Four Reasons Why You Don't Really Need a Tablet PC

Are tablet PCs the future of mobile computing?'s Al Sacco, says not to bet on it. Here are four reasons why the current popularity of tablets could prove to be a mere flash in the pan.

Mon, June 13, 2011

CIO — Tablet PCs are the in thing right now. In fact, you'd be hard put to walk into any sort of electronics store today and not be bombarded with displays for the latest and greatest tablet. But are tablets all they're cracked up to be? Or has Apple (AAPL) and its uber popular iPad duped consumers into tablet envy, and its competitors into a mad scramble to develop their own "iPad rivals?"

Collection of Popular Tablet PCs
Collection of Popular Tablet PCs

I've spent my fair share of time with many of the most popular tablets on the market today, including the iPad, BlackBerry PlayBook, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Motorola's (MOT) Xoom, and I've come to a clear conclusion: The hype exceeds the reality.

I'm not saying that tablets aren't well suited for some select industry segments or specific types of user. They are. Nor am I trying to imply that tablets will never evolve into truly valuable business tools. In some cases, I think they will.

For an "average" tablet user that has no specific business-related purpose for employing such a device, the sheen on the popular form factor is rapidly wearing thin. When that happens, all you're left with beneath that shiny exterior is just another boring old piece of hardware. Here's why.

1) Tablets Really Aren't Particularly Portable

My number one issue with tablet PCs: They really aren't as portable as we're led to believe. In other words, I need to carry some sort of awkward case or bag to carry my tablet; I can't just put it in my pocket and forget it, like a smartphone. Sure, I could tote my tablet in hand, like a book, but that's even more awkward, and it makes me more likely to forget the thing somewhere after I set it down. Or even worse, accidentally drop and/or break it. The way I see it, if I have to carry a bag, I may as well just take my laptop with me, since it's not all that much bigger than the average tablet, and it has significantly fewer usage constraints.

Smaller, 7-inch tablets are much more portable than the iPad or other popular tablets like the Motorola Xoom or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. For example, I can fit my BlackBerry PlayBook in my back pocket—yes, my jeans have big pockets—and this alone makes it one of my favorite tablets. But I still can't sit down somewhere with a seven-inch tablet like the PlayBook or the smaller Galaxy Tab without pulling the thing out and resting it somewhere for all to see.

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