Originally published: February 12, 2011 http://blogs.republicanherald.com/tech/?p=18
If you read my story in the Consumer Section on Friday titled “iPad faces a few new contenders in the world of tablets,” talking about all the upcoming slates (or tablets, I like to use both terms) like those running Android 3.0 Honeycomb, the HP TouchPad and the BlackBerry PlayBook, this is going to be sort of a sidebar to that.
As I was video chatting with my friend who lives in Tokyo this morning over Google Talk, I mentioned that I wrote that tech article for today and he was telling me how he enjoyed using my tablet while he was visiting and was trying to explain to his dad the usefulness of one. This is when I realized most people who haven’t used one, don’t understand it. There’s more to it than just wanting to look and feel cool like a character from Star Trek.
While I can’t answer this question for everyone, I can answer it based on my own experiences since I do own an Android tablet, a Viewsonic GTablet, which runs 2.2 Froyo, and I’ve also spent considerable time using an Apple iPad. If you’re anything like me and you use a computer about 7 or 8 hours a day at work, when you get home at night the only real web browsing you do includes checking your e-mail, Facebook or Twitter, some blogs and YouTube videos while you relax in front of the television. Although you can use a laptop for this, a tablet is the perfect device for some light browsing and gaming. Also, I have a custom built Core i7 Mac desktop for when I want to get some serious gaming and work done.
In my eyes, a tablet takes all the best of the mobile phone world and puts it on a bigger screen, and one great thing about it is it’s lighter than a laptop and easy to hold in your hands. From my experience, surfing the web on a tablet is a much more enjoyable experience and more relaxed feeling than having a heavy laptop resting on your lap. Not to mention, for all the other men reading, if you didn’t know, resting a laptop on your lap has been known to lower sperm count from the heat it generates, making an iPad the safer choice. And physically, who can deny it’s also a much more sleek and stylish looking device.
On the gaming side, there are lots of options to choose from, especially when using an iPad. While you could play some games on a laptop as you relax, I guarantee they won’t be as simplistic if you have to use the keyboard and touchpad or if you choose to connect an external mouse. With a tablet, you can easily fire up the Valentine’s Day edition of Angry Birds and play with your significant other while spending time together this weekend. For those who haven’t heard of it, Angry Birds is a pretty addictive game that requires only the touchscreen controls to fire the birds to knock down the structures, but is also now available on OSX and Windows, too.
I think this shows that for relaxation, a slate wins!
As for the other times you can use a tablet, they really are becoming great productivity devices. People are using them in ways you wouldn’t even imagine, especially in the classroom. A virtual desktop app can be used to wirelessly connect to your home computer, essentially letting you run your desktop OS on the tablet no matter where you are. There are multiple virtual DJ apps available. Tablets are great for reading books with multiple ebook readers, emagazines, and ebooks available for download right from your device, perfect for use in the coffee shop. Documents and presentations can be created on the tablet, so there’s no need to even use MS Office on your desktop for everything. And one last thing is movies since you can put movies on the device that you own or watch one on Netflix while on the go (currently only available on iOS devices).
When I was at the Obama speech in State College a week ago, lots of other journalists were also using them instead of a laptop.
At first it may seem like a tablet is not a useful device when you already own a desktop or laptop at home, but they’re becoming more common everyday. More people are starting to ditch their laptops and making one of these their main mobility device. As more are released, their usefulness will only increase.