Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tablets, tablets, and more tablets. Does anybody have an advil?

Tablets seem to be all the hype nowadays: Samsung Galaxy Tab, iPad, iPad 2, BlackBerry PlayBook, Dell Streak, and I'm probably forgetting a few more. With so many devices to choose from, I find myself asking whether I want one. The answer I keep coming up with is "definitely not."

For a device that's not easily-pocketable, the smallest screen size I'm willing to accept is 13". At that size, I might as well get a fully-featured laptop. Most 13" laptops are moderately portable, can run a great deal more applications, have hardware keyboards for easy and quick typing, serve dutifully as both business and entertainment tools, and have considerably more storage space. Granted, a laptop is probably going to set me back $800 or so while the average tablet is half that price, but the value I'd get from a laptop is much higher than the value I'd get from a tablet.

I also call a tablet's portability into question. I don't see very many people playing with their tablets on the subway, bus, train, and in cafés. And although spotting a laptop on the subway or bus is about equally as rare, cafés are full of them. For those itching to touch their screens, a variety of products exists to turn ordinary laptop screens into touchscreens--and there's the old-fashioned tablet laptop.

I admit that I don't have much personal experience with tablets. I spent about an hour playing with an iPad but it wasn't a particularly enjoyable experience for me--in part because I dislike Apple's closed ecosystem. It felt like playing with a much bigger iPod. I assume that an Android tablet would offer a similar experience to the one I get with my HTC Desire Z, albeit with a larger screen and lacking the phone capability.

Is a tablet something I would want to get? No. I don't see tablets offering any benefit over a fully-featured portable laptop or even a netbook. What do you think?

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