Tablets are dead

For those who don’t know me (but then, why should you be here in the first place?) I am a gadget nut. I got an iPad as soon as it was available, followed by several others, but with every new iteration, I grew more and more uneasy at how difficult it was to pinpoint at least ONE use case where a tablet (be it iOS or Android) would be the unique solution.

To this date, three years of intensive use and four devices later, I have yet to find one.

Just about everything I can do with a tablet, I can also do with a smartphone, with more battery life and way more portability. A phone will fit in my pocket and, despite all my gadget love, taking a tablet along when I leave home it’s still a very conscious decision. I need a special bag, whose use I have been trying to disguise as a man purse. The only plus is a larger screen which of course is much more pleasant to the eye.

And as far as replacing a computer in daily use, I am sorry, but those who say so don’t know how to use a computer; keyboard is frustrating after 30 seconds of typing, lack of access to the file system is unnerving to say the least, extreme difficulty in connecting peripherals even to do simple things like printing something or connecting a USB device drives me crazy.

At the end of the day, I find myself using my iPad to read books, but as an ebook reader any Kindle can run circles around it in battery life, screen readability and weight. This means in the fall my iPad goes to my daughter so that I can claw back my very old (but extremely capable) Kindle.

Since this discussion is born out of a Twitter exchange with other people, I stated I would describe the gadget I’d be ready to consider as a trade-up. Let’s start with the two devices in the pictures.

brookstone projectorlaser virtual keyboardNow imagine the following enhancements:

  • the projector has a laser focus-less system.
  • The virtual keyboard is encased into the projector body, and powered by its battery.
  • Add a high speed wireless connection to any phone, AirPlay-style.
  • Add a set of retractable legs in a recess of the device.

All of this technology exists, but hasn’t (yet) been put together in a neat, usable package like *cough!* Apple would do.

When it will, we will have something which we can call Enhanced Extremities and for which I’d be willing to pay upwards of €500.

When your phone screen and diminutive keyboard are enough (texting, email reading and browsing) the EnEx stays in my second breast pocket or in my trousers. Conversely, when I need a bigger screen or a more efficient keyboard, it’s the phone which stays in my pocket and I only use the EnEx to see/show better and using a keyboard where at least my thumbs do not argue with each other.

Where is the Kickstarter subscription?

3 thoughts on “Tablets are dead

  1. I think tablets do have a specific use case but its a frustratingly non-specific one. It’s the “grab and check”. It’s for second screen surfing. Its really a thing to dip into, where the killer app is immediacy. The second killer app is richness. No one with a smartphone NEEDs a tablet, but its just a bit nicer to use – bigger pictures, more magazine-like layouts, easier text. So its a bit of ergonomics too. However, that ergonomic aspect is a comfort thing.

    Our 2nd gen ipad fulfils that amorphous use case in a way that my macbook air (even with its speedy start times) fails to do.

    And this comes to the real problem I see in this market.

    Why upgrade?

    For us, the real advantage is that its a flat holdable window (immediacy) to the internet (and maybe a few apps too). Its never been too slow to do anything. We don’t take pictures or process videos so there’s no need for anything more that the base level 16Gb model.

    Until they can make them thinner and lighter by an order of magnitude (which successive iPads with better screens requiring heavier batteries have failed to do), then there is nothing that a newer tablet would do better.

    So I think we may hit peak tablet – the point where anyone that might fancy one has one. At that point the pace of growth will slow as people only swap them when they break or when the market shifts enormously. In other words more like the replacement cycle of a TV (another “window” device).

    • Very well said Adrian.

      In reality, I do see a place for tablets: stuck on walls. I can see my wife using a conveniently placed tablet to read recipes as she cooks, or I can see a tablet lying around the sofa as a second screen when watching TV.

      And I also agree with your other point about upgrades – in fact, when I replaced the iPad that got stolen in Moscow, I didn’t even bother putting a SIM inside and I went for the 16GB model for exactly the same reason: I’d rather connect with my NAS (at home) or Dropbox (anywhere else) for storage.

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