First generation

With some envy I have watched people playing around with tablet computers. I am particularly envious because I know that I could make good use of one for my work, and I mainly see people using them for entertainment. I do not have sufficient means to spend hard-earned cash on a 500-euro toy, and my work already provided me with a laptop. That laptop is pretty powerful, but because of its graphics capabilities (which my research needs) it is also pretty heavy. And having to travel with it a lot, means that I would really like something reasonable equivalent, but much lighter. Ergo, a tablet computer.

Recently I decided to clench my teeth, and buy a tablet. I also knew what I wanted — I am not going to step into the Apple trap again, but the Androids are good enough now to warrant a purchase. So I went into a store and saw the Asus Transformer that I wanted. I slid my fingers across the screen, examined the webbrowser, and was pleased. Then I tried to lift it.

It was heavy! It was freakin’ HEAVY! I tried to lift some of the alternate offerings (including the iPad2), and they were all heavy! I mean, people talk about these things as if they are eBook readers. I have an eBook reader, and I can comfortably lie on my back, the reader in one hand hovering over my face, and read. These tablet computers I need to lift with two hands, and no way I can hold them over my face for any amount of reading time. Granted, my laptop is a bit heavier, but not much. No way I am going to drag both of these things around.

Reluctantly, I left the shop, deciding against buying a tablet now. Yes, I need one, but I need one that is light enough to drag around as an extra, and powerful enough to do my work on. That is not for sale right now. Why don’t these tablets provide what I need? Simple: because they are still a first generation. There is no doubt in my mind that within two or three years we will have powerful tablets that are also light.

There was a time that I went to work carrying a laptop, a phone, an electronic agenda, a GPS, a calculator, and a camera. I am really pleased that I now only need to bring a laptop and a phone, as all the other things are integrated in those. Recently I began to also take with me an eBook reader. As a tablet cannot be a replacement for any of these pieces of hardware, so as soon as I have a tablet, it is an extra piece of apparatus I need to drag around.

A tablet computer is an extra. It doesn’t replace anything. It doesn’t replace a laptop, because it hasn’t got a laptop’s power. It doesn’t replace a phone, because it hasn’t got phone capabilities. It doesn’t replace a camera or a GPS, because it is unwieldy. OK, it might replace a calculator, but I already have a calculator replacement in my phone. It is an extra, and as such it is merely extra weight. It doesn’t help me with my problem.

I will definitely get a tablet — once it allows me to leave other stuff at home. Such a tablet does not exist at the moment.

I now know why I see people mainly use tablets as toys. They are toys. Really, really expensive toys.


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