Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Age of the Tablet is Here

Now, I am not sold on the tablet myself. But consider several things. My work entails a lot of writing. I work in my own office, so my office machine and personal machine are one and the same. I blog for a hobby. Needless to say, I need a nice comfortable keyboard which will get 4-6 hours of use on the average day.

When I check and respond to email, I do that on my mobile phone 90% of the time. I would say 95% of time on Twitter and Forums is spend on the mobile phone. I never instant message on my laptop anymore. The modern smartphone means I spend less time on the personal computer. Doing all this on a 7-inch to 10.6-inch display will be more fun and less stressful to the eyes than a 4 to 4.8-inch screen. A device like Samsung 5.3-inch Galaxy Note II could a do-it-all device.

If got a job where the office provided me with a computer in the office, or did not entail a significant amount of time writing, and if I gave up blogging, I think I would ditch the laptop for a tablet, or ditch the smartphone and laptop and replace it with a "phablet".

Point one is that most users don't need anything more than a tablet. 

In terms of price, netbooks, the previous widely sold mobile consumer device had a cost of about 20K until tablets pushed netbook prices down to a bit over 10K. Entry level tablets these days, like Cherry Mobile's Paladin and Advance, COBY's Kyros series and number of other brands offer basic 7-inch tablets for as low a Php3,999. A budget of less than 10K gives your numbers choices of larger displays, HD resolutions and dual core processors.

The second point is that tablets are the cheapest mobile computers ever sold. 

While the Apple iPad was not designed to make you decide to ditch your MacBook, other tablets have been going this direction.

Technology has made tablets more expandable. HDMI out allows your tablet to output content to a LCD TV. And these days, a 32-inch LCD TV and a low cost tablet can cost you just a much as an entry level laptop. Basically, when need a larger display, you can convert your tablet into a 32-inchcor larger desktop. 

With technology like USB on-the-go, WiFi Network Storage, and apps like Paragon, it is only a matter of time before you find a suitable solution for mating your tablet with large amounts of external storage. This removes the main limitation of a tablet as a primary computing platform, limited storage.

Asus with its Transformer, Lenovo with its ThinkPad tablets, Microsoft with Windows 8 and its Surface tablet and Sony with its Viao Duo seem to recognize that this is the future. These devices are designed to be primarily be used as a tablet, with a fully functional keyboard available when needed. The Surface is the most compelling concept among the three. Recognizing that a keyboard is still important, but not that important, the Surface incorporates a keyboard that feels like its not there when not being used.

While the Surface is expensive today, I suspect that when next years Surface mobiles crop up, you will find current models occupying lower price points. I would not be surprised to see other manufacturers coming up with more Surface like designs. This kind of technology will be appealing to those of us who need a laptop more for the keyboard than power. 

The last point is, tablets are becoming more capable by the year.

Low cost of acquisition will attract buyers. Improving technology will bring even in more consumers from laptops to tablets. 

At the local Starbucks, I still see more laptops than tablets. I suspect by this time next year, the situation will be rather different.

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