Why You Shouldn’t Buy An iPad (or a Tablet) … Yet
People ask me for recommendations/opinions on tablets about once a week. Although I’d love one (especially if it was given as a gift!) I don’t own one. Lately, I’ve been recommending the B&N Nook Tablet to friends because of it’s low price point ($200!) and underlying Android operating system. However, I always preface my recommendations with the fact that I don’t have one.
There are 3 main reasons I think you don’t need an iPad or a tablet.
1. If you already own a laptop or a desktop, plus a smartphone, and a TV (everyone has one of those!) – it hard justify needing an extra screen.
2. It’s another thing to carry. If you like carrying lots of stuff, it’s one more thing. If you don’t carry anything – you don’t need to start now.
3. Current tablets can’t quite replace anything. A tablet needs to do more – either replace a laptop, or do something a laptop can’t. More on that later.
Here are my personal thoughts. Some you may agree with, and others you may not.
1. I haven’t been able to justify spending more than $200 on a tablet. I could read books on the Original Nook eReader that I purchased early last year on Overstock for $85. It works well, handles PDFs and ePubs – but I hardly ever use it. In fact, this week I sold it on Amazon for a little less than I paid for it.
To spend more than $400 on a tablet, it would have to take the place of my next laptop purchase. More on that in #3.
2. Using a tablet is something I’ve also struggled with. There are certain times it would be advantageous. On the elliptical at the gym to watch a movie or tv show – yes. On a plane – sure. In the living room? No, we have a TV. In the bedroom? No, we have a TV there too. Using it while I watch TV? Seems like an interesting thought, but I’d rather just relax and watch TV.
I’ve taken an informal poll of people who have one, and ask them what they use it for. Most say either “reading”, “studying”, “email”, or “watching videos” (YouTube, Hulu, etc).
In my mind, a computer should be for anything I want to do – consuming media, creating content, and anything in between. The tablets currently on the market are geared toward media consumption with poor interfaces for creating. Although there are apps from Apple (iPhoto, iMovie) and Adobe (Photoshop Touch) for creating and editing, the apps don’t quite seem right. I watched a video from Adobe about Photoshop Touch, and although the software looked great, I noticed that the user kept switching between using his finger and the stylus pen to make selections or perform tasks. Since a stylus is not included with most tablets simply because they haven’t been designed to need one, this comes across as awkward and not fully finished with the polish necessary for such an expensive device.
A tablet needs to be created with the mindset that users are creative beings that will use the device any way they can think of, and the maker needs to ensure there are no restrictions on any such device. Which leads into my third reason …
3. I’m waiting for a device that can replace my laptop. It will need to handle and manage my large iTunes Library, allow me to easily copy files to it over the network, browse the device with a file explorer, take precise pen input for sketching and note-taking, connect a monitor as an external device, connect to a keyboard and mouse over IR or Bluetooth, have multiple USB ports, support Windows applications, allow all types of web browsing including Flash, and support Remote Desktop applications to and from the device. Oh, and I don’t want it to weigh more than the current iPad, and needs to have a 10 inch screen for studying and writing.
Although some of those things are available today, it’s not until a device has more of them that I can consider using one as a laptop replacement. Even though I have a laptop, it mostly sits on my desk – I wish it traveled with me more, but the portability factor isn’t quite there. Whatever tablet I choose should be able to handle all the work my current laptop does.
The Tablet I Would Purchase … if It Existed
Back in early 2009, Microsoft leaked a concept video for a creation called the Microsoft Courier. Although it was ultimately axed, the video remains far and away the best representation I’ve ever seen of what a tablet should be for – creating, not consuming. The video is below, although in retrospect, it does look somewhat dated now.
What the video shows is not a device used for sitting and watching, or even a device that might struggle to find a use. Rather, it’s a device that fully integrates with a person’s daily workflow, allowing them to be better organized and use small snippets of time effectively.
The Final Word on Buying a Tablet
If you don’t currently have a tablet, and if you don’t have a pressing need, I’d encourage you to wait. The tablet marketplace is only going to get significantly better, as manufacturers realize that the goal of a tablet should be to replace your next computer purchase, not compliment it.