’ because it’s really not for it. We create things with our PC/laptop. We consume others’ creation with tablet (reading, watching video, etc).

0 votes

Sue Frantz

I agree completely.

I’m also fortunate to have a Fujitsu Lifebook Tablet PC. Most of the time I use it as a laptop, but it’s nice to have the touch screen that I can rotate and use for taking handwritten notes.

Here’s a cartoon that I think a number of the commenters here can identify with: http://thedoghousediaries.com/4557

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Haha – I love it!

0 votes

Ryan Dube

So true – I can see laying down on the couch or bed and watching movies or reading a book with it, and imagine especially enjoying that. My own problem may be that I have little time to consume, but when/if I do I see this as a perfect format for it. Great point Lisa!

0 votes

David

I use my tablet as a second screen to my laptop… Mobile productivity increased.

0 votes

Robbie

Please elaborate.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Yes – please do! Do you use a VNC server app on your tablet or something like that?

0 votes

Charles Rachor

I had a Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for the last 7 months and I loved it (had to get rid of it for money reasons, not because I didn’t like it). For my needs, it really was a consumption device. I loaded movies and music on it, and apps that I used daily. However, it wasn’t a content creation device. Sure I had the blogger app on there, but honestly, I never really used it.
Now, I have a droid RAZR m that I depend on a lot more. I still don’t create too much on it, but it’s still a possibility. In fact this comment is written entirely on my phones keyboard.
The author had a point though, until input methods are as easy to use as pen and paper, or voice recognition gets to 100% ease of use and accuracy….even devices like the transformer, with keyboards, are going to be relegated to more of a consumption role, than content creation. This is why I think future devices that follow in the Surface’s (not the RT version) footsteps will have a better chance of crossing that gap into content creation territory.

P.s. if that transformed is just collecting dust, I certainly wouldn’t object if you sent it my way ;)

5 votes

PD

Ryan – If you like drawing flowcharts and diagrams on the go, try out my recent gesture recognition diagram app on Google Play – DrawExpress. There is some learning curve but once you figure it out, you can flowcharting very fast that no other desktop app can offer at the moment.

0 votes

Matijaz

What kind of monster restricts their app to specific countries only? I get “This item cannot be installed in your device’s country” for all my devices

0 votes

PD

Hi Matijaz,
Sorry my app can support a certain ISO code inputs. As a dev I love to have everyone access to it. Without having everything fully internationalize yet I didn’t open up to all. I may missed some countries so if you are still interested please send me an email shown in Google play.

0 votes

Matijaz

Ok, cool then, you’re excused :) I’m sorry for off-topic but i really get frustrated when publishers/devs do this for no apparent reason :( Good luck with your app though :)

0 votes

Anonymous

My iPad 3 with Zagg keyboard / case is fantastic for mobile users. I carry it everywhere and use it as a reader (Kindle, GoodReader for PDFs, Pocket, Intarwebs). Flip it around and stand it in the keyboard and it’s the perfect Evernote note taking device. Can’t live without it.

0 votes

Jason

“Christian’s experience when he attempted to use only a laptop for a full week!” should read “…only a tablet for a full week!”

0 votes

Ryan Dube

Thanks Jason – nice catch!

0 votes

alex

I’m almost totally with you. The one use case I have for mine is reading PDF as my Kindle is just rubbish for that and most of the things I want to take with me and read away from a desk are in that format.

Sometimes it’s handy for glancing at maps or as a small second TV (iPlayer) when required. But as a productive tool which is your statement no it’s no use for being productive. They really are a consumptive device.

Even for email my N900 (old smartphone) trumps the Nexus 7 simply because two thumb typing with the real keyboard is way quicker.

0 votes

Strep Degree

Tablets to me are strictly media consumption devices. This differentiates them from laptops in that laptops are meant to be productivity toola as well as media consumption devices. I use my tablet whenever I’m out and about and plan on staying somewhere for an hour or two, example: Starbucks, dentists, study seshs at libraries, et c. One of the most memorable experiences where I’ve used tablets as an actual productivity tool was when I had to call bank of america to fix something. I used my tablet to switch between the BofA app and notes and was able to take notes while looking at a summary of my bank statements as well. Granted, I could have used a computer but the immediate availability of the tablet made it the more viable option at the time.

0 votes

Zach

I’m a web developer and use my tablet not only for testing the sites that I make but developing and creating the sites that I maintain (with the app diet coda). It’s been very nice to login to any of my servers from my tablet and make changes while on the go, add new content or functionality and be able to email my clients of the changes I’ve made. Time tracking and invoicing are also a breeze with just with Harvest and my tablet. And don’t get me wrong, I have a laptop and a 27″ secondary display at work and I love that setup. But now that I have a tablet it’s easier to leave my laptop at home. To say that you can’t create is just not true. Having a tablet is not a hardware problem but rather a software one. There are a companies that have solved it with great software solutions.

0 votes

Chuck

Thank you Ryan, for another thoughtful article. I have been sorta wanting to get a tablet for a long time and felt guilty about not getting with the herd and buying one. My problem is that although I can imagine using it for consuming content, I can’t imagine using it to create anything. I would happily plunk down the money if I thought it would add anything useful to my life, but I can’t imagine how it would. My son has an iPad with a wonderful Retina screen that he alternately refers to as his favorite inanimate travelling companion and curses for its various shortcomings. I will get a tablet someday I guess, but not until I can justify it better than I can now.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

I agree Chuck – it’s very hard to justify the cost of them while they’re only really effective for consuming. If they were more useful for productivity – like maybe the Microsoft Surface, as many folks here have mentioned – might be the answer. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how tablets evolve!

0 votes

dragonmouth

After reading all the comments, one thing is clear. Most people use a tablet like a large-screen smartphone but without the phone capability.

P.S. Not too long ago Netbooks were supposed to be the proverbial “IT”. Then they got supplanted by tablets. Any day now the tablets will get supplanted too. They are a niche device.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

I think you’re absolutely right – it’s more of a transitional technology than an endpoint. I am actually very much looking forward to seeing where this whole evolution of personal computing ends up. I do love the idea of laptops with touchscreens actually.

0 votes

dragonmouth

“I am actually very much looking forward to seeing where this whole evolution of personal computing ends up”

If I were you, I would not hold my breath. Evolution of personal computing is not going to end during your life time. Let me remind you what Ken Olsen, founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corp, said in 1977 – “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Or this famous quote from Sir William Gates of Redmond – “Why would anybody possibly need more than 640 Kb or memory?”

Personal computer will be put to uses we cannot conceive of currently.

0 votes

Brian Hauer

I agree. But I believe the root cause of my frustration is that tablets cause what I call the “Yet Another Application Platform Dilemma.”

I’ve written a fairly long response that I invite you to read: http://tiamat.tsotech.com/portable-computing-sucks

0 votes

Gman

When I’m at home, I plug my Surface RT into the TV and use it in Second screen only mode. It automatically picks up Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and makes everything bigger for the bigger screen. So, it basically becomes my home theater with fullscreen browser, skype and occasionally RDP for work.

Of course, you can’t be very productive on a TV either: it’s too far from you, but this ability to transform is what gives my tablet second life, because otherwise I use it only when I’m not at home and not at work, which happens not so often.

Now my laptop lays completely forgotten, because I take it with me only when I know for sure that I’ll need to work outside a workplace where I’ve got desktop PC, which for programmer is basically never.

0 votes

Vaibhav Kaushal

I think tablets are one of the most useless devices ever made.

0 votes

Alan

This is why i don’t have a tablet.

0 votes

Tim Race

My grandfather bought me the first iPad when it can out and for about a month or so I loved it. However, the lack of camera, non-optimized web pages, and truly forgettable apps got to me. I agree that virtual keyboards and flawed cursors will be the eventual death of the tablet as we know it. Not to mention a tablet’s multi-tasking abilities are pitiful compared to just using my laptop. A silver lining to this crap storm I think may have some promise, other than the newer laptops that are coming out, is the Microsoft surface. I feel it’s a step in the right direction with all the visual appeal of a tablet with the full keyboard of a laptop. The only downside I see is the size. When I think of a great tablet, I think of an iPad mini (easy to hold and use) with the keyboard of a surface that also has the ability to connect to game controllers and play console comparable games. More than just games like angry birds,which quite frankly, to me, aren’t that fun. Anyway I feel the surface can be that tablet if Microsoft puts their researchers to it.

0 votes

Anonymous

You can always use TEAMVIEWER for connecting to your desktop tower if you like to use your desktop games and apps if you can not always find anything good.

0 votes

Jimmy

Flip phone and desktop with 3 monitors, hi resolution mouse,memory out the ying yang. Probably my career is the reason i will never own a smart phone or tablet, nothing productive can done with these in my world. Besides my pointing finger loves a hi quality scroll button, it would get lonely.

0 votes

Steve

Believe it or not, I’m still using my ancient Acer Travelmate C110 convertible tablet running Windows XP Tablet edition. It can convert to a tablet configuration by rotating the screen & laying it flat but prefer to just push the screen flat then to sit it on my music stand. I have a specialised program to display my guitar chords & song lyrics and find the the keyboard shortcuts are very fast to operate and this maximises the screen area to display my songs. I will sometimes put it into tablet configuration when watching movies but in reality it is better in laptop mode because the screen angle can be fixed without having to constantly support it in tablet mode or to have to make or buy a support stand. My smartphone is a Nokia Communicator which is like a mini laptop – no touch screen but it has, once you get used to it – a very usable mini keyboard.

0 votes

Lee

Good points, but it’s a very personal choice. I do create content on my tablet. With a Bluetooth keyboard, it’s part of my novel writing arsenal. For those who would ask why I don’t use a laptop for writing on the go I say, look at the difference in size and weight. I certainly can’t do everything on it, but it saves a lot of effort. And I’ve done serious writing on a smartphone and a Palm Pilot as well. Very few excuses not to write.

0 votes

Ryan Dube

That’s true Lee, and I think I would be able to use my Tranformer Prime more for writing (it does have a keyboard after all) if it weren’t for the fact that my blog has very customized sections of text with ads and images – so I can’t just type up a quick blog post in a straight text field. I have to sort of jump around in the editing field, and as I described in this article, that’s very hard.

I suppose I could fix that by customizing my blog editing process so that I don’t have to do all of that jumping around – so I guess if a person is willing to put the work into it, you can overcome a tablet’s shortcomings in creative ways.

0 votes

lucb1e

> The only thing that may save the tablet is the advent of Windows 8, and the idea of a “hybrid” PC

That’s actually an interesting statement. I’m just unsure how many people are simply not productive in their spare time. They don’t develop games, blog, contribute to open source software, or do anything in particular besides the household and clicking “like” on oh-so-important status updates.

For me, our family tablet was a good alternative to read ebooks without having to stare at a 2.2 inch Nokia E75 screen and testing how app development works. Since I got a Galaxy Note II (5.5″ smartphone), I haven’t used the tablet anymore. In the first weeks that I had the Note, I also left my pc for many things, trying out the various possibilities of my Note mostly, but now that I’ve seen most things that Android can do (for example run a VM with Debian, or turn Android into a router between two networks), I’m turning back to my pc and laptop again.

The only time I’ve found a smartphone to be productive is when I connect my desktop keyboard. I can write at 550chars/minute, navigate with cursor keys (and its combinations with ctrl and shift), and it just all works. The screen is a bit small to work on, but for a blogpost it’s certainly doable; a hundred times better than touchscreen typing.

A two-screen desktop setup is not that useful for me. Had it for 5 months during my previous internship, and it was useful because the individual screens were smaller… but with Windows 7 (where you can right- and left-align windows easily), a 23″ full hd screen (1920×1080) does the job equally well for me.

0 votes

Alan Miller

This seems to be mostly looking at tablets as potential computer replacements, but that’s not really where they’re good. A tablet (or phone) can be a decent supplement but is unlikely to be a replacement.

A few areas to consider:
* When you’re mobile with a laptop and used to working on multiple monitors, there’s software you can use to make a tablet or “phablet” into a second monitor. This depends on you having a reasonable stand and you’ll probably want it plugged in (at least if it’s a phone and you want to preserve battery life), but at least one of the options (iDisplay, iOS and Android) works with either Wifi or USB as a connection.
* Offload non-essentials or things you’d like to be able to refer to – ebooks, to-do lists.
* Offload communications (email, twitter, etc.) that you might otherwise be tempted to have on your laptop – if those are on the tablet, you’re not flipping over to them on your primary machine.
* (mostly phones) As a capture device, these may not be as fast or flexible as pen and paper, but where they can be great is as meta-capture devices: take notes, draw, etc., then take a picture of it in something that auto-syncs for you to process further later (e.g. convert that quick sketch into a network diagram)

0 votes

sheala

I also disagree. I’m an artist and I load mine up with reference and pictures and whatnot. Good for at home, so as not to get pulled into other ‘laptop’ activities (e-mail, social etc.). Plus it’s all in one place. Great when I’m out on the road doing murals or working out of the house on art projects. It has changed how I work in that way and put an end to endless printouts that smudge with the barest hint of water. Wouldn’t trade it.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

I absolutely agree with this. Tablets are consumption devices, not creation devices. I love using my Nexus 7 to read stuff (particularly with Pocket, but also in the browser) and it’s good for mobile games (although I’m not very into mobile games).

When something actually needs to get done, I use the laptop. I’m chained to the laptop most of the time, so I don’t use the tablet too much, but it still has its role.

0 votes

creeem

Makeusof hires such guys to write? This looks like an article written by a techphobe…rather only a tablet phone because he still uses dual monitors and laptops.
I am sure before getting on from the typewriter to a computer he must have written a few articles like this :-P.
Actually its a very “clever” article”(waits its “cunning” not clever there is a difference ;-) ). He talks about a casio which cannot be compared to a tablet and while keeping you there tries to make you run those same emotions while he quickly shifts to talking about tablets.

You are wrong even with the Casio. Yeah its really fast scribbling on a piece of paper. How do you carry those pieces of paper? How much empty paper do you carry when you are on the field? If you were a fridge with a couple hundred magents yes, scriblling everything down on a piece of paper is much better.
But still you would never get it organized.
Shoot me dead if you say that taking a real piece of paper and placing it under another to organize it is easier that cut and paste :-P.

That is why those “thingys” were called organizers. That is why the world went paperless. Its a ton easier to organize 2000 pages of data on a computer. Now its not so much fun for a data entry person to enter those 2000 pages.

Basically you sound like a data entry operator cribbing how maintaining files on a computer is not for him. Yeah because he has no idea what do people with higher IQ levels that him can achieve with those data once it is on a computer(And thousand times faster than they would in pre-computer/digital era).

Do I even need to talk about how wrong he is about the tablet.
He compares it with a dual monitor computer.
Lets all lug around dual monitor computer with us. And let use scan all the post it notes on one monitor and watch OCR turn it into text on the other monitor.

In the comments you say you never leave your desk otherwise you would have “felt the need for a tablet”!! WOW….So according to that logic even parachutes are pretty useless. Since you are trapped to your desk, maybe if you were skydiving or flying an airplane you might have felt the need for a parachute.

Seriously after commenting I am thinking maybe this might be the first “TROLL” article. You thought one could only troll through comments.!! No wonder Makeusof approved this… A social experiment? Makeuse off??

0 votes

Ryan Dube

From the parts of your comment that I understood, I’d have to say – no, I’m very much not a technophobe (it’s not spelled techphobe). If a tablet were actually capable of performing as well as a laptop, I would not be tied to the desk. If you read the article, you’d notice I mentioned that I had dreams of using a tablet to blog while sitting on the beach with the family. I even tried doing that – but, for the reasons I described, it didn’t work out. So yes, I’m still tied to the desk.

I do have dreams of a day when I can be just as productive with a mobile device as I am with a laptop – maybe Microsoft Surface is the future there – but right now, tablets just don’t cut it.

Thanks for your comment.

0 votes

creeem

That was a typo, and I am glad I made that typo. :-) Cause it sure shows how well you can hold your own. You would rather attack a spelling mistake than admit you have got this whole thing wrong.
I did not actually call you a technophobe, I did mentioned you can’t be one since you use laptops and desktops.

You know I don’t even use a laptop because its not powerful enough for me. I would like a 3 monitor computer (I have only 1).
But I won’t be writing such an article that thrashes the laptop for all the wrong reasons.
Same for tablets. I could never understand 12 inch laptop but sure would love a 12 inch tablet. But thats just me. I know a lot of people who get a lot of things done on a 10 inch notebook(Asus EEPC)
It worked for them.
This article is really should have been part of a personal blog and not on a tech blog.
Cause this is only about how a tablet is completely useless to YOU and that is only because you never move out of your desk. WOW that really sums it all up doesn’t it :-)

0 votes
0 votes

creeem

I don’t own a smartphone either ;-)
I just skimmed the article and he sounds like my alter ego :-)
I too made my not so smartphone do enough for me. That is to check emails facebook and even google maps!!. Youtube too.
I developed my own skin for it. So you see I am smart enough to make a dumb phone smart :-P.

What I would like to do when I am mobile even a laptop cannot do, forget a smartphone. I have an HTC ONE lying catching dust. Its brand new and I have never used it to speak even once. The battery back up is just ridiculous(for all smart phones) I need to TALK on my phone for atleast 3 hours a day without having to worry about charging.
I like to have personal conversations when I am outside having a coffee or simply relaxing. I just cannot afford my phone to die out after one long conversation.

There are phones out there like the RAZR MAXX but its not worth the money, If I am paying that much it better be more smarter than it is. :-P

I will sure be buying a few phones and tablets though just to test websites.
In 5 years maybe I would use a tablet or I will have to design one with a 20000 mah battery.
Nuff said you get what i mean.

Its sad that you referred that article to me because you really don’t see the point. You don’t see how wrong you are :-). But I hope you see it now atleast you know I simply don’t form opinions.
At the risk of sounding cliched you are trying to judge a fish by its ability to climb trees. Your entire discontent with the tablet is based on this :-)

1 votes

Guy McDowell

I wonder why sales of the Moleskine notebooks are up so much?

0 votes

dragonmouth

I notice you criticize Ryan for explaining why a tablet does not work for him but you do not tell us how it works for you. Please do give us some examples of tasks you perform on your tablet.

0 votes

Ron Lister

you could try to have someone bid to develop an app for writing a blog away from the desk. “mobile” for you. who knows it might turn into a popular app.

http://app.designcrowd.com/bids

or

https://apptank.com/

check them out maybe they have one already worth checking though. right.

0 votes

sdfds

Anyone who thinks that a tablet can replace a laptop/desktop is a fool. They are made for (mostly) consumption. Their touchscreens, far smaller than most laptops’ screens, are not made for production or (most) gaming. A decent tablet is useful at times – write down notes, read books/textbooks, check information quickly, watch shows, etc. It has its uses, but cannot and should not be compared to a laptop. If you do, you will be disappointed.

0 votes

Brandon Ragoo

I use mines to do basic task such as reading articles, watching YouTube videos and pictures I stored in Google plus, but when I try to use it for any other purpose such as doing lots of research for an assignment or typing a document its really stressful for me also. I will also like to mention that I use Linux instead of using multiple monitors as from experience its much more easy to research and type documents at the same time with the several virtual desktop environments.

0 votes

Kat Maree

I get the “freaks” when out at some function or festival taking photos using a respectable DSLR and some nut with a tablet blocks the view while trying to photo or movie the event.
It seems the only use for these huge square pads is to wave them over the heads of others.
Do they really take better pictures that can be resized and manipulated than a DSLR?

0 votes

Guy McDowell

No, nothing to date beats a dSLR for good photo’s and video’s. Analog methods always capture more data and result in a better copy of the original.

0 votes

Trevor

Good one John – I agree. Have you checked out the Asus Taichi with two screens: the touch screen for reading and surfing the rest of the machine for productive stuff.
cheers

0 votes

Trevor

Sorry Ryan not John!
Der!

0 votes

Andy Curtis

Very nicely said.. And I like your summary… I agree that Win8 may ultimately be the saviour of the tablet.. Having finally got used to my Sony Vaio Slider (Win 8 tablet hybrid), after a dozen or so other tablets over the years, I finally value the ability to show and hide a REAL, fully finger-friendly keyboard… Hybrid devices like the slider will continue to rule in the mobile-productivity stakes. SmartPhones will never replace desktops and laptops / hybrids.. But the end of the “traditional” laptop may well have arrived with the advent of high-quality hybrid devices.
Cheers – Andy C

0 votes

Mark Alsisto

i think it’s basically down to what you are doing with your daily life. If it requires something that needs lots and lots of searching and typing, laptops/desktops are better. But if it’s only for checking emails, reading, surfing here and there, facebook, all those simple personal thingy, then tablets are your tech.

0 votes

Vincent Estrellado

buying an android tablet then adding a wireless keyboard and mouse to increase productivy is still cheaper than buying netbook or a laptop. and you get that touch capability.

0 votes

Ron Lister

I think that tablet makers, app builders, software developers can make tablets more productive and as more companies begin to use them and there is a call for productivity and business oriented applications then we will see the tablet develop into a more productive tool in more fields than the few nitches that have found a use for them currently. the Developers have to know what is needed in order to develop an app or software to do it. The tablet makers need to know if there is a need for a tough tablet or if there is a need for an ultralight tablet that can be handled in one hand as you walk around with out the fear of dropping it, or for one that is water resistant and can brave the elements. etc… they only make what they think will sell and right now the tablet is a fun and trendy toy that could have more potential if they knew which direction to go to make it so.

0 votes

Tony

I bought my wife an iPad about 6 months ago. She loves it & the ability to send pictaures instantly — I have also noticed that at least where I live a humoungus number of women love the device.

Personally, I didn’t like it. For word processing I need a desktop, big screen, and my trusty Rosewell with Cherry MX Brown switch keyboard. If you’re a touch typist, none of these tablet devices seems terribly useful.

I will (someday) break down for a 10″ tablet, but it will be to supplement my Kindle Paperwhite ebook reader. And the Kindles suck on pdf files, emagazines, and full color cookbooks. I also find tha my laptop just doesn’t work well enough for me to use it much as an ebook reader of any kind.

And oh yes, the tablet will have to be a lot more open source than Apple, and no more than $200 :-)

0 votes

diana d

As a part time student and full time mother I would have to say that the best use I’ve found for the tablet is education. My son and I both have tablets and we ‘do our homework’ together all the time. He gets to play edutainment enriched games and I get access to my textbooks, my notebooks, my flashcards, and something called “Blackboard” that enables me to see what homework my teachers require of me and also upload my completed projects.
As far as education is concerned, the tablet peripheral is irreplaceable.

0 votes

Alan Craig

I kind of look at the tablet as a jack of all trades, master of none type of device, it does many things sort of well, but it doesn’t do anything that spectacularly. It seems that there is always some purpose built device that does something better…but it is generally more expensive too. It seems to me that the tablet fills a space, where either you cannot afford that better device, or that better device is cumbersome to take with you. I find that Ryan echoes my thoughts exactly, we seem to have gone through a very similar experience, though I’m not a blogger, I am a tech professional, and as such am constantly near a PC or laptop that is much easier to perform the required task on. I will actually get up off the couch, with my tablet laying near by, to go use my desktop PC, because those 10 steps save me a ton of time and frustration in the long run. There is a TV right in front of me to watch movies or play games on. And when I’m out somewhere I am either busy doing what I went out for, or just enjoying the time I get to spend away from computers. I don’t really enjoy the whole social media and email things too much, and if there is something urgent, that’s what my phone is for. So unfortunately I think my tablet purchase may have been a bit of a misstep. :( By the way, thanks for the article Ryan, I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one that felt that disappointed with my tablet, since everyone else seems to love theirs. lol

1 votes

Lynne McCurdy

I read books, play the occasional game, watch movies, catch up on the news…My Vizio Vtab is my “Book with benefits.” If I have a day of Doctor appointments, waiting rooms, etc., I have lots to do without carrying a heavy load or worrying about battery life. It’s a bonus that I can schedule things on my calendar, check my email, check FB, google the side effects of the prescription I just got. It doesn’t do everything well… but it does do just about anything I need to do…”there’s an app for that!” I can even track my diet, exercise, and meds daily. I can generate documents. I usually use my eeepc 1005ha netbook at home…I’m using it to write this post. My desktop is running netflix or some such. My tablet is best for away from home. Oh wait! It’s the best cookbook in the world. I bet I have 700 recipes or more. And it’s just plain fun to carry around a couple thousand books in a package that weighs about a pound!

0 votes

paolino

I do most of my work on Excel, and a spreadsheet is almost unusable on a tablet. So long for the productivity. OTOH, my Galaxy Tab is quite good for couch casual browsing and reading, youtube videos, e-books and the like.

1 votes

Georges

To me laptop is very heavy to carry around or sit comfortable and use it. PCs are great but they are big and need space. Phones are great and I love smartphones but I outgrew them. I want to do everything, well almost, but with comfort. I sit all day at work at my desk and my back is killing me by 6 pm. I thought about buying a laptop (I use one from work) but I wasn’t impressed by the range on offer, big or small. There are no apps developed specifically for laptops (not all laptops are very powerful). Like you I thought tables are novelty until my wife got one. I thought what the hell is she going to use it for. Well, she came up with this (that she actually do):

1. games (obviously)
2. digital magazine subscriptions.no more magazines scattered around the house.
3. Newspaper subscription.
4. ebooks of all sorts.
5. Web surfing
6. Emails
7. Skype and facebook to talk to her family/friends around the globe (cheaper)
8. Writing (word processing)
9. Notes for school meeting, dinner, all sort of meetings
10. Calendar with alarms :-)
11. Piano lessons
12. Photo albums
13. Gardening videos and articles
14. cooking videos and articles
15. shopping (of all sorts, M&S, Tesco, Asda, Milk&more, Amazon, Ebay etc)
16. finance and budgeting

I give up at this point. Then my daughter wanted one. So I bought here one (an Ipad mini) and I asked myself why? Here is what she does with it:

1. Games (yet again).
2. Web surfing and home work researching.
3. Writing and presentation for school (Pages and Keynotes)
4. Magazine subscription
5. facebook
6. twitter
7. GCSE revisions apps.
8. Email.
9. Facetime
10. Calendar
11. youtube
12. videos and movies
13. music
14, guitar lessons and training apps.
15. Build a portfolio for her make up artist diploma.
16. Ebooks for school and leisure.

Then I thought to myself, what the hell is going on, so I bought my 3rd Ipad mini and here is why:

1. No games (I know I shocked you :-) ) I play mmorpg on PC.
2. Documents and presentation for personal, work, blogging
3. Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, blogs
4. youtube
5. Ebay, amazon, M&S, Tesco etc …
6. Budgeting and finance (in case the wife missed something :-) )
7. Photography, apps, photo albums
8. Camera connection etc. for Canon DSLR and quite few related apps
9. organizing (calendars etc), notes
10. blood pressure (my heart is weak) monitoring
11. forum reading (apps)
12. magazine and newspaper subscriptions
13. route planners
14. podcasts, music, videos etc. of all sorts such as Gadget show, Engadget, the register, photography etc.
15. Ebooks and tons of technical articles in PDF
16. News channels, Catchup channels, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, etc.

and more, I am tired now. The beauty of it is that we all do it whilst sitting on the couch comfortably holding the tablets (ipad mini) in our hands and sipping a hot chocolate.

Everything is synced and backed up on Icloud, SkyDrive, and DropBox. So we all share quite a lot and I can keep tab on my children homework progress as well. They are small enough to carry in a school bag, camera bag, hand bag etc. I don’t worry about the battery as we are always somewhere near a power point (I live in the UK :-) ).

Now doing all these with a laptop is expensive, hardware and software wise. Remember that the average person does not require a full fledging app to do a document or a spread sheet or keep an eye on finance.

I did not write this to convince anyone just to highlight that they do have a genuine use.

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P Grffin

Personally, I realized I don’t need a powerful PC anymore, as I play less – mostly browsing or watching movies. So I sold my gaming PC to get a low TDP based rig with a big HDD for file storage. And I got a 9.7″ tablet, big enough to see without a magnifying glass. :)

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Patricia Valadez

Thanks so much for this article! I’ve been spending months trying to justify buying a tablet for myself. Now I don’t have to bother, and I can spend the money elsewhere. You’ve answered most of the questions I was asking myself as far as how productive I could actually be while using a tablet, as opposed to using my trusty laptop.

Now I can start saving for a desktop and dual screens instead. lol

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Lara

Maybe the problem is that some of you have the wrong tablet. I had a similar opinion until I purchased a Galaxy Note 10.1. The stylus allows for true productivity. I take notes, (preserved as either my handwriting, or converted on the fly to editable text), mark up PDF files for class (I am a teacher), store all my textbooks on it, and create and access Evernote documents. I’ve begun taking a screen shot of my classroom whiteboard at the end of each class and stashing it Evernote to use for prep the next time I teach the subject. It’s also fun for games and movies when traveling. I dumped a 1st-Gen iPad and a Galaxy Tab 10.1 for this Note and do not regret it at all. I have gotten rid of all the legal pads that were cluttering up my home office and school office and now all my notes for any project are organized into a single place and I can find everything I need. Wonderful device.

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Kory Arthur

I am a visual person so I use my tablet primarily as a media controller for the htpc and checking diagnostics of computer. It is helpful having the imdb app for info and a upnp client app for media streaming

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Janet Windsor

I love my tablet. I use it daily. I have both the Kindle app and the Nook app with a total of 1200+ books (almost all free), several games I enjoy, 3 versions of solitare, directTV, and several medical apps (I am a home health aide). It’s easy for me to take on the bus and take to work. It fits on the kitchen table, and easily taken to bed, to read or play games. I am always connected, I have wifi in the house and most places that I go. I got a laptop and a desktop. The laptop was not as portable as I had hoped, I can move it around easier than the desktop but I am not going to carry it around the house or to work. My tablet cost less than $100 and lets me move around and have alot of fun. I got a case that has a keyboard that will plug in to the usb port and turns it into a mini-laptop when I need to do alot of typing. I use all of my devices in their place. I of course have a cell phone, but not a smart phone because of a) the big bill, and b) my eyes are over fifty. My desktop is for gaming and burning moves and the laptop I use when the desktop is busy. I can do most things from the tablet and its small size lets me be with everyone else in the kitchen or living room.

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Tom Sobieski

You must nor have received the memo:
Like an iPad, tablets are entertainment devices. They can be used to increase productivity but much like a dancing pig, it’s a wonder it can dance at all.

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Sandra Bruckner

Loved your article. While I love tablets, they are also very limiting. I find them useful for e-mail and surfing the net for articles, etc. For anything more than that, however, you are right, you reach for the real laptop very fast!

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Angela Alcorn

I saw a fantastic use for tablets at work a while ago: A sound tech controlling the mix & levels. He wandered around the whole audience to hear how it sounded, then could make adjustments from where he stood and instantly hear the results of his new mix. I thought it was brilliant. Not for everyone though, obviously. :)

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Sebastião P Nunes

Hey Ryan, your article is very opportunistic I must say. And the analogy with the Casio was stellar, as I felt the same idiot with it and it ended up in my drawer lost in dust.

Regarding the Tablet I agree it is similar dichotomy that one goes through. Like most of thing in life. Happiness is never a complete thing. It is a partial thing, like productivity with gadgets.

I found a great use for the iPad on the road, specially for long hours airport lounge waiting. You need more than a Smartphone but you don’t want to use your laptop nor you have availability of electrical outlets in most airports. But you can go through your pictures taken in the trip, the music, your Evernote and Whatsapp with more freedom and less effort to your eyes. Even for a film (previously loaded) to go through couple of hours inside the plane.

My conclusion is that long will live the iPad and all descendants but never replacing the full computer. I can’t think of my productivy being possible away from my MacBook Pro (I used to be a Windows user). That said, I think that iPad is great for specific niches. A bientôt!

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Caroline West

Popular comment thread!

I am disappointed as well. I have the Nexus 7 and can’t really do much as expected on it. I agree that writing notes down with a pen and paper is quicker. I honestly don’t know what to do with my tablet. I have an e-reader so books is not a problem. The best use so far I have found is listening and watching TED talks.

I really don’t know WHAT to do with it. And I would go nuts if I would have to solely rely on one.

Are they a fad? IMHO – They are just here until the next new thing comes along whatever could top what is out there already. I’m sure company’s are exploring that one already.

Another thing…. I am not much impressed with my Windows phone either. Wow! I thought, my own Smart phone….. And?

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Tom Sobieski

I have 2 Android tabs and a Fire HD. Out oh the patio, or lying in bed, as I am now doing, the tablets, especially the Fire, allows me to go through e mail no sweat, freeing up a lot of time for other things. I think you are just fishing fot publicity. Tablets are popular for a reason, and not a fad. After all, Jean-Luc Picard uses them constantly.

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UltimateByte

Tablets are useless because or horrible display input lag (often more than 80 or 120ms)

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Anonymous

I primarily use my Nexus 7 tablet to listen to radio (iHeartRadio and tunein), podcasts (DoggCatcher) and as a really smart clock radio (Alltock Procrastinator’s Clock). I can also pick it up to do Twitter and Facebook or read and quick reply to email I’ll deal with on my laptop later.

I will likely buy the 3G version primarily for entertainment use in the car (iHeart, tunein, podcasts, music, CarHomeUltra), once I can find a perfect mounting solution. I’ve been through a lot of less than perfect and near perfect mounts. They are the weak link in that setup. A tablet in the car needs to add flexibility and not introduce distraction.

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yuitre

Long live the desktop, eh?

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Gary Roberts

My son has an Ipad. I admit it has some very interesting and useful apps and the resolution and gaming is excellent. I enjoy games, but that’s not enough for me. Like you I need a computer that will address all my computing needs, especially managing spreadsheets and writing. This week I received a Surface Pro. It does meet all my computing needs. As much as I like the tablets, using a desktop with a 24 inch monitor, two monitors even better, is still preferable. The Surface Pro is my choice when away from home and some spreadsheet updates at home. The point is there is no replacement for large multiple monitors for work related computing.

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Prafulla Bhalde

Samsung Tab2 for me.

my primary reason to buy it was navigation. finding my way in unknown cities.

carrying all your books around, and mails and facebook and whatsapp and all the other ‘normal’ uses of net are good. i do use them on the tab. but i love that 7 inch screen and the voice guided navigation it offers.

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Bhushan

100% agreed. If you need to goggle the uses of tablet that means its not so usefull for you. (Applicable to me:))