There is talk in the town, talk of whether to classify tablets as PCs, talk of affording them the same column as computers, of speaking of them in the same breath as notebooks when reporting quarterly sales numbers.
For many these powerful mobile devices provide a perfect balance between the extreme mobility of a smartphone and the intense usability of laptops.
But there are other that still do not think of tablets as replacement device. For them the slates are just not there yet — even the Windows powered ones — where they can offer the same feature set and performance, functionality and familiarity of using the good old PC.
Hardware Almost Surpassed
Let’s take a look at the hardware of most modern tablets. On the more successful ones you often get hardware specifications that are nine miles past what you get on an average desktops or laptops. The recent advancements have resulted in some interesting accomplishments.
I will give you the CPUs and high-end graphic cards on gaming PCs and notebooks, sure. But the display qualities, pixel densities, wireless and cellular capabilities, even gaming performance are way beyond what you will find on most entry level or budget computers — laptops in particular.
I mean, who would have imagined 2560 by 1600 pixel displays on 10-inch devices? Or the tablets being able to offer almost the same level of immersive 3D gaming experience once the domain of computers?
Perhaps the biggest enabler here is volume. Sales volume.
You have tablets moving in millions, tens of millions, even, every year. With sales performances like these, companies can focus on innovating and increasing performance each new generation. The latest multicore chips in tablets can pull off wonders.
The result of this all is that we have either overtaken the hardware capabilities of average computing devices, or are at the cusp of doing so within the next season or two.
Variety In Software
The software front is just as interesting. Maybe even more so. Anyone remember the days of the Windows Mobile Classic operating system? The one before Windows Phone? Well, as a user of that platform I can safely assert that they were some cutting edge devices back in the early 2000s.
This was before the iPhone, the iPod, the iPad, before Android or anything, really.
The trouble, however, was software. Initially at least, users struggled to find worthwhile applications to download or buy for these mobile devices. Keep in mind that these are the days before the mobile revolution, the days before apps were commonplace, and only enthusiasts indulged in all this.
Now though the gap between desktop software and the ones available on tablets is rapidly closing. Where these mobile devices trump the PCs is not in numbers and power, but variety and novelty.
The biggest question, this side of the river, remains the usage habits of a user. Is he or she more into content consumption or creation? There may be billions of users that use desktop computers and laptops at work, school or home. But tablet users also amount to millions upon millions.
Then there are the folks that have made (or are making the transition) to mobile productivity. Writing a blog post on their Lumia 1020, writing their school report on their Surface 2. Crunching numbers on their Android slate, or composing music on their iPad.
All said and done, PCs will still remain the primary devices for intensive computing tasks, designing, writing reports and papers, serious work.
But given a chance, and in due time, tablets will bring most of these functionalities and offer them in a slim and streamlined mobile package. Apple has already tried it on the iPad, Microsoft is busy coding up the Metro Office suite as of this writing for tablets, and other provides are not far behind.
Which brings us to the question of the day.
Have any of your completely replaced your traditional PC with a tablet? Or are you planning to in the near future? Let’s keep smartphones and phablets out of this for now, though.
This could be anything from doing away with Internet browsing on your computer or laptop, multimedia consumption, communication and other such activities. Throw in work and school stuff too. Do you spend more time on your shiny new tablet, than your trusty old PC to create repots and assignments?
Or are tablets still a while away from replacing your computer? Let’s hear it!