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Tablets Vs. Desktops Vs. Laptops Computing
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Are tablets poised to dominate the computing world? Not yet, but possibly sooner than you think for the majority of casual users. There are few questions currently igniting as much ire in the tech world as, "Will tablets replace desktops/laptops?" For most people, the answer is a resounding "no", or at least, "not yet". While tablets are awesome and way more fun to use, their functionality is still limited for those who do more than check email and browse the Internet.
New solutions are coming out all the time (so this article may be outdated by the time it's published), but we've analyzed the key components of a useful computing experience to see how each platform measures up. It will be interesting to read through this again in a few years...
If you can't afford something, it doesn't matter how wonderful it is, and tablets are pretty much the losers in this category. While you can get a budget desktop for a couple of hundred bucks and a cheapo laptop for a couple hundred more, tablets are still almost double that. Of course, we don’t recommend buying bargain-basement equipment unless you love the color blue - and if you're a Mac snob, the iPad will actually be your cheapest option. But generally speaking, the tablet is your least-affordable option.
Well, duh. The tablet wins here. Smaller and lighter than a laptop, the tablet fits into the most crowded backpack or briefcase (please use a cover) so you can ditch your extra luggage. Tablets are much easier to whip out on the subway or in a waiting room, and look much cooler than a clunky clamshell laptop. The loser here is the desktop (obviously), which wasn't designed for portability in the first place. Again, duh.
Here's another duh - the desktop wins on power, because it's plugged into the wall. Unless there's a blackout, you're golden. Of the two portable options, tablets win again - while most laptops only give you a few hours of battery life at best, the better tablets may only need a single full charge per day. Although, the temptation to rip the tablet off the charger and take it places is high - restrain yourself until the poor thing has a full belly.
Here the results are mixed. Yes, touch screens are awesome when you're just poking around on the Internet, but when it comes time to do actual work, some people have problems with tablet typing interfaces. Depending upon which one you have, even landscape mode doesn't provide enough room for flying fingers. Typing a text or status update is one thing, but typing a report is another. Most people prefer the tactile sensation of actual keys, especially if you type without looking - it's how you can tell you hit the right key.
For some, though, the laptop is still inadequate because the position of the keyboard promotes an ergonomically unsound wrist position, and the trackpad can be annoying. The desktop offers a larger screen for projects that require multiple open windows or excruciating detail work (CAD, anyone?), and having a bit of elbow room is nice when you're spending hours hunched over your mouse. Try moving text on a tablet. Don't throw the tablet.
Compatibility usually isn't much of an issue with desktops and laptops, unless you're running an ancient OS or something. Don't do that. Tablets, on the other hand, present a bit of an issue. There are apps, but there aren't many optimized for tablets yet. There will be, but at the moment, you may find that some of your work programs simply aren't there outside of word processing and spreadsheets. The compatibility issue is compounded if your other computers are PCs, but you just had to have an iPad - your iPad will read your PC stuff (albeit with errors), but your PC may not be so fruity with your iPad creations (solution: only use Apple products. We kid! No shilling here...).
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