The Tablet computer form factor is already over a decade old, but only since a year they are the talk of the town and we hear the wildest stories. Some say they will replace the PC as we know it, while others claim they are just temporary because the mobile phone will eventually dominate and take over the tablets tasks.
For more than a year I'm using a tablet computer and it hasn't replaced anything yet, it just changed my who computing behavior. I'm using the full range of computing devices, from smartphone, tablet, laptop to a desktop computer and each of them has their specific usage and I don't want to miss any of them.
Just consider a typical day. I get up in the morning and want to know what is going on in the world. At breakfast I grab my tablet and browse the news, check if there is important mail, scroll down some tweets and catch up with some overnight news from my RSS feeds. After breakfast I go to work, this can be in my home office, in a shared office or going to an external meeting.
In the home office I've proper desk, a good chair and a big screen desktop computer. Working from home requires me to virtually collaborate with others meaning video chats, sharing screens, co-editing documents and making notes all at the same time. The current setup is good for my sometimes trouble some back and provides heaps of screen real estate.
In a shared office it depends on the expected activities and duration of the trip. When I expect a full day of collaborative content creation (e.g. preparing a presentation, or writing a plan) I bring a laptop. However if I only expect a few hours of brainstorm, and only limited note taking is require I bring a tablet. This is the only area where I notice a blurring between the two devices and sometimes I even bring both. I'm not yet seeing developments solving this issue, unless someone can build a 12" convertible laptop, that is half the thickness of a Macbook Air, weights less than 2 pounds, has a 12 hour battery life and boots in less than a second.
When going to an external meeting I predominantly bring a tablet computer. The only reason for bringing a laptop is when I need to do a presentation and I prefer to be rather safe than sorry and don't want to rely on external supplied hardware. The tablet is good enough for taking notes and made it possible to skip carrying an ugly laptop bag when traveling. All I carry is the tablet because I don't needs anything else.
At the end of the day I just want to relax and while watching a movie I might pick up the tablet to check out some movie stats, or during commercial breaks browse some other news, stumble upon some websites, etc. It's a floating device, it doesn't have a place and that makes it so differentiating from the other devices. You phone is in your pocket, your laptop in your bag and you desktop on your desk. You tablet is where you are!
Living with so many devices also brings new challenges. The devices and their used software are all in different stages of their maturity and aren't equal in capabilities. This is why there is so much future of the cloud and cloud application, because it reduces the dependencies on software on the various platforms. All you need is either a web browser on the device or a device specific client connecting all to the same central cloud based information storage. This allows me to take notes on a tablet and process them into a document in my office on a desktop computer without having to transfer or synchronize any information.
I was inspired to write this article based on Microsoft's WPC announcement that tablets are PCs, but so far I haven't had the need to connect to networks (other than the internet), using USB drives, to print and using Office. Tablets today connect to the internet (the reason why I do have a 3G capable tablet) and the internet allows me to access cloud storage and print. I don't created full featured co-authored documents and presentations on a tablet, but make only notes instead and there are many note taking solutions with a central over the internet accessible datastorage. May be I'm just not looking a head far enough and in a years time when Windows 8 powered tablets are available my world has changed.
How do you use your tablet, leave a comment below