Wacom has a new pen that allows use of a tablet to replace the Cintiq drawing screens. So its pretty clear that tablets can be used for creative work including drawing, sketching, photo editing, video (recording), etc. This is not to mention communication capabilities (audio and video conferencing, etc).
"...for folks to whom "content creation" pretty much means writing newspaper and magazine articles without illustrations, the tablet can function as a content creation platform."
There are of course all kinds of forms of "content creation" that a tablet can be used for, but in terms of writing specifically, you're selling tablets' capabilities short. Creating/writing content that includes images/illustrations and frequent reference to other content is perfectly within the realm of capabilities for a tablet, especially with the right tools/workflow. (Check out writing apps like Editorial and Writing Kit, to name a couple of iOS examples.) But of course for real "heavy duty" work you will need a desktop or laptop - no one is suggesting that tablets are a desktop replacement.
I can envision a possible future where we buy a processing box that sits in a closet and all of our devices defer the heavy lifting to to it. You just choose which interface is most fitting at the time.
Tablets work effectively as screens for apps that run in the cloud that require more compute power. For example, I use Autodesk 360 which is the cloud app for AutoCAD and other Autodesk applications. It let's you access for viewing or drawing AutoCAD and Autodesk apps and documents. Because the computing (e.g. 3D rendering, cpu, memory, etc.) is done in the cloud, the compute power is not required on the tablet and the tablet effectively just acts as in I/O device.
It is extremely handy to have a device that you can bring with you to meetings, in the field, with customers, etc. to go over designs, etc.
This is absolutely true. When people talk about "working" on a tablet, I often wonder what exactly they mean. If your work is insanely processor intensive and RAM intensive like 3d modeling or simulations, obviously tablets aren't for you right now. Basically, if your work machine is a special system built for your task(like most workstations), a tablet isn't going to cover it.
However, a huge percentage of the business world only needs spreadsheets, documents, calendars, email, etc. Tablets work fine for this. Unfortunately, the form factor can be a bit of a drain after a while if you're a power user and want more information visible at once.
Oh absolutely. I think the question though, is what do you expect out of a portable device. I don't think anyone expects tablets to replace an entire graphics workstation. however, saying that they aren't able to "produce content" because they aren't able to keep up with a 6 core i7 with 64GB of RAM is like saying a scooter isn't transportation because it can't haul the same amount of stuff as a mac truck.
Depends on your images. I'm kind of hard on my photo tools, and I don't see a 1-2GB tablet being much good at editing 5, 10, 20GB images (I do lots of composites). Not only that, but trying to see correctness and detail on an uncalibrated 10" screen. Sorry, not for me, I like my 27"ers.
Here's the thing: tablets, in the Android and iOS model, are used very differently than laptops, even when doing the same kind of things. I don't believe Microsoft was really on-board with this concept. Like many things at Microsoft, this whole mobile computing thing wasn't a home grown idea, it's an import.
So look at their "business" tablet, the Surface Pro. This runs a moderately good laptop CPU, the kind of i5 you find in $500 laptops. So it'll run just about anything a business guy's going to throw it's way. But it's got at best a four hour battery, it's over 2lbs heavy, and it's designed to be used primarily with an add-on keyboard. In other words, it's basically a convertible ultrabook -- it totally misses the point of tablet.
Then there's the Surface RT... sure, it was way over-priced when it came out, the guts of a $350 Asus Transformer TF300 selling for more than a $499 iPad 4. But it had the SWAP down to what you'd expect for a real tablet, more or less, even though Microsoft still wasn't embracing the while tablet idea.. I mean, the whole Metro UI is best used with a slew of available keyboard shortcuts -- hardly the thing for a tablet OS.
But as of just recently, Intel's at least making credible CPUs for tablets. An x86 tablet doens't need to be a desktop or even laptop equivalent -- it needs to be a real tablet. That means as close to 1lbs as you can make it, all-day battery, ideally a display that good in bright light (Asus does this pretty effectively with their IPS+ thing), a little rugged because you're going to be dragging this places, etc. This doesn't affect Apple, but putting ARM, AMD, and Intel in a race for the best tablet CPUs ultimately will make things very good for we consumers. Android's at best processor agnostic, and x86 is pretty well supported in the NDK world, not an issue for most apps based on Dalvik. And for Windows, it's a no-brainer.. you'll take the Windows 8 tablet. It'll run all the tablet stuff more or less as well as Windows RT tablet, but you can use it for some level of real work... or just surf the net with your browser of choice, rather than Microsoft's browser of choice.
I kind of agree. However, as for as 2d goes, a beefy tablet can be fine. Especially if you consider the microsoft surface tablets. I would happily edit images in photoshop or do illustration on one. It is roughly analog to a cintique. Sure, I would miss my 23" screen, but hey, I can do it. On the surface you can also fast switch back and forth from reference, again, not optimal but doable.
That is somewhat of an exception though. I've tried illustration on the ipad and didn't like it at all. No pressure sensitivity, not quite responsive as a desktop etc.