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Some people would have you believe that you don’t need a tablet anymore, that everything you use a tablet for can be done just as well or better with another device. But is that really the case? Or is a tablet still an essential item?
In the mere six years since the iPad burst onto the scene, an estimated one billion tablets of various sizes and quality have been sold, and while sales have certainly leveled off, that’s mostly because the market is now saturated.
If you have a tablet and have stopped using it, or you never got one, here are some reasons why you may want to reconsider and/or start using one.
1. It’s Bigger Than Your Phone
There’s been a trend toward bigger phones over the past few years — which are hideously called “phablets” — but who wants to carry a phone that big everywhere? Who needs a two-handed phone? At that point, it may as well be a tablet.
Having a tablet means you can keep a regular pocket-fitting one-handed phone while having a larger device in reserve for times when you need to work, when you want to play games, or when your phone is too cramped.
While some of the larger phones on the market approach the screen size of a small tablet, even the largest phablet has a screen size around half that of a full-sized tablet. That’s a big difference whether you’re watching movies or looking at spreadsheets.
For some, it might even be worth considering a combination of “dumb” phone and tablet instead. A dumb phone is smaller, cheaper, and more resilient than a smartphone and has a battery life measured in days rather than hours.
If you’re always within range of a Wi-Fi connection, you won’t even need a data plan.
Keep your phone for making calls and sending texts, and your tablet for everything else. You might find that having to switch to a separate device to go online helps you avoid distractions and that not receiving notifications every time you check the time on your phone frees you from checking Facebook a hundred times a day.
2. It’s Smaller Than Your Laptop
A good tablet can do most of the things a laptop can do. It’s smaller, faster, and more convenient all round. You may not want it to be your main device, but if you already have a desktop PC or a bulky laptop then a 10-inch tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard can fill in when you’re on the road.
Yes, there’s a trend towards smaller, lighter laptops too, but for the moment your choices are between something very expensive, something very weak, or any of a range of two-in-ones or hybrids that are basically just tablets with keyboards anyway.
If you already have a tablet, get a suitable keyboard and you have everything you need to work while traveling light.
3. It Does More Than Your E-Reader
E-readers are great, and in some situations, an e-reader is a better choice than a tablet. An e-ink screen is more comfortable to read and the battery life of an e-reader is much longer than that of a tablet.
But in good lighting and with the right settings, a tablet is fine for reading, even for long periods, and battery life is rarely an issue — the eight to ten hours of the average tablet is usually more than adequate per session.
There are times when an e-reader falls short and only a tablet will do. When you want to read magazines or graphic novels, a vibrant full-color tablet is a much better bet than a dull grayscale e-reader.
A larger screen size is also an advantage there as it’s closer in size to the original format, and while large-format e-readers exist, they’re not a useful option for most people.
Most e-readers have a built-in dictionary and the Kindle even has a browser, but doing any kind of serious searching on an e-reader is a drag. Many non-fiction books will include links to online articles, or even videos, and reading on a tablet means they’re just a tap away.
4. For Use in the Kitchen
In retrospect, tablets could almost have been designed purely to replace traditional cookbooks. They give you access to an almost infinite number of recipes, video tutorials, conversion and substitution charts, forums for questions, and more.
And the format of the tablet is perfect for the kitchen — yet another situation where a phone is too small but a laptop is too unwieldy. You could even consider getting a cheap tablet just for cooking, load it up with cookery apps and links, and not have to worry about an expensive device getting covered in hollandaise sauce.
5. For Kids to Play With
If you have children, you don’t want them messing with your personal phone, and you certainly don’t want their grubby, sticky fingers all over your computer. Giving an old tablet to the kids could be a great solution (if you don’t have one, buy a cheap one for them).
Amazon’s Fire tablet is only $50 and comes in a Kid’s Edition that includes a carry case, access to loads of age-appropriate games and apps, child protection settings, and a no-questions-asked replacement policy.
6. For Personal Projects
If you have a little time and a little patience, there are simply loads of things you can do with an old tablet — or, considering prices start at around $50, a new one. You can turn it into a media server, a retro games console, a mouse and keyboard, a digital picture frame, or any number of other things.
Your tablet is basically a small touschscreen computer with a camera (or two) and there’s almost no limit to what you can do with one.
7. As a Backup Device
So what if you have a large phone, a small laptop, an e-reader, no kids, you live mostly on pizza, and you don’t feel like taking on any kinds of projects? If that describes you, you may be wondering if you really need a tablet after all.
Well, as a worst case scenario, if any or all of your other devices suddenly stop working for some reason and you need to get something done right this minute, a tablet can always fill in.
A tablet is the jack-of-all-trades in the electronics world. It can do everything a smartphone can do (except make phone calls), everything an e-reader can do (and in full color) and pretty much everything a laptop can do (except run a few unique programs).
It can certainly substitute for any of them while you wait for a repair or replacement. It can also fill in for a camera, a remote control, a radio, an alarm clock and almost any electronic device you can think of.
The age of the tablet is far from over. We’ll never want phones big enough to replace them, a laptop as small and light as a tablet will always be a compromise, and e-readers will either stagnate or evolve until they’re indistinguishable from tablets. The tablet is here to stay.
Do you think a tablet is essential or do you get by without one? Do you use one for anything not mentioned here? If your tablet broke, would you replace it? Let us know in the comments.