Why tablets can’t replace laptops and netbooks (at least not yet)


It seems that Android/iOS tablets are everything these days, especially in the tech world. They are praised as the best thing since personal computers and as the new way to interface with technology. A Galaxy Tab ad even sports the slogan "the laptop has evolved." This slogan sets quite an ambitious goal for tablets, one I don't think they can meet yet. 

Let's take a look at why.

Text entry on tablets is still too difficult. This problem has plagued tablets since their beginnings and still has not been solved. Some people can get by typing on glass, but those who need to do more than basic text entry have very few options. One of the supposed options is a Bluetooth keyboard, but it is usually a hassle to find one that works with your device and works properly. Speech to text could become a solution eventually, but it is not ready to replace typing yet. 

The operating systems are too limited. This point is debatable, but I think that for tablets to replace laptops they will have to add some of the functionality still limited to laptops. For me, the thing I most miss on my tablet is the full version of OpenOffice, a more functional browser (Honeycomb almost fixes this), and a full featured audio/video player. 

Compatibility with other devices is limited. This is both a hardware and software problem. Android/iOS tablets do not usually have connectors necessary for cameras, printers, and other peripherials, and even if they did their software would not yet support it. Tablets at least need to be able to import pictures from all kinds of devices—SD cards, USB hard drives, and cameras—and print them out in order to replace my laptop. 

The price is still too high. Netbooks took off because they offered moderately functional computers under $300, and now you can get a good netbook for around $150. Laptops cost more, but a nice one can be had for under $500. Since the low-end iPad begins at that price, the Galaxy Tab costs a bit more, and the Xoom is rumored to be $800, the price is not right. Tablets do not yet offer the functionality of a laptop or netbook you can get for half the price. 

These points are based on my usage of a CR-48, Nook Color, and iPad, but there are many other use case scenarios out there. Would you or have you replaced your laptop with an Android or iOS tablet? 

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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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