The Problem With Tablets (and an Alternative)
While using my tablet moments ago, I had an idea for a blogpost.
Good deal. It’s been a while. I’d like to get back to blogging. So I put the tablet down, and picked up my MacBook Air (buy an ASUS Zenbook, folks: they weren’t out when I absolutely needed an ultra thin, ultra powerful computer, and I regret not waiting. But that’s neither here nor there). Since I was planning on writing a blogpost, I needed to find some way to do it that wouldn’t absorb more focus and energy than the content of the post itself.
And therein lies the problem with tablets: content generation. Tablets are excellent for content consumption: nowadays, I read blogs almost exclusively through my aging Acer Iconia A500. But when it comes to actually doing something worth doing – becoming a producer instead of a consumer — the A500 is worthless to me.
I’ve never really understood the iPad and why people buy them. They’re certainly great for playing iPhone games on a larger screen, or browsing the web (as long as you don’t need flash, which is a huge chunk of the web nowadays), or reading books. But when’s the last time you saw someone with an iPad using a docking keyboard? One gets the sense from the way they’re marketed that the iPad is this stand-alone device, suitable for all of your basic computing needs while lounging at home, or at the beach. Certainly, there are keyboards out there for my A500, but they’re put out into the market as an afterthought.
Try writing on a keyboardless iPad (or any tablet for that matter) while you’re sitting in a chair or on the couch. Try responding to that latest email, without feeling like a seven-year-old learning to type all over again. Try mastering the angle at which you need to hold it on your lap, all while attempting to maintain fluency of thought. Typing shouldn’t be this difficult. You shouldn’t have to watch your hands. Even with the iPhone, I pay no attention to my thumbs, but that’s because I can get a solid viewing angle on the smaller screen. The iPhone is ergonomically perfect, but the iPad makes me feel like flinging the thing across the room.
The bottom line: the iPad is, like many of its competitors, a broken idea because of how it hampers your ability to produce content.
The ASUS Transformer Prime was never meant to be a standalone device. You can, of course, simply pick up the tablet and browse, but ASUS seems to have acknowledged the inherent problem with tablets by putting great emphasis on the keyboard itself. With the pending release of the T700, ASUS brings hardware comparable to the iPad, though it remains to be seen whether the quality and clarity of the screen matches the Apple giant. The app selection won’t be as great, but I have yet to find something on the iStore I couldn’t find in Android’s alternative. Also, since the keyboard’s extra, you’ll also likely end up paying more for the Prime.
Now, why write this post to begin with?
It certainly isn’t to bash the iPad, which is great at what it does. But if you’re in the market for a tablet, I think it’s valuable to ask yourself what you expect to get out of it. If you’re satisfied with consumption, consider the iPad. But if you want more usability, think Transformer.