I always wondered, when I wrote about tablets and computers, if lacking an iPad was the problem. I have Android tablets, windows tablets. A variety of Kindles. But maybe all these could not show me how tablets could rock my world, make me get rid of all my laptops and desktops. I figured that must be the key — because while I like my tablets, I would never use one for real work.

Well. I got an iPad. And just to round out my tablet experience, I unexpectedly fell into a Kindle Fire HD 8.9, the big dog of Kindles.

And now, with my bona fides in order, it’s time to say it again. Because now, more than ever, the truth is incontrovertible. A tablet can’t replace your laptop or desktop unless the only thing for which you use a computer is email and social media … and even then, it might be a bit tricky.

Getting an iPad

The lightweight laptop I used for simple tasks died. Again. A software super-glitch involving multiple areas of the system. The laptop isn’t old, hasn’t seen heavy use, but has required two reloads and now wants a third. I was unwilling to put more money into a machine which clearly has a problem. Computers should not eat operating systems. I just don’t know what the problem is, but it was a cheap laptop. Time to replace it.

Kindle and iPad

What to do? I needed something on which I can play audiobooks and which will access at least two, preferably three, Audible accounts — something Kindles cannot do. It needed to be light, highly portable, able to do basic Internet stuff, make minor corrections on my blog. Check email. Maybe play some music or a movie once in a while. I found a really good deal on an iPad 3. Between my credits with Amazon and the reduced cost of an older model, it came into my life for under $300, making it my least costly and (I assumed) most elegant computing solution.

I’ve had friends extolling the virtues of the iPad for years. So I figured I’d get this thing. It would leap from its box, embrace me. Configure itself (like the Kindle does), then clean the house, shovel the roof, and cook dinner.

Not exactly. Hours of configuring later (and the addition of Chrome as a browser), it began to behave like it should.

I still prefer the Kindle. It’s faster, requires much less configuring. Except for that pesky problem with Audible access, which you’d think Amazon would solve since they own Audible. But never mind. Many of the same people who had been telling me that an iPad was going to solve my problems (and those of the world) were now emailing me, reminding me it’s “just a tablet, not a computer.” Funny. That’s not what they said before I got one.

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. And because, as it turns out, tablets do what they do, which isn’t everything.

I remember reading articles how tablets would replace laptops and desktops. This was based on a surge in tablet sales and a simultaneous slowdown of computer sales. Apparently no one who wrote those articles considered that people buying tablets didn’t have them. When everyone had one, tablet sales would level off. Many folks had recently invested in desktop and laptop computers and didn’t need another one. And of course, there was Windows 8 which caused a lot of folks to not want to buy a computer, including me.

Today, I am set for tablets. Two Kindles (big and little) and an iPad. My fantastic Alienware laptop does the heavy lifting and I still have a big desktop in my office.

The writers of those articles were, quite simply, lying. None of them wrote their articles on tablets. I don’t know who paid them off, but everyone who’s ever used a tablet knows it cannot replace a full-size computer or laptop. To say otherwise is intentional misrepresentation.

All the friends who told me how great their iPads are failed to mention any of its limitations until I already owned one. Is this the official “dirty little secret” of the iPad fan club? I had to become a member of the club before I could have the rest of the story?

I’ve made peace with my iPad, but it will never be my favorite device or even my favorite tablet. I prefer my Kindles and the big, 8.9″ Kindle is the top dog. Not the most portable among its brethren, but for aging eyes, it’s a life-saver. I can read again!!

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

One size does not fit all. You can’t replace everything with one thing. There’s no reason you should. It’s still a (sort of) free country.

Categories: Computers, Media, Photography, Software, Technology

Tags: , , , , , ,

54 replies

  1. I have a Surface and love it for SOME things, but not all. Still in love with my desktop. 🙂


    • Because your desktop will do everything you need to do, but the tablet will only do some stuff. I am beginning to like my iPad, but I’m so used to this powerful little laptop, that I keep trying to do stuff the iPad won’t do and it’s frustrating. I expect too much from it.

      It is SO cold here. I can feel the bite through my sweater and even through my shearling slippers.


  2. I read your post, but not all the comments, so what I am about to say may be redundant. If so, forgive me. I have an iPad and an iPhone and I am very happy with both. But there’s no way an iPad could ever replace my laptop. The iPad is good for surfing the net, for emails and texting, for reading eBooks, for light writing, for watching movies, and for games. And it’s lightweight and highly portable. But it’s virtually useless for any serious work or even, in my opinion, for writing and editing blog posts. In my job I need Word, Excel and, PowerPoint, Visio and Project. I need a mouse, I need a real, full-sized keyboard. If I could only have one device and had to choose between a tablet and a laptop, it would be a no-brainer. Buh-bye, tablet.


  3. I never thought I would see the day when owning a desktop and a laptop…. and ONLY a desktop and a laptop… would make me seem like a Luddite!


    • If it weren’t for e-books, I would “just” have a desktop and well, two laptops. I got the kindles for reading, but found they other uses for them, mostly listening to music and audiobooks. And the ubiquitous checking of the email. I AM a Luddite (where does that come from ???). I don’t even own a cell phone!


  4. My twin has a tablet (a birthday gift a few years ago), a laptop (needed for school/work), and a desktop. He much prefers to do all of his writing on the desktop — even the laptop is only for when he requires something portable. He NEVER writes on the tablet.

    I have a Kindle (gift from a friend) for reading e-books, but otherwise I use a desktop computer for everything. I need a full-size screen and a real keyboard for writing.


    • I have a fantastic desktop, but while it has a fantastic monitor, it has a pathetic excuse for a graphics card and the design is such that I can’t upgrade it. I miss having all that real estate on which to write and process photographs, but after all that surgery, I couldn’t sit in there alone all day. I adapted to working on my laptop, which has much more RAM and an excellent graphics card AND a hi def monitor, even though it’s a bit smaller than I’d prefer. It’s got a full-size keyboard without which, I can’t type. If I can’t type, I can’t write. I’m addicted to ebooks and audiobooks which I personally believe are MUCH more important than sliced bread — and that’s where the Kindles become important. But writing anything more than a couple of lines in answer to a comment or email is exhausting. I don’t think anyone really writes on a tablet. I’ve never met anyone who does. We all need a keyboard! And I need a mouse, too.


  5. The mini iPad is great for travel. My lap top just stays at home. That’s the long and short of it from here.


  6. So, I’ve owned an iPad2, now, for a couple years, but I also have 3 Apple laptops an I only use one of them. The MacBook Pro is my back up on location recording device.., AND I can do quick edits to deliver reference CDs to my clients using the audio software installed. Many times I’m doing this in a hotel room since some of my work is out of town. I also resent having to rely on an “App Store” to load useful functions into the iPad.

    Since getting into an iPad is a pain (No USB or Firewire input ports etc.), there is, for me, no way an iPad will replace a computer, at least not in its present form.., but it is great for checking email, watching movies or TV series, and storing photos. it only took me 2 years to figure out what to do with the damn thing. It goes with me when I;m having my car, or motorcycle, serviced and helps me pass the time. Of course I could read a magazine, but most of them available, in those places, are particularly uninteresting. So I guess “one device” solutions are just not viable yet.., maybe one day?


    • I’m glad it’s not just me. I thought I was missing the magic. My Alienware laptop is my go-to machine for just about everything. After that, I really like the Kindle interface. Yes, it has limitations — all tablets do — but what it does , it does very well. The iPad is a “generalist” which is probably what’s wrong with it. It does everything, sort of, but it’s not as fast as other tablets (the Android OS which includes the Kindle [a subset of Android] is noticeably faster). What it will do is run applications that I need and which I can’t run on a Kindle. I’m not enchanted with the iPad OS. And for the price, it really ought to do more than it does. I’m glad I didn’t pay big money for it, because I’d be really pissed off!

      It’s like with other things. There’s no one camera, one computer, one anything solution. Nothing does everything well and things that do everything, generally don’t do anything very well.


      • The one interesting thing is that in my world, the world of professional audio, manufacturers of both hardware and software are coming up with ways to employ iPads as control devices. They have developed hardware pieces like mixers where the iPad is installed, in a dock, and becomes the control device for that particular item through the use of an “app.” Also in the music performance world, especially classical, there are apps that you can use to download manuscripts, or music parts, place that on a stand and VIOLA! no need for sheet music. In some cases turning pages is done with a foot switch or bluetooth device. For me this is a plus as I don’t have to worry about rustling paper noises, due to page turns, while recording.

        So it’s a simple philosophy; We’ll invent the “cart” now, and worry about the “horse” later. Ain’t technology a blast..??


  7. After my laptop, my preferences for devices to surf/write online are my phone (just used to it), my Android half-size tablet, and the Android full-size tablet. My ipad is an original model and even when it was the new, big thing wasn’t as easy to use.

    I have just found that if I am going to use a mobile device, iOS is not my friend.


    • I’m finding the same thing. I got a lovely little Dell android tablet free when I got this computer, but I already had the 7″ Kindle Fire and the Paperwhite for serious reading, so I gave it to my DIL whose computer had died. If my ultra lightweight laptop hadn’t afterwards died AGAIN (third time in under three years), I would have said I needed nothing.

      I was looking for an inexpensive solution to replacing that computer. All the cheap laptops run Windows 8 which REALLY doesn’t do it for me. Finally, I found this brand new iPad 3, which with discounts, was the least expensive solution I could find. The iOS is clunky. I’ve got the latest one (it got very strident about downloading and installing itself on the iPad) and compared to the Kindle (all the different sizes), it’s sluggish. It’s okay. But it will never be my favorite anything.


  8. I love my big Kindle HDX, but I’m writing this on a 6 year old “netbook” – it’s a small laptop with a real Pentium chip and real Windows 7 but was sold as an alternative to netbooks. I’m using a 24″ monitor and real keyboard and mouse (I’m at my cabin, not home, reason for netbook). Thinking of netbook, remember right before the tablet boom when all of the pundits said all PCs and laptops were dead and everyone would only need a netbook? Netbooks are dead. The only reason I can still use this is it has real Win 7 and a real Pentium chip and because I can connect it to a real monitor. My guess is the same with tablets. They won’t die the way netbooks did, but the hype will be gone in a year or two.


    • I had a Dell netbook. It worked for a long time, even after I passed it on to my son. It only gave up in the past couple of months … after more than 7 years of chugging along. It was too slow for me and my work, but did a decent job on other stuff … in my opinion, better than most tablets because they have a keyboard which for me is a big issue.

      I think the hype is already going away on tablets. Suddenly NO ONE is saying they will replay computers. The only people who thought they would — really, as opposed to the writers who got paid by manufacturers to write puff pieces — are people who don’t actually do any work on a computer. But I don’t know who that would be because even my teenage granddaughter needs a computer just to get her schoolwork done. She has an iPad from school … but when she actually wants to DO anything, she’s back on the computer.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Recently when I lost most of the electronic gadgets in power surge I realized how badly we need them to exist in this digital world ! I avoid sitting in front of computer for long except when I m blogging. I wish there was another way to interact with you all. Yes ! e-mails but then hoew will I enjoy the work of others?


    • We lost a lot of equipment from a lightning strike one year. Fortunately, not ALL of it and insurance replaced it … it just took time. I could do without all of the tablets if I had too except one for reading. I don’t have a mobile phone at all and don’t miss it. I have a really good laptop and if I had to give up my desktop, I doubt I’d miss it. But we are dependent on WiFi based devices to connect to our extended Internet-based world and we would certain feel bereft if we lost that. That’s the way it goes. Once, people did without electricity, telephones, TV, and radio. Now, we can’t image a world without them. Hell, once we did without the wheel and bows and arrows. Technology rapidly becomes “normal” and life without it, abnormal.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And the debate man vs machine continues.


        • Honestly? I don’t think that debate is still going on. I think the machines have long become an accepted (if unloved and often resented) part of our world. I suspect the machines will outlive us.

          Liked by 1 person

          • But ultimately we are the ones who are behind this change, invented machines, they did not evolved on their own. If Bil Gates and Steve Jobs would have not used their grey cells to create such amazing wonders do you think i world would have been a reality. Now the point is: Is necessity is mother of invention? What is necessary and to which extent ? That day I read a article which gave a list of future inventions. One of them was by 2050 we will be able to type the words just thinking about them ! Hope fyllu we won’t need wifi then. 🙂


            • I believe in a kind of destiny, that there is an inevitable discovery. As all societies independently discovered the bow and arrow, pottery, masonry, metalworking. Developed alphabets and mathematics. I believe that had not there been a Bill Gates and a Steve Jobs, there would have been others. There WERE others because the actual pioneers of computers were NOT Steve and Bill. They were the developers of the personal computer, but the original concept and main frames were developed more than thirty years before by other people in other countries.

              Liked by 1 person

  10. I love my iPad, but it is not a computer … Think of it as a bag of trail mix; convenient, handy, portable, fills a need, but is not a meal!


  11. I can hear your frustration. I have a love/hate relationship with my computer that is still ill. Finding someone to fix it is proving difficult. The photographic section is stuffed! I do use an iPad on my knee in the evenings to answer some posts. Life has become too complex!


  12. I don’t own a tablet or an eReader as yet although I’ve been wondering if I should buy one or the other. I can’t really justify buying both. As I spend a lot of time sitting on buses or waiting for buses when I go to Hobart I usually like to have reading material. I’d also thought that having a way to jot down notes for a blog post while I’m out would be good. I’ve been a bit doubtful about whether a tablet would be any good for that though. I tried carrying a notepad and pen but somehow as soon as I want to write something the pen seems to dry up. Maybe I should just buy a better pen.


    • Actually, that is exactly what tablets are good for. Any small android tablet, small iPad, or one of the Kindle Fire HD group would do the job. The best, lest expensive solution are probably the small kindles, but there are a lot of very good android tablets available at modest prices. Don’t get a windows-based one, I don’t think you would like it. And for the money, in the small tablet arena, the iPad is overpriced … hugely overpriced. But yes, that IS what small tablets do best. If you were just interested in reading, I’d suggest a Paperwhite, but that is a dedicated reader and won’t do anything else. The Kindle Fire tablets all do many things and the prices are super.


      • Thanks Marilyn. I was hoping you’d be able to set me in the right direction. Budget is very much an issue so I need to be sure I’ve bought the gadget that will do what I need it to do because I’ll only get one shot at it this year.


        • I got Garry a 6″ Kindle Fire HD for $100. Right now, they are down to $85. That’s brand new. And they come already set up for you, assuming you have an Amazon account. Garry really likes his. It’s big enough to read books, loud enough to listen to music or an audiobook … or even a movie. If you have Amazon Prime, you got a lot of stuff free — movies, music, etc. Games too. Free or very cheap. I have a 7″ Kindle Fire (they weren’t making the 6″ ones yet or I’d have gotten that and a Paperwhite, but I shouldn’t have gotten the paperwhite. It’s a fine reader, but I don’t need both. I can read perfectly find on the Kindle Fire. You can also get an Android tablet in the same size from Dell (don’t get a Windows tablet) for under $200 if you don’t like Amazon’s universe. That’s the think with the Kindle. You are pretty much tied to Amazon’s world, but I’m okay with that.


          • I’ll do a bit of checking into prices here. They won’t be as cheap as in the US and shipping from there is ridiculously expensive but you’ve given me some good ideas about what to look at. I’d alway rather hear from someone who has used the device than believe their blurbs.


            • And refurbished stuff can be very worthwhile. I have a LOT of electronic refurbished gear … computers, cameras, and my big Kindle. Sometimes it let you get a much better whatever than you could otherwise afford. And they all come with warranties, like new. Most of them are not broken … they are just returns from people who changed their minds.


  13. An iPad is never a replacement for computer. for me a welcome “sit in the armchair and see what is going on solution”. I have my Kindle app on the iPad and never actually use my old fashioned first edition Kindle which might even be valuable one day as a first ever. I will buy a new Kindle Voyager one day in the future, but am still waiting. My iPad is not for outside access so it stays at home. I have an iPad air version, one of the newer ones. Mr. Swiss still has an old iPad without the air. I sometimes use it to read a book he uploaded, but notice the difference in the weight. He also has a an air version, but the mini iPad.


    • I find myself reading on the Kindle Fires these days. I also have a Paperwhite, which is one of the best ever readers, but the little fire tablets are as portable and do more stuff. The iPad is doing its job … playing audiobooks and letting me look at what’s going on around the Internet. It’s got a nice, big screen and a long battery life (the great battery life is probably the biggest advantage I’ve found). I can use it for days between charges. The Kindles don’t have nearly as good a battery life.


  14. I heartily agree with you on every point you made in this post. Tablets are not computers in the serious definition of a computer. It has no large storage device or loads of powerful application software such as Photoshop or Microsoft Office. It’s more than a calculator or those nifty little extended devices that gave you little utilities like a notepad, calendar and 3×5 index card file for your contacts. A tablet can carry all your photos, music, books and magazines. It can easily search and surf the web for important stuff like a business’s office hours, phone number & directions. Depending on the size of the tablet it can be highly portable. My Nexus 7, wit its high resolution screen fits easily in the back pocket of my jeans. I wear 44″ x 30″ jeans just to explain that my pockets are bigger than most. It’s indispensable for showing my pictures to others when I’m traveling. It easily fits in my camera bags that now come with zippered pockets designed for the iPad 10″ tablet. My tiny 7″ variety slps right in with room to spare. The sound quality with a volume boost app is adequate for serious music lovers and text on my Kindle app is sharp, adjustable in size and easily read. Being a color device the pictures are brilliant. My tablet was never supposed to replace my beautiful 21.5″ iMac but it’s portable and does a great job at what it does do. I carry it everywhere and plug it into a usb port to charge when it’s at home. I’ve never run out of power when on the road for a day.


    • I clearly over-estimated what I was going to be able to do … and I’ve gotten very spoiled by having a lot of power in my little gaming laptop. I also am not as thrilled by the iPad OS as I would like to be. But it IS doing what I bought it to do. And as long as it keeps doing it, I’m happy enough. My 7″ Kindle is the portable kid in town and fits in my purse. Of course with a small camera AND a compact camera and everything else, my bag weighs like a medium size bowling ball …


      • LOL I know what you mean. I own many camera bags and keep going between the smallest to the 3rd largest that can carry everything. As in your case every time I decide to carry everything I use only two lenses and two camera bodies. The other 3 lenses become dead weight.


        • I keep looking for a one camera solution, but there is no such thing. And since I favor prime lenses (higher quality at lower prices), I always face impossible choices when I am traveling. I wind up taking everything because no two cameras do exactly the same job. The Panasonic SZ 200 is the closest I’ve got to “one size fits all” except that it’s a moose of a camera. It does everything well, but it’s the size of a DSLR … same weight, too. Not something you can tuck in a bag and grab as needed.


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