Tablet Computers: Fad or Future?

By . Filed in Web 2.0

Before 2010, we are not really clear about the concept of the computer tablet. Every computer manufacturer and software company in the world have their own definition of the ‘tablet’ which lead to the many different types of tablets engineered and produced by these companies. But none of them really sums up the general concept of the tablet, until the release of Apple’s iPad.

tablets
(Image Source: Wired)

The iPad was so successful that most IT companies were driven to create products that are similar to it in order to openly compete in the tablet market, finally solidifying the concept that embodies the ‘tablet’. Now, the tablet essentially allows a user to access information instantly, interact and share data from almost anywhere, onto the Web.

Initially, many people thought it was useless; the surprising success of the iPad made them question their logic. What is the reason behind the iPad’s success? What was the impetus behind the rise of the tablets? Do we actually need them? We’ll explore these questions with you in this particular post.

The Booming Tablet Industry

There seem to be aggressive competition among the tablet-makers since Apple’s release of the iPad in 2010. In the same year, we saw the advent of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. Both Apple and Samsung have since then released the successors – the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1.

kindle fire
(Image Source: PCWorld)

This was in the midst of the entry of the Motorola Xoom, Blackberry Playbook, Toshiba tablet and Kindle Fire. The entire IT industry seems to be shifting its main focus from developing PCs to the tablet.

Bringing Entertainment With You

It seems to me that tablets have become a new category itself, just as how we distinguish smartphones from laptops and desktops. If you want to position tablets into this group, it probably falls between smartphones and laptops. With the portability of a smartphone but the functionality of a laptop, tablets seem to serve users with top-notch on-the-go entertainment. The tablet screen is large enough to enjoy a movie on, yet the tablets are light enough for you to carry around.

entertainment
(Image Source: Amazon)

So, why the sudden craze? As more and more things become available 24/7, our lifestyles are also evolving along with it. We want entertainment here and now. What’s more, with our increasingly hectic and erratic working hours, it’s no wonder that we will try to squeeze the most out of the remaining time we have left while we’re travelling or waiting for something. There’s always time for a quick game or show to perk us up!

Changing the Way You Work

Entertainment aside, one benefit of the tablet is the option for a good sketching, either with a good stylus pen or just with your fingers. In other words, it can afford the user more artistic freedom than the standard laptops can. Smartphones are pretty limiting due to its screen size, which fundamentally rules out the possibility of drafting and other similar activities. Tablets are also great tools to jot down any ad hoc detail or idea, and they allow the user to share almost anything instantly without reproducing the text, photo or picture, making it a very convenient tool for designers.

sketching
(Image Source: Liyin the Designer-in-Pajamas)

In terms of organizational capabilities, tablets make it easier for you to manage your life: your finances, schedules, reviews, etc. Again, smartphones are absolutely restricting in that sense due to its screen size, although they are great in providing useful reminders for your daily chores.

Tablets Versus the Rest

Of course, tablets are not going to replace all other forms of computing devices. There’re still things I’d rather do with a PC or with my smartphone. Most of the time, it depends on the nature of the task you are working on. If you’re working on a report, you’ll probably prefer a mouse and a keyboard rather than a touchscreen tablet. Also, nothing beats the ease and portability of a smartphone, this time thanks to its screen size.

gadgets
(Image Source: cvilly)

On the other hand, it is a fine balance of user-friendliness and personal preference which determines which tool is best for the job. It’s the same reason why people would rather read a printed book instead of an e-book; it just feels natural to flip the physical pages. Tablets will definitely outshine the rest with its free sketch function, but it doesn’t feel as comfortable taking photos with them instead of with your hand-sized smartphones.

Using the Right Tool for the Right Task

There’s a right tool for every task, and tablets are definitely something great to fiddle around with while on the move. Yet, this technology lives and dies according to public demand, which in turn, is determined by lifestyle trends. You can even say the rush for tablets may just be a passing fad.

My stand? They are here to stay, simply because our culture is moving towards expecting information any time we want it. Smartphones did fulfil that purpose by allowing us to connect and access information everywhere we go, but they lack interactivity. We want to do more than just accessing it now; we want it to interact with us. The solution: tablets.

Our need to organize and compute data propagated the feasibility of the computers. When convenient telecommunication became necessary for everyday activities, mobile phones (and eventually, smartphones) flourished. Now, the tablets are made popular by demand for more interactivity and portability to cater to a generation of on-the-move users. Who knows what new technology would emerge as our lifestyle continues changing with the times?

Author:

Michael is a freelance blogger and regular contributor for Hongkiat.com. He graduated from the National University of Singapore with a double major in Psychology and Communications & New Media in 2011.He believes in the power of the written word to influence and inspire. An enthusiastic video gamer, Michael is also actively engaged in various physical activities in his spare time.

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