WHY TABLETS CAN’T REPLACE COMPUTERS. WHY THEY SHOULDN’T.

I originally wrote a version of this in November 2012. At that time, agreement among “experts” was nearly universal: tablets would replace desktop and laptop computers. Within a couple of years — in other words, now — everyone would be using a tablet for everything. I disagreed then. I was right. (Don’t you love when that happens?)

Tablet sales have slowed, not because tablets aren’t fun or don’t have a place in our lives, but because everyone has one, or two, or three of them. And because, as it turns out, tablets do what they do, which isn’t everything.

I remember reading all those articles announcing how tablets will replace laptops and desktops. This, based on the surge in tablet sales and the slowing of computer sales. Every time I read one of those articles, I wanted to reach through my monitor, grab the author by the throat and shake him or her.

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I don’t have anything against portable devices. I have quite a few of them, but there are a couple of differences between me and those authors:

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

2) They think their favorite device is perfect and can do everything.

Have any of the people extolling mini devices as the total computer solution designed a book? Made a movie? Used Photoshop? Converted a document to PDF? Tried playing games on a tablet? It’s nearly impossible. All other issues aside, the screens are too small.

Virtual keyboards are good for virtual fingers …

I just read an article explaining how you can type perfectly fine on the iPad’s virtual keypad. Having tried typing on a variety of tablets, that’s an outright lie. Not true. You can’t type on a virtual keyboard because (trumpets) there are no keys.

You need memory and a hard drive to run applications.

You can’t run photo or video editing software on a tablet. Or a Chromebook. Or a Smartphone. It’s not that it won’t run well. It won’t run at all. It has to be installed. It uses a lot of memory. Without a hard drive, you can’t install it. Even online versions of these applications won’t run on small devices. If you use a real camera — anything more than a basic point and shoot, or a telephone — you can’t even download your photos, much less edit them. If you shoot RAW, you might not be able to load a single photograph on your device.

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You can’t edit a 16 X 20 photograph on a 10 inch tablet. Much less a cell phone.

This is not a matter of opinion. It’s a fact. 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 Kindle, an android tablet, or an iPad. Operating system is irrelevant. The device is physically too small to do the job. Even if it had a hard drive and enough memory (none of them do), you still couldn’t do it.

Who needs footnotes? Engineering drawings? Spreadsheets? I do, that’s who.

And good luck editing video on a tablet. Let me know how that works for you.

About that thesis: footnotes and bibliographies, and cross references? Explain to your adviser how you can’t include references and attributions because your tablet can’t do it. Surely they will understand. After all, computers are obsolete. And 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 won’t 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.

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

There’s room in our lives for many different devices. And operating systems.

I prefer stuff that’s dedicated to specific tasks or sets of tasks. I love reading books on my Kindle. I edit on my desktop with the big HD monitor. I use my laptop when I don’t what to be stuck in my office, which these days seem to all the time.

You love your iPad? Enjoy it, but respect its limits — because they’re also its advantages. If you make it big and powerful enough to handle the tasks it currently can’t manage — larger screen, real hard drive, RAM, keyboard — it’s not a fun, portable device any more. If you need that much functionality, you need a laptop or desktop.

You can’t replace everything with one thing. There’s no reason you should.

One size does not fit all.

It’s okay to be different. Whether it’s your political opinion or which computer or device or system you prefer, diversity and differences make our world interesting. Live your life as you prefer. Let others do the same.



Categories: Computers, Media, Photography, Software, Technology

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. Tablets are fun but I agree that photo editing is very limited to apps with it’s filters. There is very little leeway with editing within the filters. Then when you put the photos onto a large screen you see that it is not ideal. I use my tablet for reading the newspaper and reading e-books. 😀

    Like

    • My tablets are great for e-books, sometimes short audiobooks, music, even email — in a limited way. I take a look at my site, mostly to see how it looks on the smaller screen (it never looks as good as I wish it would). But I don’t bother to load pictures on it. They would crash it faster than a speeding bullet. The idea of editing anything — text or graphics — on one of my little tablets is ludicrous. It was obvious to me from day one that the predictions of how tablets would replace computers were ridiculous. But nobody was listening at the time. OF COURSE they were selling well. They were THE new toy. But now, everyone has one or more and the price is way down … and obviously they haven’t replaced computers and won’t in the future. It’s easy to be right when the experts are so very wrong 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Considering the fact that even a smartphone short circuits the moment I touch it… I’m glad real computers will still be around for many many years! Or at least until flying machines make automobiles obsolete, like all the experts thought they would…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t even imagine coding in Visual Studio on a tablet. I have 2 x 22″ monitors at work and even that’s not always enough. I need the code, the database and a browser all open and visible at the same time, at a minimum.

    Like

    • Even now that I don’t edit code, when I’m working on a book, I need to see facing pages with illustrations and one large monitor isn’t enough … even two is barely sufficient. The people who write those reviews get their marching order from the advertising manager and he gets HIS marching orders from the owners. Whoever is spending the most advertising dollars has the best technology. This reminds me … again … exactly how dumb Windows’ game plan is. They created a tablet-friendly (actually it sucks on a tablet too) OS … just in time to wave bye bye to the passing of the tablet “who needs a mouse” craze as more and more people discovered a finger isn’t what you need when you are dealing with precise stuff on screen. How can you edit text with a finger????? And code? Really? Makes me crazy. And of course, this being the age of “I read it on the Internet so it must be true,” there are all these techno-stooges out there preaching the gospel of St. Apple or St. Microsoft. Beat them with sticks, I say! Defenestrate them all!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I had to talk myself into buying my first tablet, the original iPad. My logical side exposed its weaknesses, no application software, no input/output ports, tiny screen and keyboard. Still I bought the 10″ iPad for what it is, a good way to carry eBooks, music and most of all my photos.

    Since then I’ve stepped up my game with a Google Nexus 7 2013 model with higher resolution, faster processing and more storage. It’s still not a computer. I really can’t justify a laptop because I’m hooked on Apple products and no long could stand the idea of using Windows, YUK! So, I have my iMac and my Nexus 7 and am quite happy with the pair.

    Like

    • I have a couple of Kindles for reading (a Fire HD and a Paperwhite). I had an android one, but it was a gift and I really wasn’t going to use it, so I gave it to my son who gave it to his daughter who gave it to her mother because everyone had all the tablets they needed. They are useful for carrying on short trips if all you need to do is check your email and maybe read a book, but for anything more, you need a computer.

      Like

  5. Tablets are portable and easy to use,
    but the comforting of using a computer is never comparable with the Tablets.

    Like

  6. I totally agree. I like my iPad and my iPhone. They’re fun and there’s a lot that you can do with them. But not real work. Not mission critical kind of stuff. Tablets are nice to have, but a good laptop, a real keyboard, a mouse, a large hard drive, USB drives, and a large external monitor are necessities if you really need to get things done.

    Like

    • Yup, totally agree. It’s what pissed me off so much at all those “experts.” From they way they wrote, they apparently never did any work. Yet I would bet every one of those writers was working on a laptop or a desktop — because nobody wants to write a long piece without a keyboard. It was such a pack lies, such blatant advertising for Apple. I used to trust tech reviewers, but these days, they are shills for either Microsoft or Apple, depending on who is offering the bigger bucks.

      Like

      • I got a Logitech combination keyboard and cover for my iPad, which makes typing on it much better than using the virtual keypad, but I still can’t do any serious work on it.

        Like

        • I know. Those not-full-size keyboards don’t really do it for me, either. Better than nothing, but not good enough for real work. I tried one for my android tablet(s). Nope. I need a real keyboard. And a mouse. And at least a 14″ screen and even that is a bit cramped. My 28″ high def monitor is so much more accommodating 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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