HOW TABLETS DIDN’T REPLACE LAPTOPS. AND WON’T.

Last year, I wrote an update to my original commentary (from November 2012 – WHY TABLETS CAN’T REPLACE COMPUTERS AND WHY THEY SHOULDN’T) about how tablets were NOT going to replace laptops which absolutely everyone agreed was inevitable and I thought was utter rubbish. Today, in TechRadar, one of the original places that predicted the demise of laptops, the very same experts who predicted the demise of laptops and desktops completely reversed their position. Minus the fanfare with which the predicted the demise of computers, I might add.


15 best laptops you can buy in 2016

By Kevin Lee

The best laptops for your every need (NOTE: Not MY every need!)

“With the advent of the iPad just over six years ago, analysts were expecting laptops to be ousted by tablets at this point. Fortunately, for PC makers, that never happened. In fact, with the recent début of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update alongside new AMD and Nvidia graphics cards and Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors, the best laptops on the market continue to thrive.

Between thin, light and stylish budget notebooks like the HP Chromebook 13 and thick, robust powerhouse computers like the MSI GT62VR Dominator Pro, laptops are on their way up rather than out. Even Apple’s MacBook sees persistent success year after year despite all the changes MacOS has undergone since 1984.”

Isn’t that what I said?  See my post: “WHY TABLETS DIDN’T REPLACE COMPUTERS.” November 20, 2015


It continues to list each computer in their “top 15 pick.” As it happens, in the course of searching for the computer that would best suite me, I looked at every one of these and dismissed them all.

“BEST” IS A RELATIVE TERM

Best is relative and subjective. “Best”for whom and under what circumstances? Not best for me. None of these machines contain enough graphics support or RAM to run Photoshop. So maybe these are the “best” for the magazine’s editors? Or for “the average computer user” who is …? Are you an average user? If so, what does that mean? What do “average” users use?

Articles like this and previous articles on the anticipated disappearance of computers mislead people. If you accept this stuff as “expert opinion” and don’t do your own research, you will end up with the wrong machine. Quite possibly a very expensive, yet terribly wrong machine.

alienware side view computer

Here’s my rewritten article from last year. I was right. Not because I’m a genius, but because I don’t accept opinion as truth.  “Experts” don’t know a lot more than you do, but they are paid to make you think they have some kind of pipeline to ultimate truth. Their opinions are nothing more than personal opinion heavily influenced by big computer company sponsors. Sales pitches disguised as expert advice. Be very wary of taking this kind of thing at face value.

Know what you need. What you do. And what you require to make it work for you.


WHY TABLETS CAN’T REPLACE COMPUTERS. WHY THEY SHOULDN’T. (December 2014)

I originally wrote a longer version of this in November 2012 and the link for it as been included. At that time, agreement among “experts” was nearly universal. Tablets would replace desktop and laptop computers. Within a couple of years — in other words, by 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.

kindle-fire1-border

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.

 

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.

alienware computer front full

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 religion or political opinion — or which computer system you prefer, diversity and differences make the world interesting. Live your life as you prefer. Let others do the same.

42 thoughts on “HOW TABLETS DIDN’T REPLACE LAPTOPS. AND WON’T.

  1. Well, like you said, laptop verses tablets is a matter of opinion.

    Not long ago everything you said about tablet limitations was true. But not anymore. But maybe that’s because I’m a writer, not an engineer or a businessman, or a physician. My oldest daughter introduced me to an iPad. I found because it had to be supported by a real computer it was a bit better that worthless. However, those who manufacture and program tablets have not been standing around with their hands in their pockets.

    With cloud backup and these snappy little word processors that are free (compared to MS Word :-(.Everything I do on a laptop is possible on my ipad and my Nexus 7.any things are possible. In my case everything is possible.

    My middle finger on my left hand came out of joint two years ago. Typing on a conventional keyboard was no long possible. I was weeks getting comfortable with the virtual keyboard. But I finally settled on the two-finger method like the newspaper reporters do in the B&W movies. It works. I’ve typed thousands of words and I’m happy.

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    • To each his own. I’m a ten-finger typist and always have been. You can write on a tablet, but you can’t format a book on it. You can’t even find software to do that that will work on a tablet. Not that I dont’ have tablets. I do. Three of them. But when I need to actually produce work, process photographs, format anything … I need a computer.

      I haven’t use MSWord for a decade. There are plenty of free applications that will do the job very well. Word is overpriced and far too automated.

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      • I, too, was a 10-finger person while I had ten fingers. I’m 79. I guess I wore them out on the old mechanical typewriters. Moving to two fingers was slower a difficult, but I made it work rather than give up.

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        • We are all getting old 🙂 My wrists are totally shot, but poking at a virtual keyboard really HURTS. It’s why I don’t like touch screens. They actually make things worse — for me, anyway. I’ve been keyboarding for too many years … since I was four and learned to play the piano. So for me, that makes 66 years of banging on a keyboard. That’s a fair bit of mileage 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. An interesting article. Five years ago I built what I thought would be my last desktop computer, and would compliment it with a laptop. With the introduction of Windows 10, I found myself disheartened by the new Operating System, and turned around and purchased an Apple Desktop Computer. Some programs need some serious power and memory, that is where the desktop and laptops come in. If one looks around PC computer sites, we see computer hardware still available… so I think the future of small devices will never take off in a big way.

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    • I am betting that everyone will own a little of everything, but serious work will always require a machine with a bigger screen and a keyboard. Little devices are cute and fun and we’ve all got them. AND computers. Many people I know are actually going back to big desktops because you can get a lot more power for a lot less money in a desktop. Laptops have size limitations too. But no one will ever WANT to make a spread sheet on a tablet or telephone. We may want to show it to someone on a small device, but not create it. I get eyestrain thinking about it.

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  3. I do not know where the idea originated that a tablet would be a replacement for a computer-laptop. It never entered my mind when I got my first tablet that I got it to replace my computer. It is a quick and handy way to see what is going on in my cyber world. Perhaps make a short, very short, comment on a blog. Since I have my Apple computer I can quickly switch it on, write a few remarks and switch it off – need no electricity for up to 10 hours. But a tablet as a replacement for a computer – never. I like my tablet, because it is a tablet – not more and not less.

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    • I think this was something that tech magazine editors were promoting. I read a series of these idiotic articles and I kept thinking — don’t these people do anything but email? You can’t write, edit, process photographs … or really, do any meaningful work on a tablet. Not even a BIG tablet. I think no real computer user thought for a moment that tablets would really replace computers. They are exactly what you said — small, portable, convenient for checking stuff, reading, listening to music maybe. Otherwise, you need a bigger screen. A hard drive. A mouse. A KEYBOARD.

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  4. THANK YOU! Im so in agreement! I enjoy my tablet, but it’s a necessity when I want to read in bed or listen to music before I go to sleep. It can’t and never will replace my desk top. In honesty, because I know it well. I am not partial to lap tops because I can’t see well enough to navigate and re learn. Having said that, because I once was a gamer, I LOVE my desk top. I know many love the manouverability of a lap top and I get that. I prefer stationary. I’m sure I’d put it down somewhere and forget where, lol. It’s possible! snickers loudly. When I read that article about pc’s on the “out” i laughed. really long and really hard. I’m pretty pleased you and I were proved right, truth be told. woot woot

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    • I gave up my desktop after heart surgery because I need to keep my feet up … which I can’t do in the office, but CAN do with the laptop in the living room. Otherwise, I really liked the big screen, but I have adapted.

      My laptop really doesn’t go anywhere unless I’m going on vacation, in which case it comes with me. Otherwise, it lives in one place. At night, I use the Kindle to read or listen to audiobooks. Without a keyboard, I really can’t communicate and I don’t like touchscreen. I’m much much happier with a mouse.

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  5. I don’t have a tablet. I occasionally think one might be handy, but the phone and laptop travel with me and the desktop is all I ever use at home. Now a desktop that doesn’t crash every few minutes would be handier still…

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    • This computer been crashing a lot recently … which is why I’m pretty sure I need a new one. I’ve got some kind of driver issue and application compatibility issue(s). I thought I had it fixed. But it’s not fixed. So, I share you pain. Literally. I have a SMASHING headache. Each thing I fix breaks something else.

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            • My computer is also Windows 7 Pro. I like it much better than 10, but I’m beginning to have trouble with updates. That computer refused to run on a new operating system. I wasn’t surprised. It has some high end components that run their own update apps … but all the new updates are being designed for Win10. It’s a loop. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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                • I think it depends on what software you use, too. And the kind of graphics card in the machine. That’s the downside of high end computers, that you really have to coddle them. Also, I got this when Win8 was already out for more than a year, so the OS was technically “obsolete” from the get go. I’m not sorry. NO way could I live with Win8. It would have made me crazy. And the previous computer wouldn’t run any graphics software. And it had a really poor resolution screen. It blue screened so often, it was hell to use. None of us can see the future. And I’m not sure even had I seen it, that I had many other choices. Technology changed faster than expected. Score one for the other team 😁

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                  • My laptop has W8…and when I got this it had just come out. I got the tech guy to retro-install W7 instead. I’ve persevered with the crashes, knowing there was no way I wanted to upgrade to W8… now 10 is around, I’m still hoping I can wait a bit longer 😉

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                    • I know a lot of people who had 8 and went to 10 and are happy enough to not have 8 anymore. To me, 10 is only nominally better than 8 and a definitely downgrade from 7. But past a certain point, the operating system and the new apps and their upgrades don’t work properly. I don’t run a lot of software, but I run a lot of photo-editing software and filters and I’m beginning to have nonstop trouble keeping these programs running. So I know I’m going to have to buy a computer and it is going to have to be the best one I can humanly manage because it’s going to have to really go the distance. My husband, the dear man, says if I’m going to spend money, get what I really need — and will need — because so much of my life is based on the computer. He’s right … and I should be looking forward to getting a new rig. But I’m not. Setting up a new computer is a HUGE pain in the butt. Not that I’m going to have a lot of choice.

                      Microsoft better not come out with a new OS two days after I get a new system!

                      AS I WAS FINISHING THIS — I got a blue screen and down we went. Definitely issues. All about the graphics card. Which is working fine … but NOT with a lot of the other stuff on the system. It’s a software incompatibility problem and it’s only going to get worse.

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                    • The trouble now is that no matter how well we choose, there will be something ‘better’ out the next day/week/month. When Nick had his computer built…which runs half his house so he could actually use it… the rig was supposed to be ‘future proof’ for years to come, it was so vast and so good. Five years on and half the mobile phones have the same sort of processing power, if not the same breadth of memory.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yes, that really IS the problem. When I was in college, a computer that had a LOT less memory than a modern tablet was housed in a separate building. It was like a holy place, with strange men in dark suits coming and going with black briefcases full of strange tools.

                      No matter what anyone says, nothing is “future proof.” Cameras last longer than computers because the physical limitations of the “glass” keep cameras in the realm of the real.

                      I will buy the biggest, baddest, Windows 10 Pro machine I can wangle and hope — if it isn’t future proof — it will at least give me a good five years. In this super high-speed techno-race, I think that’s the best I can hope for.

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  6. Agreed. I’ve been using HP workstations for about 10 years. It will do anything!
    You can’t run a business on a tablet or smartphone. I think tablets are more task specific. They are great for sales people and such.
    I also don’t think cloud computing is going to put HP, Dell or EMC out of business. The cloud has to physically reside somewhere.

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    • Right you are. I keep reminding people. “Clouds” are just other people’s servers. There are no clouds. Just big computers that belong to corporations … but like real clouds, they can dissipate very suddenly. Keep your own data somewhere safe.

      I think tablets are fun and useful, especially as display devices and readers. Just not instead of a workstation!

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  7. I agree too. This winter I’ve used my new laptop a lot in the evenings so I can be comfortable in the living room on chilly evenings but I still use my ageing desktop. I don’t know if I will replace it when it finally meets its maker or just stay with the laptop. I bought one with the same size hard drive and the same amount of memory so theoretically it should be able to do the same job although it runs Windows 10 which I don’t like as much. My sister likes the all in one style of desktop but I always liked the “box” because it meant that we could upgrade components to lengthen its life or at least open it up to give it a good clean. You can’t do anything on an all in one yourself as it is a sealed unit. My tablet is great for reading in bed, watching a video (not a whole movie, that would be tiresome on a tiny screen.) or catching up with email and social media but other than comments I find it too much of a hassle for blogging. I am a ten finger typist and don’t really like the virtual keyboard or having to constantly wipe the screen.
    I think the writers who promoted the idea that everything would be done on phones and tablets are part of the movement to “dumb down” computing, and practically everything else these days, for people with short attention spans.

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  8. We have two tablets, and they have one purpose – travel. When we head out, we take the tablets. We check email, read, search for something, but they don’t contain any financial information and if they are lost or stolen, oh well. The rest of the time, they reside in a cabinet. The two laptops await our return because they know we love them best – screen is bigger, office is available, photo library is there, bill paying is recorded, and best of all, there is room for our fingers to type. My fingers type and do it well. Thumbing and swiping is better left to my grandkids. 🙂

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    • I think our grandchildren were born with pointy little thumbs suitable for texting. I missed that genetic adaptation. Maybe voice activation will finally come of age. It’s better than it was 10 years ago, but it still doesn’t hear me correctly most of the time. Not on the phone or the remote or the computer. I’m still waiting for whatever they used on the Enterprise.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: HOW TABLETS DIDN’T REPLACE LAPTOPS. AND WON’T. — SERENDIPITY – gadgetshub

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