@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)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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'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.
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 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...