Portable! Powerful! Just like your laptop, but better!
The ads scream to you. The newest thing in computing is tablet computers, known simply as tablets. And what’s not to like? Ultra-thin, lightweight, wireless devices you can take with you anywhere. And you can do anything you’d do on your computer at home. Right? Well…
Surfing the web, reading email, playing games, watching a movie; they all are possible on a tablet. But they are not quite a PC replacement. Close, but not quite yet. Let’s look at the pros and cons of a tablet:
Navigation is different without a mouse. It’s actually easier at times. Pinching to zoom in on photos and swiping through pages is incredibly natural.
There is no waiting time to boot up. Tablets go into a sleep mode, so when you press the power button, they’re right there waiting for you. Battery life can be up to 10 hours on a tablet. Some will even charge up from a computer’s USB port.
Applications are available from numerous online stores. It’s not complicated to download or install new apps. Simply tap what you want and it does the rest for you.
They are so much easier to take with you, rather than lugging a 6 pound laptop and shoulder bag.
No, they’re not quite your PC…yet. They don’t have a physical keyboard, so they’re not as conducive to typing long letters (or this column) unless you buy a special docking station and attach an external keyboard. The virtual keyboard may be disconcerting for some and not as accurate as a real keyboard. Tablets are best for consuming media, not creating content.
It can be frustrating trying to get your information on and off a tablet. Some don’t have ports for a memory card or USB slots. On those you will have to upload to a cloud server then back to your PC. And no optical drive (CD-ROM or DVD) is a drawback that some users won’t be able to live with.
Lastly, the screen may be too small for some people. Personally, I’m very happy with my 24” widescreen at home and my 17” notebook. Not sure I could handle a small screen.
The bottom line: Tablets are wonderfully appealing devices. If they fit your lifestyle and requirements they can be a wonderful addition to your computing tools. I tried one at a local store the other day and it was very hard to put down. They have the best of smartphones and computers all in one, but will not replace either of them soon. Be aware of what they can or cannot do before you commit the money to one.