To ‘tab’ or not to ‘tab’?

Okay, the post title was a terrible attempt to coin a phrase that will never come to fruition. To ‘tab’ is referring to using some sort of tablet (larger than your phone) in your day to day life. 2011 is definitely shaping out to be the year of the tablet as the iPad is expected to begin it’s second cycle while major players such as Google, RIM, HP, and others enter the scene with their own slate offerings. Are tablets really the future of computing though? Will a thin piece of glass, metal and plastic replace our precious laptops and desktops?

This post isn’t about a general forecast of the future of tablet computing, but more of a personal reflection to the cheesy question asked in the post’s title…am I tablet material? This is a query I have pondered for years as I have followed various rumors and murmurings of a slate-laden future. The idea seems exciting as I’m all about new technology that is portable and minimal. However, I have wondering with many others of what could I accomplish in that tiny space between my iPhone and MacBook Pro?

This evening I ran across two articles on Ars Technica that really caused me to consider this question again. The first was written by Jon Stokes, titled “Why I don’t care very much about tablets anymore” and the second, being an obvious rebuttal to the first was titled “Why I care about tablets: iPad offers huge opportunities for competition” by Ben Kuchera.  Reading both articles felt like the classic devil and angel on my shoulders with each persuading me their way as I contemplate if I should purchase an iPad or stick to my working iPhone/MacBook Pro setup.

Here are my thoughts. When the iPad first came out, I came to the conclusion that it was pretty cool but really didn’t have anything to offer me personally. It had it’s small niche markets here and there that it would fulfill as a novelty since it didn’t seem to serve as a “necessity” in this world of ours. Imagine my amazement when I learned that the iPad was considered the fastest selling consumer electronic of our time. That’s right, this piece of (in my mind) non-essential hardware was flying off the shelves faster than anyone had ever seen.

Since then though, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several people and their experiences with the Apple device and even observe those close to me incorporate a tablet into their lives. I’ve run across situations that I’ve thought that it would be nice to have an iPad over my current tech arsenal and pondered other ways it could fill in gaps in my increasing desire of productivity.

The conclusion I’ve come to is a moderate, but I feel accurate representation of the tablet category: it’s not necessary, but in some ways can fulfill or improve current aspects of your life. Essentially, more of a toy than a necessity, but a more productive and handy toy than most.

In the end, after reading both articles (I suggest you do the same), I could really connect with the words written, but feel I will in the end join the amassing masses and purchase an iPad to serve my tech “necessities” and chalk it up as a hobby. What do you think? Are you a fan of tablets or do you see it as a mark of our glutenous generation and nation? Do you agree with the points given in the articles? Sound off in the comments, and please, be kind :)…

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  • Soph

    I think it’s similar to the discussion my cousin and I had about our smartphones (he has iPhone 3GS, I went HTC Desire) – my point is that I don’t really need a smartphone like that, but I wanted a new toy and my old phone was, well, old. I never tried to justify my purchase by saying “oh, well, if you’re out and about somewhere that’s not familiar, you can look things up like places to eat” – an excuse which at least three people I know used when getting their iPhones, and one which sounds terrifically weak to me. If you want the shiny new toy, just say so.

    However, my cousin said, and I agreed, that after having access to the functions provided by our shinies, neither of us would go back to a non-smartphone – even if said functions were not my primary motivation for shelling out for an expensive gadget. The iPad, following Apple’s usual pattern, creates a market through projected desirability that’s partly based on Apple’s history of (desirable) products. As with the smartphones, the true value presumably comes through only after use. Unlike when we were kids, and the toys got boring after all the possibilities had been explored in five minutes, the technology of these kinds of gadgets opens up new and innovative possibilities which constantly renew interest and create a comfortable niche for themselves. It’s still not hugely long ago that mobiles were a rarity and now, who would live without them? I’ve even seen one of the homeless guys who sits on my local high street using what seems to be a qwerty phone.

  • Cindy

    I use my iPad constantly. As a speech language pathologist it has become a great tool to use in therapy. I am at two schools and in one I do not have a computer so my iPad works for most of the things I need to do. If I had apple laptops I might feel differently but my schools do not use Apple desktops or laptops. I like the portability of the iPad but miss features like Flash. So yes I’m happy I have an iPad and even happier that I got it through a grant.

  • Sandi K, San Antonio

    Received my iPad on its first day, and agree with your conclusion. Not a necessity, though for my husband could pretty much completely replace his laptop use for both personal, recreational, and business use. We don’t travel with laptops anymore, just iPads. In church, teaching, playing with grandkids, all kinds of uses…

  • Jbraden647

    I am a 63 year old grandmother and I love my ijPad. When my daughter in-law first suggested I get one I said “what for?”. I did play with her and decided I would get one. I LOVE IT. Yes it is somewhat of a toy but us old folks like toys too..I can do facebook,read the news, play games,talk with friends and I’m just getting started. I say everyone should have one….

  • Ila East

    I love electronic toys even though I don’t have many because of the price. I want an iPad. Do I need and iPad, no. If I had one I would use it to replace my ebook reader and keep track of Tweets and Facebook postings mostly and play games. I am retired so I would not be using it for work. It definitely is not a necessity so it will be a long time before I get one.

  • Pamela Welborn

    I’ve had my iPad since July 31st 2010 and at first I had no idea what it would do for me. I played a few games on it. I put some of my favorite books on it and it became the best read I ever wanted. I have a light and a book on one light comfortable reader. I got my e-mail on it, I checked facebook on it. I have something to do in the waiting room at the dr office or any where else I’m waiting. I put my shopping list on it and check things off as I find them in the store. I live 20 miles from a good grocery store, so it’s pretty important that I get everything I need, the store is not down the street like it was for 8 years. But it wasn’t until I took it on vacation and with the Verizon Mifi that I already had for my laptop, I had maps everywhere I went. Internet to look various things up on on the fly but it wasn’t until I was on my way home – 9 hour drive about an hour from home. I have lower back problems and a week of vacation – not getting the regular exercise I get at home, it was aching and I was thirsty. So I pulled off the freeway to find Pepsi. So I told the iPad I was in Corning and asked it to find Taco Bell. PIN! drops onto Taco Bell and I got my Pepsi through a drive through and back on the road I went, refreshed.

    Now I have a ZaggMate with keyboard and it’s really becoming the only computer I really need on a regular basis.

  • Digigrany

    Totally Agree, I got mine for Christmas and my husband said it is growing out of my hip, I have it with me most of the time, I too am a 63 year old grandmother and yes we do LIKE toys TOO!!
    I Love My Ipad!!

  • Susantr

    I reluctantly purchased an iPad for an upcoming trip, so I wouldn’t have to carry books. After some initial frustration (I’m a PC ), I’ve gotten used to it. I will use it on our trip for book and email, but that’s probably it. I use my PC 95% of the time. Hubby bought an iPad for his upcoming hospital stay — he can get both personal and work email, and he can connect remotely to his work PC. It’s smaller and lighter than his laptop, so think it will work fine for him. After the trip? Probably put the iPad away or maybe “gift” it to one of my kids.

    • Pamela Welborn

      I will bet you feel differently after your trip. I know I had no idea it would be so much fun. Put Angry Birds – Sudoku – skee ball and a couple card solitaire games on it. Kindle and Nook have free apps and many of the classics are free. Put them on as well as a couple books in your fave genre or author.

  • Glassgirl Mi

    I want a tablet for reading, but I need (/want) to be able to check email & facebook so I’m “saving” for an ipad. Can’t seem to find one cheaper that is as reliable. Any suggestions?
    M :-)

  • Android Sith Lord ©

    I have a Dell Streak, with a 5 inch screen it is the bastard child of the tablet/smartphone world. It’s pretty nifty though and I’m leaning towards getting a Motorola Xoom but I’m waiting until I get a hands on with the iPad 2.

  • Anonymous

    I have the iPad and a samsung galaxy tab I love the iPad but I love the 7 inch form factor of the galaxy tab much better. Fits in my purse!!

  • Pacific_sidewalk

    I use my iPad to research products to add to my on line antique store. I was about to price netbooks when the announcement came out about this device called an iPad. I am sooooo glad that I waited! It is easier to hold and use and it was like it was made specifically for me!

  • Carol

    I guess let’s hear it for the grandmothers out there! I am a 64 yr old in love with my iPad. I use it for everything, senior moments when I can’t remember something, anything. Calendar ,contacts, pictures of grandchildren and old friends. I can’t wait for iPad 2.