Apple CEO Tim Cook once claimed that he does around 90% of his official and personal work on his iPad and says there’s no reason why others can’t do the same. There’s no denying that tablets, originally perceived as companion devices to computers, are becoming computer-like. Today’s fastest tablet could go toe-to-toe with a laptop from a few years ago. Same goes for gaming, where we’re actually seeing console-grade graphics in games from a device thinner than 10 millimeters. Even apps have matured to a level where people are doing serious work like image manipulation, video editing, computer aided design and other important things, instead of just flipping through their Twitter feed on a tablet. But there is one solid reason why many of us still need a computer as their primary computing device — Keyboard & Mouse Input.
Tablets were originally introduced as media consumption devices. They replaced computers for some, because those people could do all the things they did on computers, on their tablet. Still, many things are done much faster and better with the combination of a keyboard and a mouse. The fastest typing speeds were achieved on a physical keyboard, not a touchscreen. Using the good ol’ Alt-Tab (or Cmd-Tab) shortcut is faster than shifting between multiple apps on a tablet. And though touchscreens have become fairly accurate since capacitive multi-touch panels, they’re still no match for the accuracy of a mouse. Especially when it comes to precision work, people still prefer the keyboard-mouse combo.
Sure you can use a keyboard on a tablet (even a mouse on Android & Windows tablets), but then congratulations, because in the process you’ve also taken away the one thing that tablets were better at than laptops — portability.
There’s another factor worth considering — although most of you reading this post have grown up using a computer, kids of this generation are probably using a touch-screen device before a typical computer. So one can’t dismiss the chance that the people of the future will be faster on touchscreens, even when it comes to real work.
But till then, we’ll get computers in the market that are also trying to be tablets or tablets that are also trying to be computers. The whole tablets-are-eating-the-PC-market shows a shift towards people buying a tablet over a computer, but I highly doubt how many of those people are going to be satisfied with just that. The iPad surely wasn’t made on an iPad. So while Cook & co. can sell this product as the only thing you ever need, but for the rest of us, it isn’t a very likely scenario. Possibly he was saying it out of desperation; iPad sales have fallen in quarters this year versus the last. The rise of large screened phones (or phablets) also have made the junta question the need of a third device after the phone and computer. Apple’s own 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus is only 2.4 inches smaller than the 7.9-inch iPad mini.
Whatever the reason, it is clear that the tablet isn’t taking over the computer any time soon. Unless the tablet becomes one. All the previous innovative attempts have pretty much failed. Maybe the touchscreen Macbook that was rumoured for years now may change the way the industry looks at things. Or maybe a day will come when slapping a touchscreen on to every computer will become a default rather than a way to upsell a product. What do you think — Can today’s tablet completely satisfy your computing needs?