Commercially pushed by Microsoft in 2001, mobile tablets were preferred for their portability and ability to help us keep up with our work without reaching for our computers. But today, the market of standalone tablets is dying. A lot of people simply do not see the need anymore to own one, since technology has provided better alternatives. What does the future hold for standalone tablets and should you still get one today?
What indeed is a “standalone” tablet? While the concept of a fairly large touchscreen device with computing capabilities is still very much alive as evident in 2-in-1 PCs (hybrid laptops that can serve both the purpose of a tablet and a fully functional laptop), standalone tablets today, are considered repetitive and no longer as powerful or useful as they once posed to be. Repetitive here is to say that they all carry similar design, specifications and functionalities with the likely exception of Apple’s iPad which is perceived to be the most successful tablet till date.
Many manufacturers saw potential in tablets and decided to make them the next of kin to laptops; a plan that seemed to be working until everyone (users especially) realized that tablets could never really replace laptops. Sure, they share certain important features but productivity with a tablet is nothing compared to that of a laptop. The response? 2-in-1 PCs! With 2-in-1 PCs (or Tablet PCs), you get the performance and versatility of a laptop coupled with the portability of a laptop. People instantly bought the idea which is now dominating the market today. Today’s high-end 2-in-1’s include the Microsoft Surface and HP Spectre X360. Then there are budget ones like the ASUS TransformerBook and the Chuwi Hi10. These devices come in different form factors; Some have a detachable keyboard while some may come with a 360 degree hinge, allowing the user to rotate the device… well, 360 degrees.
Another important reason why tablets are dying may be because their operating systems are not quite powerful enough. Android and iOS (the two biggest mobile OSes) are really great but they can not compete or replace the Windows or MacOS in functionality. The latter OSes were designed for the most intensive of tasks and the devices running these systems usually have some of the best specs on the market in comparison to the former.
Also, with these devices getting massive makeovers, portability isn’t something only tablets can brag about anymore. There are laptops like Huawei’s MateBook which weigh just 1.41 pounds! And then you have the smartphones; small but powerful enough to rival -or even outshine- tablets in performance. A 2016 survey conducted on 30,000 respondents to determine what devices they used for various tasks revealed interesting results. (Hint: Tablets sadly got nothing.)
That doesn’t mean tablets are entirely useless or that you should throw yours away if you have one. In fact, there are many reasons to still buy a tablet.
- For The Kids: Tablets make an excellent introductory device for children. Instead of handing them smartphones, a tablet could be more appropriate. There are a lot of kid friendly tabs that allow activities to be monitored on- and offline. They are also usually bundled with educational contents.
- Media On The Big Screen: Due to their large screens, it’s probably easier to enjoy a movie or video on a tablet than on a smartphone. There’s also enough screen for friends and family should they decided to huddle around you.
- Load Up On E-Books: Also due to their large screens, most people prefer reading on tablets than on smartphones and PCs (you won’t get that from the survey). Readers don’t have to squint their eyes to see what’s on the screen and scrolling through pages is more intuitive than using a keyboard. There is the issue of the visual stress but this can be reduced by reading on Amazon’s Kindle or on an iPad with a TrueTone display (more on this soon).
There are probably many more reasons why people would like to get a tablet but the truth is that they are slowing fading away, albeit not totally gone. I believe tablets helped in paving the way for better tech to enter our lives. Should you decide to get one, be assured that the market is still fairly large and there’s a tab for pretty much everything you need.