Tablets

Why tablets will beat laptops in 2012

I was one of those doubters who thought of tablets as nothing more than a gimmick. But having now used these devices more extensively, I've changed my tune. I can see that tablet technology is incredibly useful. My change of heart has given me a growing belief that tablets will replace the laptop as the mobile device of choice. Here are the principal reasons for my new position.

Power consumption
The tablet scores heavily over the laptop when it comes to power consumption. On average, I can get a full day out of a tablet on a single charge. I couldn't even get close to that with a laptop. For anyone who has to operate on the move, running out of power is just another factor that interferes with work. You're less likely to find yourself in that situation with a tablet.

Photo credit: James Martin/CNET News

Captions: Jack Wallen, TechRepublic

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

41 comments
IT Support23
IT Support23

I think it depends how convenient these gadgets would be to the user. I personally, still prefer to use my laptop than purchase a tablet because its more convenient for me to use it and store my workloads.

myangeldust
myangeldust

Shouldn't we really call this article, "Why Tech Republic makes empty forecasts in 2012... and 2013... and 2014..."? Oh, wait, to sell more ad space. I sometimes forget. Jack needs to gets paid. PS: if nearly half of the tablets come with (de-)attachable keyboards it sorta messes up the claim being made.

smochoap
smochoap

With a netbook you can have both the portability of a tablet and the usefulness of a laptop. You can even connect a monitor, mouse and external HDD at home or work if you need. And the netbook is faster and cheaper than the tablet, same size and the screen is protected from damage when closed.

royalheart
royalheart

...but not for video editing nor DVD authoring. The wife and I renewed our vows recently, and I'm working on authoring a DVD of the ceremony. The source files total 185.4 GB in size, with 128,215 files so far. (The size and file count are due to the method my video editor uses to preserve video quality.) For tasks such as this desktops (and many laptops) beat tablets hands down. For today, that is. For portability, and simple tasks, tablets win. Yes, I can drive a nail with a sledgehammer. A 20-ounce framing hammer is the right tool for job, however. So be the same with tablets, laptops, desktops, mainframes and supercomputers. They each have their place. Which device is better? Well, what task are YOU trying to do?

jayohem
jayohem

That way the faithful TechRepublic reader doesn't have to save items from way back when because the topic will recur. I really appreciated it when early last year they republished the directions for rooting the Nook so I didn't have to root around to find the original after I bought my Nook to root. (There's always some salient detail one forgets.) I get to use an iPad2 3G at work and appreciate not having to hunt for hotspots to connect to the Internet. Of course I pay for the phone subscription, but it's a small price to pay for accessibilty. My Nook has no such capability so it's wifi or nothing. Guess it's time to upgrade from phone-modem at home: that or buy my own iPad. :-)

wompai
wompai

Do you now why tablets are your mobile device of choice? Could you just send me another type of mobile device? And don't say smartphone or something cuz they are practically the same...

suzgruba
suzgruba

Tablets are great for personal, on the go use. I don not see the value in the workplace.

tchall
tchall

Protesting that a tablet is NOT in your future makes little sense. Something to remember is that anyone who regularly reads Tech Republic is more than likely NOT going to be using a tablet as their primary system... OTOH, for the things that don't require a fantastic keyboard, two cases of Jolt Cola, and multiple monitors a tablet CAN be useful... Web based status and administration programs can easily be checked on a portable screen... making a LOT more sense to carry with you as you're making the rounds, assisting users, and getting out of the server room to keep in touch with the rest of the business... Non-Techie users (definitely including a lot of sales and management types) that are doing nothing more than checking e-mail or social networking might never need anything more than the limited functionality a tablet offers... Tablets are light, convenient, run a whole work day on a single charge, powerful for their size, and meet quite a few needs... Protesting that they aren't universally a replacement for laptop computers ignores the simple fact that MOST users have more computer than they will ever need. There are places where a tablet will be ideal, including docked/mobile use for IT types.

fgeck
fgeck

Each person is looking at it from various perspectives. I did not think that much about tables for me as a developer but I certainly see that for the non techies that just use email and surf the web and word processing etc it probably will replace the laptop. For the techies that are responding here I don???t see it replacing it at least not any time soon. But like others commented it sure can complement us for mobility.

harishbhushan
harishbhushan

if a new baby born in technology world, the value of father w'll remain same. It means, we can use laptop with any OS, means windows/linux/unis/novell/suse. but in tablet there is dependency of OS, like Android or windows mobile kind of etc. I am a guy in IT and working from the Days of windows 3.1. we know better usage of technology.

gak
gak

I guess she will be happy if her hand is free. This photo shows how a laptop may be better than a tablet...

programit
programit

Work bought 2 iPad2, and they now sit in the cupboard. No useable software and too restrictive. I bought an Acer Iconia and that get used for wasting time on the net at night and playing a few games. Limited use. in the real world. Tablets are generally too underpowered, to cumbersome for anything but simple use, and the software available is primarily basic simple apps, games and novelty items for home users to play with. There is virtually zero business software available for any of them. Tablets are okay as a toy, but as work found for the price of an iPad, they were able to buy a reasonable laptop, and still have change, and then they can run all their software as is - no restrictions and limitations. I enjoy my Acer as a toy, and it was good value, but nowhere near a replacement for even my old 5 year old laptop, let alone the new one.

blake
blake

It is interesting that most of the comments so far are from people who do not have a tablet yet and maybe are trying to justify why they don't need or want one. Although I do not have a tablet, friends who do, love them and are leaving their laptops at work / home. My sister-in-law who refused to use either a desktop or laptop loves her ipad and is using it all the time. They are not going away and maybe will eclipse laptops.

dogknees
dogknees

If they don't do the job. Most people do not spend their time in airport lounges, so the features that work in this environment don't matter to the majority. I've been waiting for decent tablet/slate technology to appear for a decade or more. The problem is, I want something that I can do complex 3D modelling and natural media painting, so that if I see an interesting building, I can sit down and model it on the spot rather than taking a myriad of photos and measurements and trying to re-construct it at home. So, the things I want are large screens, 17" or so. Remember artists and others already carry large portfolios, so a large format tablet would be an improvement.

radleym
radleym

Eventually, we will have smartphones with enough processing power we will carry our own PCs in our pockets. We'll just plug in whatever i/o we need - which peripherals may or may not contain their own processors. We're just starting up this road.

rwbyshe
rwbyshe

I still think the popularity of Tablets is still all about the price. They are simply still not as versatile as a nice lightweight 14" laptop/notebook. If you are willing to deal with mostly getting info they are realistic alternatives but you can do all that with a phone, netbook, or a notebook computer. If you want to output info as in a memo or substantial email they are still less than accommodating... BUT, oh yeah, you can buy a keyboard for them! DUH.... so what does that equal. I personally wouldn't purchase anything in the tablet world at this point. If I needed to be that mobile and cranking out info, it would be a small notebook for me. Until the tablets evolve into possible the 3rd or 4th iteration, I see little about them that would allure me enough to lay down as much as $1000 on one. As I said.... that's JMHO!

Ashley_Drew
Ashley_Drew

The over use of the slide show/galery format to present information. Just give me one page that doesn't require a dozen clicks.

andiestwo5
andiestwo5

Seems to me that your just covering the good points of a tablet, But wait a second here! Tablets have inherent problems like protecting the screen! There's a BIG disadvantage to having an exposed screen to damage and if you get the new cover's to protect the screen what do you have now? a Laptop! Also we have yet to develop a battery that never needs replacing at some point. How much will that cost? and who will do the changing of the battery? Next we have the repairs to look at and you know there will be repairs to be done to them and no one in the computer repair business knows anything about opening one without damage to it. If they DO they will charge so much more than repairing a laptop or computer siting the specialty of the service. I have worked on computer's and also the Engineering at one point. Although it's true that 2011 saw record sales with the tablets,We have not yet seen how this new device actually preforms in the real world. I think that this year we will see that more clearly as more and more people buy the tablets and put them to use. Also I KNOW your wrong in the points of security and Viruses. These people who write the programs known as viruses are not stupid as we all know and WILL catch up to the tablets and i think we will also see that in the new year and years to follow. If for no other reason than to meet the challenge the tablet presents. No! I will wait and see just like all the other technological advancements over the years in computers as well as apps/programs.

wgooldy
wgooldy

I am constantly surprised at the shortsightedness of humans, including myself, on occasion... IMHO, the advent of tablets is not to replace computers, laptops included, but to complement them in the sense that the tablet allows the laptop to be "left behind" and connected to the Internet, while the tablet enables the user to connect to that laptop and leverage its computing power from virtually anywhere...

bhuti.mbele
bhuti.mbele

I totally agree. I bought myself a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 two months ago and with the accessories I get for this thing, I am now always living my laptop locked up at work. It obviously depends what tablet it is but for me my Samsung provides me with everything that I need. Using WiFi File Transfer makes transferring files from any computer to my tablet a breeze as long as they are in the same network. I also like the fact that I can connect it to my big screen TV and watch movies which I have in my tablet using the main soround system. So tablets are a hit definately. Regards Bhuti

Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin

A laptop is a laptop a Tablet is a Tablet they are two different things one will do both which is the laptop the other is purely a portable device ideal for those who that do not require the use of the processing power of real software programmes. Please don't insult peoples intelligence with titles of the ilk "why tablets will beat laptops in 2012" when in reality it is a long way off yet, I have nothing against tablets but for editing 30-50MB Cad files they are a non starter. But for those that do not need a laptop they are a handy tool.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Of course I pay for the phone subscription, but it's a small price to pay for accessibilty." One man's small price is another's "Not enough value for the money."

myangeldust
myangeldust

What if the workplace is aboard the bridge of a Federation starship? Blip-blip, bloop-bloop. I just ejected the motor-thingie from the corner they just told me to face for the next 5 minutes. Time-out?! Oh, now we're all on TIME-OUT!

myangeldust
myangeldust

Too bad we can't test drive an Windows Phone 7 tablet with full MS Office suite installed. "Grab your mobile tab and meet me in the conference room so we can DLNA that spreadsheet onto the wall." Maybe even MS Project for engineers on the work site. "The site manager wants to drag that Metro-tile and lengthen the concrete curing time." How about MS OneNote and Sharepoint on a WP7 tablet? "Hey, I know your waiting on a flight but can you drop those flowcharts from the meeting onto your Sharepoint folder so I can work on them while you're on your trip?" BLAM! Usability just came to the mobile tablet!! Hollah!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Remember artists and others already carry large portfolios, so a large format tablet would be an improvement." There's a marvelous argument that's new to me. Nice.

CWOThomas
CWOThomas

Processing power being subjective to ones needs, PCs that fit into our pockets have been around since the 90s. The Palm Pilot is the best example I seem to recall. Word docs and spread sheets could be created and modified and data entry could be accomplished not only by the stylus, but with a folding keyboard that attached at the charge port. It didn't have native connectivity, but that was easily resolved with a cellular adaptor.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Haven't you heard? $500 electronic devices are now considered commodities. It the battery dies, you're supposed to replace the entire device. After all, you're going to want to buy the latest version of the device in 12 to 18 months anyway, right? Oops, forgot to open the 'sarcasm' tag again. I have no doubt that tablet sales will be up this year, and that part of that will come at the expense of laptop market share. But 'beat' laptops? The two devices are NOT interchangeable, despite the insistence of some pundits treating them as such.

SiO2
SiO2

Tablets have no problem protecting the screen. Usually they are made of resin glass that is on some models much tougher than the thin plastic shell of a laptop. Ever see anyone running around with a laptop under their arm unprotected from weather or impacts? Not likely, they carry them in a bulky case designed for the job, unless they want it shaken to death, corners dented, lid scratched or just full of dust, fluff or liquid. None of those would bother a tablet with a good cover, never mind a bulky case. Tablet economy is different to laptop economy. A laptop is bought with the view that it should last for years even though in reality most are replaced in a year or two for the sake of fashion anyway. Tablets are bought with this in mind, and are covered by a warranty that precludes modifying the hardware unlike a laptop so if one breaks, it is replaced and not repaired as such - unless you count manufacturer recycling parts to a pool from which replacements can be made. Viruses are easier to combat in a non-Von Neumann machine. As a tablet is monolithic and more likely to contain an OS that cant be accessed from the data partition, viruses can only write to user data and not to the OS. Once people get past this annoying habit of 'rooting' because tablet OS are still being made that way, this problem will go away. Android in particular is a problem here, because its so open, but Android isnt all tablets, and some manufacturers are paranoid about protecting the OS to the point of limiting functionality. 'Not seen how the device preforms in the real world'? Please. There are tablets being used in zoos to teach apes, tablets in the dashboard of the Batmobile, in the hands of airline pilots. Tablets controlling UAVs and God only knows what else besides millions of ordinary people watching TV, browsing and playing games. I'll agree with you about waiting for the technology and market to mature a little, but tablets arent going away, and laptops are beginning to turn into tablets with keyboards anyway.

nwallette
nwallette

Enough already. We've seen hundreds of speculation articles on an author's opinion of whether tablets are a toy or a tool. Whether Android or iOS is winning the war. Which apps are the bestest in the world... We get it. We all have opinions, and the same tired arguments pop up in the discussions. Can we please move on now? There has to be something more interesting in the entire world of tech than how some blogger decided that browsing the web without a mouse is fun.

Ashley_Drew
Ashley_Drew

The original article was presented in a quick, easy-to-read format that did not require multiple clicks. I'd already made up my mind to close the window without reading any of the content that wasn't on the main page, then I saw the link to the article from October. I will take the time to read that.

daveinboise
daveinboise

Bought the exact same tablet, besides a glitch in the hardware that Samsung fixed "newton ring", the thing has been great. Reloading apps was easy because a lot of the "paid" apps were connected to my gmail account. One of my focus points on getting the thing was to move as much of what I could up to the cloud. Information is now available from a variety of hardware devices and since I have my tablet with me most of the time, I always have access to my tablet. Currently connected either through WiFi or 4G. Dave

thoiness
thoiness

My desktop for hardcore computing, but personally, if they could make something like a Transformer Prime that ran Windows programs that I use, I'd be on that like white on rice.

radleym
radleym

PIMs led to smartphones led to tablets - we are only beginning ro explore what we can do with so much power in our pockets. But I am referring to replacement of desktop computers with pocket or tablet sized units, supplemented by peripherals which may provide additional task-specific processing power.

radleym
radleym

PIMs led to smartphones led to tablets - we are only beginning ro explore what we can do with so much power in our pockets. But I am referring to replacement of desktop computers with pocket or tablet sized units, supplemented by peripherals which may provide additional task-specific processing power.

nwallette
nwallette

Many of the batteries I've had to buy for laptops over the years were $200-300. So $500 every two years for a new whole tablet isn't exactly out of the question. Wasteful as that may be. I do hope my iPad has a longer lifespan. Knowing all the hands it will go through in that 24 months suggests I may be buying a replacement whether I want to or not. While it has not replaced a laptop for all tasks (I never intended it to), it certainly is convenient and handy. I'll take a tablet over an Internet-enabled TV any day.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"A laptop is bought with the view that it should last for years even though in reality most are replaced in a year or two for the sake of fashion anyway. Tablets are bought with this in mind, " I'm damned if I'm spending $400 or more without the intention of using the device for several years, not just one or two. Some of y'all have been drinking the Apple-flavored marketing Kool-Aid again.

andiestwo5
andiestwo5

Please right back at you! Do you NOT remember how Microsoft sold laptops running the great VISTA system knowing they had Windows 7 ready for sale? ALL those poor people had only one choice when Microsoft changed in the same year to Window's 7 to either use an already outdated system or upgrade to the new one. I suppose you got that all figured out as well but in reality these people got ripped off! The cost of the new system and the shop to install it (because the people who's computers i work on all the time can't install an antivirus much less a system) was as much as buying a new computer equipped the Windows 7 system. Maybe you never heard the hype that CD?DVD's were indestructibly. Yeah That was BS! And What about Nintindo's Virtual Boy? That thing came out with such high hopes and then after I bought one for almost $200.00 they went all the way down to $45.00 and then nothing! they went away! Companies can't be trusted to be up front and honest when it comes to the public. You say people will get a new Tablet every year or so? Please again! I buy Antivirus protection every year,But i don't grab a new Laptop every year and I'm sure as hell not going to buy something else that cost as much as the laptop every year! and I don't know anyone else that will either! There is ALWAYS a way to mess with an OS! But as for the fact that tablets are here to stay,,I agree with you,but it in no way has ALL the bugs worked out and i'm sure that will come out in time, but it will come in new products rather than a simple upgrade just like it's been since Windows 3.1. You don't come at me like you know everything about everything Young Person! I have been around ever since the first cunsumer computer's came out and have watched as they developed into the computer's we see today. I had the only Autherised Commadore service center in all southern Colorado called The Danin Electronic's! I ended up with over 200 computers sitting on shelves waiting to be repaired because Commadore would not send me parts siting they were back logged for the parts costing my Shop thousands in income. I agree with you on one thing. Tablets ARE the future,but right now it will see most use as a big pretty cell phone. For awhile anyway. But it's going to take much more than a few months to prove itself.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If we're talking about out 'druthers', I'll take tickets to Bristol Motor Speedway and a hotel in Johnson City, TN, over either one.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Actually, if you bought a Vista system after W7 was announced, you could apply for an upgrade to W7 at minimal cost. As to your Nintendo example, I'm not sure what that has to do with tablets. All electronics manufacturers mark down hardware eventually, especially before the next version hits the market. I agree with most of your other points, excluding your assumption of SiO2's age.

SiO2
SiO2

For the record., my first computer was a ZX-80 I put together myself, it was all I could afford. I'm a 45 year old ex-professional computer engineer. I fell in love with computers when I encountered one at my school aged 12. I'm autistic and have an eidetic memory so have managed to learn literally hundreds of computer languages, operating systems and ways to take them apart. Actually, I dislike tablets. They are underpowered and very hard to repair next to a desktop or even a late gen laptop. And you cant beat pounding keyboard for fast communication. Tablets have been around for over a decade my friend, only the iPad and its pretenders would have you believe otherwise. Granted recent advances like capacitive touchscreens (had one in the 90s on a CRT monitor) and ARM mobile processors (again, 90s) have made them saleable now they are thin enough, but thats all. Finally, nothing is indestructible or lasts forever. I dont like the way our economy works regarding tech either. I replace or upgrade my computer when I want, having ditched the Windows Tax and gone to Linux. I think you are also confusing tablets with smart/super phones. Most tablets dont have call functionality unless they are sub-tablet sized... I wear an E7 on my wrist, as its the perfect size, runs Python and makes calls. I permanently wear noise-cancelling headphones to keep the crowds out of my head, and its media player integrates my music and calls nicely. This for me is perfect, as is your choice for you. But we both are not the majority, whose wants ARE served by the manufacturers. For a price...