Why tablets can’t replace computers. And why they shouldn’t.

I keep reading articles telling me that tablets will replace laptops and desktops. Every time I read one of these articles, I want to reach through my 24-inch super high-definition monitor, grab the author by the throat and shake him or her until his/her eyes roll back in his/her head.

I don’t have anything against portable devices. I have a smart phone. I have a tablet. I have a netbook. I have a medium-size (but very powerful) laptop and a big desktop with a super monitor. Each of these devices has its own place in my world.

The difference between me and the people who write articles suggesting small portable devices — Smartphones, iPads, android tablets, or Chromebooks — are going to replace desktops and laptops is twofold. The reviewers don’t seem to do any real work and they think whatever is their favorite device should be what all of us use for everything.

Not only do they not do any work, they apparently don’t even have hobbies.

My life includes work.

Have any of these the people extolling mini devices as the total computer experience ever designed a book? Made a movie? Edited RAW? Converted a book to a PDF? Or for that matter, have they tried playing Castleville on a tablet? It’s close to impossible. If it doesn’t crash or refuse to run, you still can’t do it because the screen is too small.

Do you take pictures? If you are a snapshooter and your idea of serious photography are  pictures in which you can’t see who is who because they too dark and blurry, a tablet or smartphone may do the job. But even if you do nothing with your photos … not even cropping … I can’t figure out how you can even download pictures without a computer. How can you decide which ones you like? Even if I accept blurry, poorly framed snapshots as photographs … how can you see anything at all on a little tiny screen?

Virtual keyboards are good for virtual typing …

I just read an article explaining how you can type perfectly fine on the iPad’s virtual keypad. Having tried it on other peoples’ iPads, not to mention my own android-based table, no, you can’t. With two fingers, sort of …  but not if you are a touch typist and believe it or not, some of us are.

There are so many issues involved that I can’t even begin to list them all, so I’ll start with the most obvious ones.

You need memory and a hard drive to run embedded applications.

You can’t run Photoshop on a tablet. Any tablet. Or a Chromebook. Or even a Netbook. Or Smartphone. It’s not that it won’t run well; it won’t run at all. It has to be installed and without a hard drive, you can’t install it. Without memory, you can’t run it. If you use a real camera … something beyond a very basic point and shoot or, oh Lord spare me, a telephone … you can’t even download photographs, much less edit them. If you shoot RAW, you might not be able to fit as much as a single photograph on your device.

You can’t edit a 16 X 20 photograph on a 10 inch tablet, much less a telephone.

This is not a matter of opinion. It’s a hard and fast truth. Can’t do it. Can’t see enough of the pictures to know what you are doing. It does not matter whether we are talking about a Chromebook, an android tablet or an iPad. The operating system is irrelevant. The device is physically too small to do the job. Assuming it had a hard drive and sufficient memory (none of them do), you still could not do it. Physical limitations would prevent it. But, if you don’t care what your pictures look like and think anything showing, however fuzzy,  a member of your household is so adorable that blurriness, bad color and creepy backgrounds don’t matter, everything I say here will mean nothing to you. Enjoy your pictures. I beg of you, do not show them to me or worse yet, request my opinion.

Typing with 10 fingers requires a keyboard.

Virtual keyboards are perfect for tapping out a couple of lines in an email. After that, if you know how to type, you will become increasingly frustrated until you are ready to toss your high-priced device through the nearest window. “But wait!” you cry. “I’m in college and need to write papers. I’m a master’s student and I have to turn in a thesis. With footnotes and all that jazz.”

Sorry,  bud. You’ve got a big problem. You can’t do that on your tablet or telephone. I guess you’re just going to have to give up on higher education because you don’t have a computer. No? But didn’t you tell me that you don’t need a real computer, that they are obsolete?

Who needs footnotes? Engineering drawings? Spreadsheets? We don’t need no stinkin’ spreadsheets!

If you’re a budding young filmmaker, good luck trying to edit video on your tablet. Let me know how that works for you.

And about that thesis: footnotes and bibliographies, much less cross references? Really, no problem. Just explain to your advisor that you can’t include references and attributions because your tablet doesn’t support those functions. Surely they will understand. After all, computers are obsolete. Who needs attribution anyhow?

If you’re an architect or engineer? Return to your drawing table and start doing them by hand. I hope you still have those old-fashioned tools and remember how to use them, because you aren’t going to be doing them on your tablet. Need a spreadsheet? Not going to happen. Even if all you are trying to do is track your own household budget, you can’t do it on your tablet or telephone.

It’s a big world with room for many operating systems and devices … you don’t need to dump one to have the other.

My point is simple enough. There is room in our world for many kinds of devices, many types of operating systems. Many of us like having various devices dedicated to particular tasks. I love reading books on my Kindle. I edit on my desktop with the big HD monitor. I use my laptop to play games, write, and work when I don’t what to be stuck in my office.

You love your iPad? Enjoy. Recognize that it is great for what it is. It has limitations, but if you remove the limitations, you also eliminate its advantages. If you make it big enough to edit film or photos, add a hard drive and a keyboard, it stops being small, and portable. By the time you finish adding all that functionality, it’s a laptop. We have them already. Add a bigger monitor? You’ve got a desktop.

You can’t replace everything with one thing  and there’s no reason on earth you should. There appears to be a widespread assumption by manufacturers and marketers that we all do the same stuff and therefore one size fits all, technologically speaking.

It’s not true. What is wrong with supporting more than one operating system? Is Microsoft unable to deal with two operating systems? It had both NT and Windows for decades … you mean now it’s whatever Microsoft wants to sell or nothing? Why?

Why can’t we have both Windows 7 and Windows 8? And Linux? And Macs? Androids and iPads? Smartphones and iPods, iPhones and Blackberries? Why can’t we own a variety of computing devices that run on various operating systems? Who says one device needs to do everything? Is this etched in stone somewhere? Or is it just some marketing guy’s idea and we do whatever we are told like mindless sheep.

For years I owned Macs and PCs until it became too expensive. Then I had to decide what would serve me best … and for a variety of reasons, the answer was PC. It wasn’t a decision made without considerable thought or because I have something against Macs. I just prefer the working environment of a PC for my task-driven world. If I did different kinds of work and the other people with whom I worked used Macs rather than PCs, my decision might well have gone the other way. I am not one of those people who have a cult-like attachment to one operating system versus the other. There are pros and cons for each and we all should make decisions based on what’s important to us. The nearly religious devotion a lot of Mac users have for their computers is scary. It isn’t a religion. It’s a computer.

One size does not fit all, not in technology and not in clothing.

English: A woman cuddling a pile of digital de...

One size fits all in clothing usually means that it will be too big for 40% of the population, too small for another 40%, and it will look crappy on the remaining 20%.

Technologically, one device, one type of device, one operating system will never do the many jobs computers perform for us. We are not alike and thank God for that. Do we want to be all the same? Do we want to enforce a total lack of diversity? Is our goal to eliminate choice? If not, then it’s time to rethink the concept that whatever works for you will automatically work for me or the guy down the street. Enjoy your choices, but recognize that choice is what it is. That you are devoted to your Mac means that your Mac works for you. If you find that your iPad or other tablet is more than sufficient for your computing needs?  Fine. If you feel that doing everything on your telephone suits your lifestyle, you are probably a teenager and you’ll grow out of it.

It’s okay to be different than your neighbor. You do not have to like the same things, do the same things, or need the same things. It’s diversity and our differences that make the world an interesting place. We don’t have to go to the same church, read the same books, believe the same stuff. We don’t have to live in the same environment or own the same appliances. Nor do we need to enjoy the same restaurants or cook the same food. We don’t need to celebrate the same holidays or be the same color.

If everybody would stop trying to force their beliefs and opinions on everyone else, this world would be a better place. Whether it’s the computer operating system you prefer or the political party you vote for, that is your right and privilege and it’s about time everyone stops trying to make other people adhere to their beliefs. It will never happen and all that you will accomplish by trying to coerce others is that they will resent you. The harder you push, the more resistance you will encounter.

Live your life as you prefer. Let others do the same.

Just one of those days …

I know I’m not the most graceful of women. I have some coördination issues that made me less than a sterling athlete, but I’m not a total klutz. Not usually, but … today was just one of those days.

It started out normally enough. One of my coffee mugs has gone missing, but I’m pretty sure it’s rolling around somewhere on the floor under my desk. It’s cluttered and unlit down there, but I’m going to have to brave the dark and try to find my cup. It’s one of my Copco lidded mugs. I depend on them to prevent simple clumsiness from turning into a catastrophe.

My missing mug. If you spot it, please let me know.

For the past few days, I’ve been having problems with my keyboard. It’s hard to be certain where the blame lies, but I’m pretty sure it’s me. I have an incorrigibly bad habit: I eat at the computer. I know I shouldn’t because I have dropped all kinds of things on my keyboards and it inevitably results in the death of the keyboard. I suspect the primary culprit was strawberry jam, but the salsa and mayonnaise didn’t help either. I thought I’d cleaned it up, but my space bar was sticking and wreaking havoc on my writing.

I pried the top off the space bar to see if I could clean the crumbs and crud from underneath it. There were a lot of crumbs in there, but nothing sticky, surely not enough to make the space bar stick like that, but it was definitely going down, but not coming back up. I think I broke its spring while I was prying it up. Or maybe it was already broken. It’s possible the box cutter wasn’t the optimum choice for prying it up but in my defense, I didn’t have anything else with a thin blade. The space bar was uncooperative and I broke the tip off the box cutter’s blade. Or maybe I broke the tip yesterday while I was prying the battery out of my telephone. That box cutter is really useful.

Anyway, I eventually decided my keyboard was done for. It’s less than three months old and I wish I could blame someone else, but I keep remembering strawberry jam, salsa, and mayonnaise and can’t help but think these may have played a part in the keyboard’s untimely demise.

I unearthed my old keyboard, the one I was using before. It isn’t exactly broken but it has a few sticky keys of its own.  I was still going to have to get a new keyboard. One key is worn blank. I think it’s the “C” but it doesn’t matter; I need a keyboard. Meanwhile, the old one would have to do because it’s all I’ve got.

I detached the useless keyboard, regretting my careless treatment of it. I extracted the box in which I was storing the original keyboard and mouse that came with my computer. I took the batteries out of the mouse I’ve been using because I don’t like it anyhow and was going to replace it. They were pretty fresh, so I put them in the keyboard, which is wireless and requires a couple of AAs. I put the keyboard where it belongs on the tray, set the mouse, freshly re-batteried on the mousepad. I dumped the now useless keyboard on the floor …  I’ll have to throw it into the bin, but I’m not emotionally ready yet. There’s no point in saving it. I put the mouse I don’t like, but which isn’t broken, in my extra laptop case. I’ve never used it for a computer, but it’s a convenient place to store miscellaneous accessories: spare mice, portable speakers, worn but usable mouse pads, a trackball that no one likes but is brand new.

My monitor IS my computer … and they couldn’t have put the ports in any less accessible a location Why?

I had to plug the transmitter for the keyboard and mouse into the USB port. For some reason, computer designers persist in putting ports and plugs in the least convenient locations. Thus, the fast USB ports are on the back of the monitor. My desktop computer is an all-in-one, so the monitor is the computer, 24 inches of bright, high-definition glass and components. To plug something into one of the high-speed ports, you have to tilt the whole thing all the way forward so that it’s almost lying face down on the desk.

That’s when I knocked over the coffee cup. There wasn’t much coffee in it, and like all my cups, it’s lidded so I managed to move the keyboard before coffee got into the keyboard, but the sealed base got pretty wet. So did a lot of my desk.

I went across the hall to get a roll of paper towels, knocked everything off the sink,then left it on the floor because I can only deal with one emergency at a time.

I wiped up the coffee and decided it was a good time to take the cup back to the kitchen before I knocked it over again.

Back to the bathroom, where I cleaned up the stuff that on the floor. I decided to leave the paper towels in my office because it seemed a roll of paper towels, given the way the day was going, might be good to have at hand.

By then, it was past lunchtime, so I went into the kitchen where, while trying to heat up some soup, I knocked the whole thing over. You wouldn’t think such a small bowl could make such a big mess, but liquid really spreads out and it gets under everything.

That was when I officially declared that I was a danger to myself and others, decided that I should avoid anything involving sharp objects, moving vehicles, or open flames. When Garry got back from picking up our granddaughter, I told him he was going to make a Mickey D run tonight because I was not safe to drive or cook.

He said he’d noticed that the bathroom had undergone some alterations and I mumbled “Yeah, a bit” and he observed mildly that I had kept the paper towels. I said, with only a hint of bitterness, that I felt I should keep them nearby because I was sure to need them.

I ordered a new keyboard. I hope I can control myself and not drop food in it. Replacing keyboards is getting expensive.

Perhaps my coördination will have returned by tomorrow. I hope so because  I was planning to go shopping and I need to drive. Large Print USB Computer Keyboard: Marilyn’s Review

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News


I don’t usually recommend products. but this one has really improved the quality of my life. I can actually read my keyboard, even in dim light. It’s comfortable to type on. The keys are full size and springy, which took a bit of getting used to, but it’s a huge improvement over the standard Dell keyboard I got with the computer. Worth it and more  … and not all that expensive, either!

A note about tablets: I will never buy a tablet because I hate moving stuff with my fingertips, I prefer a mouse, and I’m a touch typist. There is NO way I can imagine trying to input a long piece of writing on one of the virtual fake touchscreen keyboards … and if I’m going to buy a separate keyboard, uh, hello? Why don’t I just get a laptop? Oh, right. That’s exactly what I did. Hm. Imagine that.

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