An American Editor

July 25, 2011

To Tablet or Not to Tablet: The Conundrum

All the world’s been taken by the tablet. Each week brings a new tablet to compete with the original Apple iPad. When it was just the Apple iPad, I had no problem answering the question, “Should I buy a tablet?” For me, the answer was clear — no.

My “no” came about for various reasons, not least of which is that I really dislike Steve Jobs telling me what compromises I have to make. For me, the lure of the PC/Microsoft world has always been that, with the exception of the operating system, I have choices — and lots of them. The result has been that over the years I have had my computers custom built locally. If I wanted a faster but smaller hard drive, I could have it; if I wanted extra memory, I could have it; if I wanted a different type of mouse, I could have it; if I wanted a different keyboard, I could have it. Unless I bought from a company like Dell, I could dictate what components my computer was built with and which software I wanted loaded. None of this could I do with Apple.

So in the beginning my answer to the question of whether to tablet or not was an easy “no.” Besides, what would I do with the tablet?

That’s the real kicker and what I wonder about with all of the millions of tablets already purchased. What exactly is it that a tablet would bring to me, aside from separating money from my wallet, that isn’t already provided by my desktop and laptop and could be provided by a smartphone if I had one?

I work all day on a computer; it is the tool that helps me earn my living. Consequently, I have a computer that has been customized to fit the work I do and the way I work. For example, I have three 24-inch LCD monitors with rotating screens. Consequently, I don’t need a tablet to get my daily work done; no way would a 10-inch tablet replace three 24-inch monitors (or even my 15-inch laptop screen).

What about when I need to meet with a client or when I am giving away my secrets at a conference? I have a 5/6-year-old laptop that has all of my work programs on it, can access all of my e-mail accounts, and lets me pop-in a DVD to watch a movie should I need to kill a lot of time travelling. Other than having a smaller, nonrotatable screen (15-inch landscape rather than 24-inch rotating) and fewer screens (one instead of three), my laptop is essentially a clone of my workstation.

What my laptop isn’t, which the tablets are, is lightweight (it’s about 5 lbs. vs. less than 2 lbs. for the tablet) and it lacks touchscreen capability. But then the tablets lack a DVD drive and many lack USB ports and bluetooth technology, which are found on my laptop.

So here I struggle thinking perhaps I should break down and buy the Samsung Galaxy Tablet. After all, I can get it at $100 off (until July 30), which is a 20% discount. I’ve seen the ads for the Galaxy and it sure looks good. But what would I do with the device? As it is, my laptop sits in the corner and is booted up only a few times a year. But my laptop can do more for me than any tablet currently can.

I do know someone who bought a tablet and loves it. But when I asked him how it stacks up to his older laptop, it is like I burst his bubble of enthusiasm with a pinprick. What he keeps pointing to are the “cool” factor, the weight difference, and how much he loves the touchscreen. Not a word about how the tablet actually helps him accomplish anything.

I guess I have a more utilitarian view about things now that I am getting closer to retirement. I know that 25 years ago I wouldn’t have thought twice about plunking down money for something just because it intrigued me or because it was “cool.” But age does change one’s thinking and now I need to justify (albeit to myself) spending $500+ on a device that I have no real need for. I didn’t hesitate to spend $300 on my Sony 950 Reader, but then I knew I would spend hours reading ebooks on it; but what would I do with a tablet?

I’m stuck in that rut of wondering what it is I would do with a tablet were I to buy one. For the most part, if you own a smartphone, you have a miniature tablet. Buying a tablet would simply duplicate what your smartphone already does for you. So I ask: To tablet or not to tablet? I think I’ll continue to wait. I much prefer the $500 to be in my pocket than in someone else’s. There is always tomorrow.


  1. […] with permission from An American Editor […]


    Pingback by To Tablet or Not to Tablet: The Conundrum - The Digital Reader — July 25, 2011 @ 7:20 am

  2. I’ve thought of getting a tablet for something lighter than even my MacBook Air laptop, for when I travel, but it seems like a big expense for something I would only use a few times a year (although, if I got one, I’d probably end up using it more than that). I’ve seen a couple of people using theirs, most recently to show travel photos during a lunch date, which was neat, but I just don’t feel a need for one. For different reasons, I’m with you on this one. If people bring some to this year’s Communication Central conference, maybe that will convince one or both of us otherwise!


    Comment by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter — July 25, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  3. […] Read Adin’s full argument at An American Editor. […]


    Pingback by “Why I’m not buying a tablet” by Rich Adin | Ebooks on Crack — July 25, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  4. For 3 years I’ve been using a Motion Computer 1400 with a 12.5 monitor and a Lenovo Keyboard I use an easel and use it in portrait position.

    Now Toshiba has come out with 13″ monitor driven through usb. If one gets a umpc then,together with the Lenovo keyboard it solves a lot of problems



    Comment by Alan J. Zell — July 25, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

  5. If I had a spare $500 (more in Australia) to spend on a new toy, I might, but I have no necessity for one. I think I’d rather invest the money in upgrading my laptop.


    Comment by Vicki — July 26, 2011 @ 3:09 am

  6. I briefly thought of about a tablet as a way to get a lighter laptop combined with an e-reader, then decided it was too much money for something too fancy for my needs, which would be outdated in a few months anyway. Besides, I find touch screens icky.


    Comment by Carolyn — July 26, 2011 @ 5:42 am

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