I am having the same problem with the tablet I have. I use my IPhone 4s because it serves the purpose that I need (i.e. phone calls, texting, contact organization, email, maps, etc...). I use either my work notebook or my home desktop because it serves the larger computing purpose that I need (i.e. needed work functions, larger emails, finance applications, etc...). The tablet has been relegated to the realm of play more than anything else (I definitely prefer Angry Birds on the larger screen than a phone). I have tried to use it for useful work, to have it supplement my notebook or desktop, but it just can't do that, whether it be the apps designed for it or the keyboard, it just can't replace my desktop or notebook. I am wondering if I need a tablet that has good battery power that I can walk around the house with or take to a meeting, but still be able to get my larger computing needs done. I don't want to have to compromise when it comes to productivity on a large screen. I already compromise on my phone, but it serves the purpose that I need. The tablets that are out now are just big phones without all of the features to allow me to get larger computing tasks done. Tablets need to not be another device, but a capable replacement device. I have a phone, I don't need just a bigger version, I need it to work on a larger scale.
Well said Rick. I haven't seen this viewpoint written anywhere else, but I definitely agree. I've got my work laptop that I dock to a couple of 20inch screens at the office. I'll use it to work from home a lot of nights. I prefer typing on a regular keyboard. And the laptop has Microsoft Office and other programs I need if I'm creating content. I'm not sure a tablet would be as easy for creating new power points.
I've got a Kindle Fire, but I rarely use it. There are no ipads in my home and I don't feel like I'm missing out on much. My kids use the kindle to play games and I'll sometimes downloads books on it. But I don't feel the need for any more screen time. And if I do, you're right that the 55-inch TV fills that need when I'm home and my iphone 4 fills the need when I'm out and about.
I write this reply on my ipad 2, sitting In a coffee shop. Since I got this ipad, my laptop has collected dust in my closet. I added a Bluetooth keyboard 18 months ago and it's functionality has replaced the laptop completely, paired with cloud services and a wifi link to my desktop. In record audio a video interviews, take and send photos, conduct conference calls, make overseas calls for free, play games. Watch television programs, control my tv, surf the net, participate in social media, write articles, keep records, do business accounting, listen to music. And I carry in in a lightweight messenger bag. It weighs a fraction of a laptop and has all the functionality of a laptop.
@Lou: It's folks like you and Patrick Moorhead that are showing us Luddites the way. You will prpobably live at least seven months longer than I will given the extra time I spend lugging by computer backpack around like the digital caveman I have become ;-)
A couple of years ago, an editor I was meeting with found me at a table in a Starbucks while I was working on an article. We talked about my Bluetooth keyboard and then got to work. A year later I ran across him at a tradeshow. He was writing and filing stories on an iPad with keyboard. See how it's done once and you're hooked.
Now we are talking Lou. That seems like a very good use for a tablet.
I'm of two minds on Rick's conclusion here. I bought a Samsung tablet about a year ago. I loved it for the first few months. I still kind of think I love it, but the truth is I haven't picked it up in a long time. I'm not giving up on it yet though. But I do need to charge it.
I view tablets as a 'consumption' only device. You watch Youtube, read EE Times, watch webinars or movies, even online classes from MIT or Stanford. You might do an email once in a while (if away from the 'office' and you can't wait to respond), but thats the only 'production' I do.
I think it's just one more screen alternative to watch something on (or read something on). Phone, Tablet, Computer, or TV. I don't watch stuff on my phone so a tablet fits in nicely when I want to get away from the computer...
That is a common perception, but tablets are increasingly being used as portable creation/production devices in a variety of areas (e.g., writing, screencasts/videos, artwork and even music production to name a few).
I'll admit that I work intensively on my laptop computers and I that use an iPhone as I travel. While I don't use a tablet, the niche is clear to me. It is an ideal electronic device for recording information while walking around in a lab or manufacturing facility. Laptops are not made to be used while walking and iPhone screens are much too small for serious text or data entry. By the way, years ago I became an expert on the Palm Pilot at taking notes in meetings. Having a machine readable version of my notes at the end of the session was a real treat. In those days, the special writing font (using half the screen as the data entry surface) enabled me to enter text very fast. When the "new and improved" disk drive version appeared, the Palm software functionality collapsed and I never successfully entered spoken text in real time again. I miss the days of that functional handheld device. If I didn't already have enough computers and phones to manage, I'd be thinking about a tablet.
There are several note-taking/writing apps that offer handwriting to digital text conversion. There is even a free app - MyScript Memo - that allows you to test one handwriting recognition engine out, which seems to work surprisingly well. The same developer even offers a basic calculator that recognizes handwritten mathematical operations.
I too, miss the simplicity and reliability of the Palm input. I found an acceptable replacement with a Lenovo Yoga 13, OneNote and using a Wacom Bamboo stylus on the pen input mode of Windows 8. The Win 8 handwriting recognition needs some work to be as robust and reliable as the Palm was, but it gets the job done. I just flip the Yoga open to tablet mode and use it in meetings and walk around tours to take notes in real time.
Tablets are all the rage these days, but they aren't for everyone. It all comes down to what you do. Tablets are small, light, and easy to transport, but with a critical caveat.
A friend got an iPad and called it a Media Consumption Device. He was exactly right. It was essentially half-duplex, with an interface optimized toward selecting the media you wished to consume.
What do most users spend most time doing with a computing device? Consuming media. Browsing the web, watching video, listening to music, reading text, looking at photos, reading email...all things that require a screen and sound, but don't require a keyboard or mouse. A touch screen to let you choose what you want to do is an adequate UI. (Answering email requires a keyboard, but laptops have on screen virtual keyboards, and users are increasingly terse in replies because tablets and smartphones make lengthy replies a chore.)
Some users use a smartphone for that purpose. Some use a tablet. Which gets used seems to come down to screen size. But meanwhile, for those users, the device does what they need to do.
I don't have a smartphone. My phone is the smallest, lowest end model Samsung makes. All it does is calls and SMS, and that's all I want it to do. Everything else is something else's job. The biggest reason for that is that I simply need a bigger screen for the sorts of things I do than a proctical phone can have. I don't have a tablet either, for much the same reason. The screen on my system it home is a 23" model doing 1920x1080 resolution, and I wouldn't mind a larger one.
I also do rather more than xonsume media. I create as well as consume content, and that requires a keybaord and mouse. I might acquire a tablet at some point, but am in no hurry. My principal use case for a tablet - reading ebooks - is handled by my PDA. I've been spending a bit of time off and on thinking about how I might best use a tablet, but nothing I can think of is compelling enough to make me run out and buy one now.
I used to use a PDA (and then iPod) for reading books, but now mostly use an iPad as it has become my "go to" device for so many other things. As far as creating content on a tablet, there's no doubt a physical keyboard is probably easier for most users who are creating longer-form content, but this is easily addressed by using an external Bluetooth keyboard. The tablet + BT keyboard combo is still smaller and less weight than most notebooks, and more versatile. As far as a mouse, yes, sometimes a mouse would be useful, but there are also many cases where the touch interface of a tablet works much better than using a mouse on a PC ever did.
@Rich: As far as a mouse, yes, sometimes a mouse would be useful, but there are also many cases where the touch interface of a tablet works much better than using a mouse on a PC ever did.
I think my iPad was the first device I owned with a touch interface. I love the fact that it's so intuitive. A couple of weeks after I got my iPad I picked up the little NetBook computer we had sitting on the sofa -- I was gettig really frustrated pressing the screen with my finger and saying to my wife "this thing's broken" when I remembered that, unlike the iPad, it didn;t have a touch screen :-)
A couple of years ago at the Microsoft Build conference, one of the speakers made a big deal about how touch was going to be in everything and that pretty soon we would think of any screen without touch as a broken screen. I was skeptical at the time, but now I am starting to understand. It is going to be in every screen. And kids being born now are going to find it hard to imagine that there was once a time when all screens were not touch screens.
I'm sure you all remember this video of a baby trying to use a magazine like an iPad that went viral a couple years back....
Yeah, no doubt. But I don't think that is any different than it's always been. When you grow up in a world with technology, you can't really imagine how things were before that technology existed. I myself am just old enough to remember when TV remote controls came into widespread use. For someone born a few years after me, can you imagine what they thought of the idea that you had to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel?
@Dylan: I myself am just old enough to remember when TV remote controls came into widespread use.
When my grandfather had a stroke, he was completely paralyzed down his left side spo he came to live at our house. I was about 10 at the time. We lived in a "two up, two down" type house -- downstairs we had the family room and the dining room (both about 14' x 12') -- so we converted the dining room into granddad's room (he was pretty much bedridden).
We had a black-and-white TV in the family room and we got another one for granddad. There weren;t any remote controls in those days, but my dad got an old broompole -- granddad coudl use it to push the buttons on the TV (we had only 2 or 3 channels in those days) and he was as happy as a clam with his "remote control" :-)
Now that is what I call an elegant solution, Max. I think that must be where you got your engineering mindset.
That's another thing that has changed so massively. You had two or three channels. I was born in the early 70s, and when I was a kid I am guessing we probably had about 10 channels, before we got cable. Cut to today: I'm not even sure how many channels its possible to receive through my comcast cable service but I know it's in the hundreds.
"...when I was a kid I am guessing we probably had about 10 channels, before we got cable. Cut to today: I'm not even sure how many channels its possible to receive..."
Reminds me of the Bruce Willis movie The Kid, where Willis is visited by his younger self (played by a child actor). The latter, after spending a few minutes channel surfing in front of Willis' modern-day TV proclaims "Holy smokes... 99 channels and there's nothing on!"
Max: My first VCR (mid 80s?) was a monstrous machine with a "remote" control that was connected with a cord. I sold it the year 2001, and have no doubt it still works wherever it is. But now the machine must be working manually only. I just found the remote the other day in a box I hadn't opened in some time.
@Tom- Was the person who bought your mid-80s VCR in 2001 interested in it for its VCR capabilities or as a technology relic/museum piece? Do you recall how much it fetched? It's interesting to me that soneone at that time would have wanted a 15-year old VCR with no remote.
I have my iPad/Logitech setup next to my MacBook Pro, and I find myself touching the screen of the MacBook Pro expecting it to be sensitive like the iPad. Sometimes I touch the two external 24" monitors expecting them to be sensitive.
Touch is intuitive, but for pixel-level control I need a device with a mouse, so for tasks like Photoshop a mouse is required.
@Daniel: Touch is intuitive, but for pixel-level control I need a device with a mouse...
I agree -- even on a non-touch screen my wife is happy to use the trackpad on the notepad, but I hate those things -- I'm really comfortable with a mouse in one hand and controlling my trusty <CTRL-x> shortcut keys with the other :-)
I have a folding IR keyboard for the PDA, bought mostly for use with WordSmith, which was the best word processor app for Palm OS devices.
But it presents a challenge when traveling: it's not convenient to use unless there is a steady flat surface on which to put it. So it's more or less usable on something like Amtrak or an airliner where there is a fold-down table on the back of the seat in front of me, but not usable on an NYC subway. (My notebook is usable on a subway, but I don't normally try.) Any substantial typing waits till I'm settled at my destination,
The PDA is dandy as a one handed eBook viewer when I'm strap-hanging.
And anything that requires connectivity is problematic on a subway. Good luck on getting a cell phone signal on the underground portions, and forget wifi. (The MTA is in the beginning stages of a wifi rollout, but it will be a while before it's really usable.)
If I get a tablet, a BT keyboard will be a requirement, but it will still be an "if-and-when" operation. Form factor again: I want a bigger screen than a practical tablet will have. I do things like design projects where I really want to see an 8.5x11 page in as close to actual size as I cen get it.
@DMcC: You remind me of a friend who takes notes at meetings on a fold out tablet connected to his smartphone. And analhyst (and former EETimes reporter) Richard Doherty who was one of the first to use the IBM Butterfly keyboard with hois PDA on airplanes.
There's a ton of great stuff out there to play with and use.
Oh and when it was working I took my Kindle to bed and read Walter Isaacson's bio of Steve Jobs. Isaacson is one heck of a biographer. Check out his Einstein and Franklin bios.
I loved his bio of Steve Jobs ... but I have to say that his bio of Einstein really blew me away -- he didn't get into the math, but by the time I'd finished I had a much better appreciation of Einstein's feat.
Certainly Steve Jobs did not suffer from being under confident. Must have been a very interesting departure for Isacson after writing about Einstein and Franklin. In this case, he was actually able to talk to jobs and if I'm not mistaken he interviewed him over a period of several years. I need to read that book. I've been meaning to for a long time.
@DMcCunny: I might acquire a tablet at some point, but am in no hurry. My principal use case for a tablet - reading ebooks - is handled by my PDA. I've been spending a bit of time off and on thinking about how I might best use a tablet, but nothing I can think of is compelling enough to make me run out and buy one now.
I was where you are now. When the first iPad came out I looked around my office and I thought "I don't need any more computers." At home, I'd just purchased one of those NetBook thinkies for "looking things up".
Then I went out to the design Automation Conference (DAC) and I realized that everyone I knew had one and was using ot for work-related stuff. On the planeflight back, there was no room for me to use my notepad computer (I was crammed in coach with my knees behind my ears), but the person next to me was happily typing notes on his iPad.
This was shortly after the iPad2 had come out -- so the summer of 2011. I've never looked back. I agree that it's more of a content consuming devuce, but there are some great content creation apps also -- Notes Plus is brilliant (text, write with your finger, draw diagrams, capture audio...)
I also love the "Instant On" and the big screen (compared to a PDA) -- whenever I'm watching TV I have my iPad on my knee and I use Google Earth or Wikipedia to check facts on-the-fly.
When I'm travelling I use it to watch videos and TV programs I've missed.
Obviously it's a bit of an outlay upfront, but once you have the iPad, the incredible number of Apps that are available are ... well, incredible. For example, I built a home made Ukulelle -- I was going to go down to the music store to putchase an electronic tuner (I'm tone deaf), but then I thought "I wonder if there's an app for that" ... there was.
Sometime later I needed some random numbers for something ... yes, there's an app for that.
The bottom line is that I LOVE my iPad (and I never thought I would)
In my opinion, what I love most about tablet is, which nobody has so far mentioned, it's perfect when you want to read something when you lie down on couch. Just the same reason you want to read newspapers or books on a comfy sofa -- but not necessarily by sitting down straight up at your desk staring at your computer.
Tablets let me slouch!
I'm with you Junko. I'm a natural sloucher when reading a book or even now searching the web. I still use the earliest-version-Kindle for reading - battery life is great when I travel -- but when that dies I will likely not replace it.
For me the tablets keep falling in that strange area where they aren't as convenient as my phone, but not extremely more convenient than my laptop. This means when it is time for me to make the jump from one to another I end up skipping the iPad and going for the laptop.
My kids use it like crazy though.
I plan on buying the micorosoft surface pro soon. I can see a tablet form factor with a full featured OS on it being quite useful for travelling. I'll have my full office suite as well as photoshop at my fingertips and that is quite appealing.
So I'm guessing that you're not online a lot while in bed? Uhm, I know there are more interesting things to do and congratulations if that's the case. But I pretty much fire up my iPad first thing in the morning before I get out of bed and it's the last thing I turn off before falling asleep. More convenient than my laptop, and way easier to see than my iphone.
I find using the web on my iphone extremely annoying. I quickly reach for the nearest tablet (we are a geeky family, way too many devices...). And, if someone is reading on the tablet (very common) I dash down to my desktop computer. iPhone web surfing is only (in one of my favorite lines from Lord of the Rings) "at the utmost end of need."
Yup; after I got my iPad I stopped using my iPhone 4S. I can't even imagine getting another iPhone because it's screen is so small and it makes me sick. I really wish my iPad let me make phone calls; that would be awesome. I carry it around in a bag with me, I suppose it's called a murse. I can take it on my bicycle easily and, when I want to find something, the large screen makes finding things easy. The $1200 I've put into it seems like a bargin. My engineering efforts are better than ever since aNote keeps me organized and "good reader" gives me access to my books, PDF collection, photos and data sheets. I often pass it around design meetings to show people my notes, data sheets, etc... and they love it.
@kfield, but the question remains whether taking your device to your bed a luxury you want to have. I, after long day staring on laptop or mobile, have no energy left to take another device to bed. Rather i like take a book for reading.
So you aren't a Luddite ... you just play one on TV?
That reminds me of some old Peter O'Toole film where the doctor says something like "I'm afraid your son is a paranoid schizophrenic" and the mother replies "He can't be ... we've always been Church of England"
Rick, you are not alone in finding Tablet (or Phablet) not too much useful. We can for sure surf, listen and watch on it and that too with more flexibility but i do not think that they can replace smartphone (less than 5 inch screens) or laptop (not notebooks). Smartphones and laptops are kind of absolute necessity now but without table one can still do everything without really feeling left behind.
I have a desktop, laptop, and cell phone. I had no real use for a smart phone (the screen is too small for my 57-year old eyes). I recently picked up a tablet (Kindle Fire HD 8.9) and I find I use it more often than my laptop under certain circumstances. I find it's a lot more convenient to use in most meetings, either business or public meetings, unless I am giving a presentation and need to call up material not stored on the tablet or in the cloud.
Like Junko I prefer it to laptops when reading or watching videos. Like her it allows me to slouch comfortably.
Is it a replacement for the laptop, desktop, or TV? No, of course not. But I find it is more convenient for me to use than the other devices under some circumstances. After all it is all about convenience for the user, is it not?
Well, after reading your article and remembering a few psychology terms from my college years; I don't think anything is wrong with you. I guess you simply just don't want to change and we respect that. That's okay. If you are happy with your laptop, that's all that matters. But don't give up your Internet.
I have the iPad2 -- I heard that the Retina doisplay is great for applications that were developed for it -- but that some earlier applications that were developed for the iPad2 don't look very good on the Retina display -- have you heard anything about that?
Whether you prefer a tablet or any touch screen based device over a laptop or any keyboard based device boils down to one question. Where do you primarily use it for?
If you are "using" information - like web surfing, reading e-mail, reading news articles, you can do without a keyboard and a separate pointing device. You can still type though, using one finger at a time (most small devices don't have physical space to use more than one finger at a time !).
If you use it for "producing" information - like writing a book, making engineering drawings, writing web articles, writing computer programs, computer modeling, you work faster and easier while being able to type with ten fingers and use a mouse to make precise positionings.
So I find myself using a tablet for video chats, and a laptop or desktop for engineering work.
Taiwan ASUS provides laptop + tablet ,even plus mobil phone as 3 in one based on Google or Window systems since last year.
Why don't you choose this smart product ? ASUS will provide Nexus 7 II which co-work with Google recently.
Another important message is Taiwan Mediatek announces the first real 8 cores chip MT6592 in the world (not like Samsung fake 8 cores) ,and will be built in ASUS or ACER etc tablet or laptop products in the end of this year.
I, too, got a tablet and played with it for a couple of weeks, just to see if there was anything useful there. There isn't. I use three laptops (and a "desktop ocmputer". for serious work). My little Acer Aspire One, for which I paid $180, runs rings around the tablet, is loads more secure and private, dual boots Windows 8 and Fedora 18 Linux. The fedora tablet just sits there on my desk. Occasionally I pick it up to see if it still works. It would take me a week of very intricate work to "root" it and then make it as secure and private as my mini-laptop, and then, what for? I'll just lug around the extra 14 ounces, thanks.
I didn't get the craze about the iPad until I bought one myself and added the Logitech Ultrathin keyboard/cover. I can now get all of my email on a portable device with a near instant boot time, run 10 hours on a single charge, and synch with all of my documents in the cloud (usually DropBox). Without a physical keyboard the iPad and most tablets are geared toward reading, watching videos, sharing photos and playing games. With a keyboard you can begin to communicate, and for a blogger that is very important.
At the DAC tradeshow in Austin, Texas I was able to meet with 28 EDA and IP vendors over a three and half day period using my iPad/keyboard combination to blog about the experience.
Yesterday at church I used my iPad to read Bible verses and the compact size was more convenient to carry than a full-sized paper-based Bible.
Thanks Daniel. I'm still shopping. After typing on several different add-on keyboards, I found I really liked the Microsoft soft-touch keyboard better than the Apple or other keyboards. I've never been a fan of hard keyboards, perhaps because I type so much and fear carpal-tunnel syndrome. On the Microsoft keyboard, I typed flawlessly the first time out -- which is rare when testing computer keyboards in stores. (And I also like the Surface which seems like a value at the price and includes some features unavailable on an iPad.)
I used a tablet last Saturday to show people a couple old photos of a physical asset that we were touring. I could have used my laptop but I didnt need a keyboard. Before that I can't remember the last time I used it.
Me? Smart phone and tablet free since... forever. Yes, I read email and surf the web at home. My wife's Garmin has come in very handy in strange locales and she loves her kindle (both of which were gifts from me).
But when I go home I want to unplug from work and technology. If I want to create something I go to my woodworking shop or pick up one of my guitars. I manipulate enough electrons during the work day to last me the rest of the day (or more).
I'm the guy that goes to Yosemite and stares at the scenery instead of a smartphone.
The advantages of tablets like battery life and "instant on" have been mentioned, but most of you must not be city dwellers. On a crowded bus, subway, or commuter train a tablet is the only way to go. You don't have a lap for your laptop if you are standing. You can't beat the size and weight if you carry everything in a backpack or brief case everyday and are walking any distance to work or school once you get off your bus, subway, train etc.
You would probably be right. In a city, a tablet might make some sense. For me, and the kind of engineering work I do, a tablet is a toy. I use a desk top machine most of the time at work, and when I travel, I use a laptop.
For me, a tablet is a solution in search of a problem. My wife is an insurance adjuster. For her, a tablet is a legitimate tool. It has important features and functionality that suits her work.
What are the engineering and design challenges in creating successful IoT devices? These devices are usually small, resource-constrained electronics designed to sense, collect, send, and/or interpret data. Some of the devices need to be smart enough to act upon data in real time, 24/7. Are the design challenges the same as with embedded systems, but with a little developer- and IT-skills added in? What do engineers need to know? Rick Merritt talks with two experts about the tools and best options for designing IoT devices in 2016. Specifically the guests will discuss sensors, security, and lessons from IoT deployments.