Ipads and tablet PCs have commercial appeal. Who doesn’t want to have the latest gadget or be part of the latest tech buzz? iPads look cool, and they have earned more than their share of buzz. But do you really need one? If you already have a smart phone, you have access to a lot of the apps and tools that you’d get with an iPad or tablet. For tasks that require a bit more computer muscle, you might as well save your money and stick with your laptop, right?
Though these high tech tools are not for everyone, there is more to tablets than gimmickry. If you regularly need to perform certain tasks, a tablet could become invaluable. Here are the things that iPads and other similar devices can do better than any other type of device.
One of the benefits of early tablet PCs was the ability to write with a pen-like device rather than typing. This continues to be an attractive feature in many tablets. Unfortunately, iPads require a third party stylus and handwriting application. This is not a useful feature for people in a regular office setting or anyone who prefers typing to handwriting. However, writing rather than typing can be useful in certain situations. Students can take notes in class without noisily clicking their laptop keyboard. People in on-the-go, fast-paced professions can use tablets to jot down quick notes, or even use handwriting recognition software to send emails that appear to have been typed. But let’s face it, in 2011, most people are as adept at writing as they are at typing on a keyboard or a cell phone.
Those who are interested in a Kindle or other similar e-reader devices might also consider an iPad. Kindle, Nook and Sony e-readers are pretty much one-trick ponies. iPads can be used to read different formats of e-books and can also be used for various simple online tasks like emailing, Facebooking, etc. With an iPad, you won’t be tied to a single e-reader and will be able to do basic online tasks without having to sit in front of your computer or lug around your laptop.
That said, it is difficult to see the original iPad as a stand-in for laptops. Sure, you can get enough memory and perform all the basic online tasks, but without basics like a disc drive, card reader or USB port, there simply isn’t enough muscle. The iPad 2 will answer some of these concerns, but other tablets, like the Android powered Toshiba Tablet also offer USB ports and SD card readers. Plugging in a USB keyboard and being able to read external media can give a laptop like expedience without the bulk.
So there are a few features that make tablets a good replacement for laptops. But what about smart phones? iPhones, Blackberries and Android-powered phones can do a lot of the tasks that iPads can do, and they come in a smaller package. Sure, the combination of an iPhone/Blackberry and a lightweight laptop makes a tablet PC or iPad unnecessary. But smart-phones come with a negative: pricy data plans and extended contracts. iPads can give you a decent amount of portability and allow you to complete the same tasks that you would do on a smart-phone. You can skip the expensive data plan (as long
as you have regular access to wi-fi) and get a cell phone plan that allows talking and texting. This will save you money in the long run. Of course, you’ll have to rely on wi-fi (sneaking into a coffee shop or library in order to access the internet-powered features on your tablet), but it could be a worthwhile iPhone replacement if you are not concerned about minute-by-minute connectivity.
Tablet PCs and iPads continue to carve out their niche. Now, they are at least a viable, if unproven, alternative to smart-phones, e-readers and laptops.