Let’s Hear It: Have Tablets Finally Become Replacement Devices?

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.

Usage Habits

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!

  • 1stkorean

    “Are tablets still a while away from replacing your computer?” YES
    I have a very powerful desktop with 3 30″ monitors attached to it running Windows 7, my laptop is equally powerful sporting Windows 8.1. I have an original Surface Pro that I like a lot, BUT, primarily use it when on the go and my laptop is to much to drag out. On an 11 hour flight from Seoul to San Francisco the Surface is ideal since it fits nicely on the tray table.
    When laptops became powerful enough to become a desktop replacement, I tried replacing my desktop with my laptop and couldn’t, I was still drawn to that desktop to do a lot of resource intensive work and frankly still am.
    Maybe I am to attached to my desktop and laptop and have not given my tablet a chance, but I still see it being a long time before a tablet replaces my desktop or laptop. When I pack for a trip I pack laptop and tablet in my backpack and we’re off to the friendly skies usually…

  • StopDeletingArnold

    Again, another bang out article by Mr. Fahad Ali. Good stuff bro. I have for the most part cut down a great deal of usage of a “traditional” PC by using my Asus Vivo tab RT machine. Thats right RT. Now it is still a ways off from completely replacing the traditional PC but if anyone of the top three Google, Apple or Microsoft are heading in the right direction is Microsoft. Why??? Because the technology that is used to develop windows apps can tie back easier to the technology that created apps from 10-20 years ago. Meaning Microsoft has an opportunity once the applications start rolling to have an ecosystem larger than anything apple or google can imagine, Only they can literally have an app store consisting of Billions of apps not millions but billions. And their approach to the user interface regardless of what some fake clueless analyst and tech journalist say is better and will enable the user to utilize this ecosystem to its fullest potential.

    Now to classify these devices as PC’s???….The word PC stands for Personal Computer…what can be more personal than a phone or tablet?

  • donotdelete

    Again, another bang out article by Mr. Fahad Ali. Good stuff bro. I have for the most part cut down a great deal of usage of a “traditional” PC by using my Asus Vivo tab RT machine. Thats right RT. Now it is still a ways off from completely replacing the traditional PC but if anyone of the top three Google, Apple or Microsoft are heading in the right direction is Microsoft. Why??? Because the technology that is used to develop windows apps can tie back easier to the technology that created apps from 10-20 years ago. Meaning Microsoft has an opportunity once the applications start rolling to have an ecosystem larger than anything apple or google can imagine, Only they can literally have an app store consisting of Billions of apps not millions but billions. And their approach to the user interface will enable the user to utilize this ecosystem to its fullest potential.

    Now to classify these devices as PC’s???….The word PC stands for Personal Computer…what can be more personal than a phone or tablet?

    • donotdelete

      Nothing I say is derogatory, So stop deleting

    • Jason Deveau

      I think Google and Apple will never fill the desktop or laptop void with iPad or Chrome book. Because both reject classic applications. Lack good full office software, and FULL web browsers … plugins and all. Microsoft is the one to put all the pieces together with Surface 2 and Windows 8.1. When connected to a large display via the mini HDMI port, and wireless USB Keyboard & Mouse combo, BY far comes closest to filling the desktops function. Yank out the plugs and hey its still a tablet!

  • WillyThePooh

    Win7 desktop only occupies about 5% of my time right now. 30% spent on my win8.1 laptop. The rest 65% on my Surface RT. As I am not ready to move those programs on win7 to win8, I will keep my desktop for quite a while.

  • Rikikrik

    Tablets only fill a void, the void that could not be filled by PC’s. Play and work on the go and home entertainment, that’s where tablets have a function. When it comes to real computing, there is no alternative than the PC or desktop. W8 tablet PC comes the closest to a real PC, but falls short in certain categories.

  • golddust34

    I put together a newsletter and I couldn’t possibly do it without my 24 inch monitor – the tiny screen of a tablet would make it impossible. Long live the desktop computer!!!

    • Jason Deveau

      I agree…..BUT Surface 2 does have a dock right? and alternatively, a mini HDMI out?

  • Chris

    I think they have become replacement devices. My wife and I both got Surfaces for Christmas. Not Surface Pros either. I have probably turned on my desktop 10 times since then, in what 27 days?

    I understand that many people need desktops/laptops for x86 program work, etc. I usually do too, that is why I am even more an advocate of the tablet takeover after using it in that capacity over the last month.

    • Bart

      The Surface 2 now that it has Outlook does everything needed in a tablet but without being the full Win 8.1 it would be short of a desktop replacement for most people.

  • Bart

    Not yet but tablets are getting closer. For me I could replace my desktop with a tablet provided it has a i5 or i7 Quad core processor, support at least 8 to 16 GB RAM preferably upgradeable, at least a 256 GB SSD, keyboard included and close to $1000.

    Now the key for me on replacing the desktop with the proper performance is the ability to use a USB or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and plug into 1 or 2 24″ monitors while at my desk. For more storage an external drive is fine since it wouldn’t be needed for general carry around.