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5 Reasons Tablets Suck, and You Won't Buy One 553

Posted by timothy
from the for-some-values-of-you dept.
Crazzaper writes "When the iPad was announced, a lot of people who didn't care about tablets came out to bash Apple's new device. These same people said 'I would have bought it if it had a full OS,' but in reality full OS tablets existed before the iPad rumors even started. This article gives an interesting perspective on why this happened, and argues that there's five big reasons why more powerful tablets exists but no one cares."
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5 Reasons Tablets Suck, and You Won't Buy One

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  • niches (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @04:58PM (#31552028) Homepage

    More powerful = lower battery life. Yes, tablets are niche devices, but if you think about it there are a LOT of niches a tablet with some flexibility and a good amount of battery life can fill. Book reader, obviously. Notepad replacement, somewhat. Inventory control, yup. It's all been a matter of expense, durability, communications and operating life.

  • Tablets suck (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmytheNO@SPAMjwsmythe.com> on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:08PM (#31552126) Homepage Journal

        I agree with the article. Their reasons are pretty good.

        I've owned a couple of tablets (bought from friends who grew tired of them), and worked on a few more. Generally, they do suck. Like it or not, you'll get to a point where you need to type something out, and voila, you wish you had a laptop. Most of the tablets could switch to laptop mode, but who wants to keep flipping their computer around just to be able to type. Eventually, the stylus is stuck in it's holder, and you now have a very expensive, and usually slower, laptop.

        I'm working on a piece of embedded equipment right now, with a touch screen. The interface is absolutely perfect, as long as you're giving a selection of large buttons to push. We even have provisions in our interface for a full QWERTY keyboard for the portions that require that kind of input.

        800x600 on a 8" screen is cute, and wonderful for a 10-key (0-9), but those fun and games go away if I switch away from the specific application. We have a keyboard and mouse attached too. The touch screen is all fun and games, unless you want to do something serious.

        I tried out the PDA fad once upon a time too. You don't realize how much typing is required until you try to send a real email, or ssh to a server. No number of aliased commands made up it. Even from my crackberry, I may send a few paragraphs, since it has a qwerty keyboard, but writing something like this, I wait until I'm at a real computer.

  • well duh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by peragrin (659227) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:08PM (#31552128)

    Windows is not and never has been a tablet OS. a Tablet isn't a desktop, you can't use the two in the same fashion. the pointers are different(fingers/stylus, vs a mouse pointer) You can't just graph touch inputs into a desktop GUI, and expect everything to work right. MSFT has made one decent touch based app, That is why tablets have thus failed. Everyone tries to treat them as notebooks with touch screens, not as tablets with their own gui designs.

    Apple with their sometimes annoying closed systems, are breaking MSFT out of their bad habits. It took 3-4 years but MSFT fianlly realized that putting a desktop Interface on their phones was a bad idea that limited usability. With the Ipad maybe in 5 years MSFT will make a real windows tablet OS, that ditches a wide bar that eats up valuable real estate and come up with a new way to work with tablets. I would say linux might get their first, but Linux devs while innovative seem to have no luck in advertising to manufacturers.

    typing this on my mac, with my Iphone nearby i will say i won't get an ipad, my purpose of a small tablet will be primarily for browsing and unfortunately that will require flash. though someone finally taking a stand against flash is refreshing.

  • see also (Score:2, Interesting)

    by beefubermensch (575927) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:35PM (#31552328) Homepage

    I said pretty much the same things, but much better:

    http://lumma.org/microwave/#2010.02.25 [lumma.org]

    -Carl

  • Wrong... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by pubwvj (1045960) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:44PM (#31552394)

    Actually, I will buy not one, not two, but probably three or maybe even more. The iPad is exactly what I've been needing for 20 years. Great device specs and I'm sure Apple will live up to the hype. I'm also sure that the OS issue will be resolved in time. MacOSX will be on the iPad and Apps will run on the MacOSX (e.g., my laptop). Life just gets better.

  • by ilyag (572316) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:46PM (#31552406)

    I use the tablet to take down mathematical lectures on it. It's very nice for lectures which use tons of math symbols and diagrams, especially because it doesn't clutter up my desk as much. I find it nicer to have tons of files that I almost never look at, than when I had tons of papers I almost never look at, then lost and couldn't find when I did need one.

    However, I can't invent any other use for a tablet PC. If math lectures didn't have diagrams, I'd use Word or LaTeX. Typing is faster than writing on a tablet. Maybe art students have a use for it? Anybody know other uses?

  • Re:niches (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @05:50PM (#31552436)

    The Swiss Army knife is an example of convergence: it has scissors, tweezers, knives, files, screwdrivers, etc. It does nothing perfectly and everything adequately. The iPhone is like that. But if someone got you a "Swiss Army" kitchen utensil, with a spatula and a ladle and tongs and a couple knives in a single sheath, you would think it was the stupidest thing in the world. "And that's why everyone hates the iPad."

    The problem is, Mr. Schell is trying to apply rules but doesn't really understand them at the heart of the matter. It's not just things that fit in our pockets that we want to converge, but items we carry in our daily lives, when we have limited space. Cars and stereo systems don't fit in our pockets, but for some reason cars all have built in stereos. We could all just bring boom boxes with us in the car, but we don't because the benefit of having the stereo there all the time outweighs the duplication and the fact that car stereos are usually not as high of quality due to space and cost concerns.

    Ask college students if they want all their textbooks to converge into a single device, if it can be done so without increasing cost or removing important features. Items like backpacks, luggage, sunglasses, clothing, personal transport, etc. are instances where convergence is desired by the general public. When was the last time you saw a student carrying a laptop case and a separate bag for their books? Those have pretty much converged at this point... but contrary to Mr. Schell's assertion you can't fit either in your pocket.

    Now I don't plan on buying an iPad anytime soon, nor would I venture to guess how successful of a product it is going to be without trying one out. But this sort of overgeneralization as a method of prediction is weak tea.

  • by master_p (608214) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:01PM (#31552532)

    Apple's tablet is different from other tablets so far:

    1. it does not have a user interface that follows the desktop metaphor, which is not appropriate for a tablet.
    2. it has a multitouch interface, unlike other tablets.
    3. it has quite a low price.
    4. it boots way faster than other devices.
    5. it is lighter than other devices.

    For me, the only reason not considering an iPad is lack of Flash support and lack of openness. I think it's on the right path, and if these two are solved, I'll consider buying one.

  • Not at all true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:07PM (#31552580)

    First of all, who said that the iPad is a "convergence" device? It's not meant to replace desktops and laptops (in fact, it requires one!) it's meant to supplement them.

    Secondly, broad generalizations rarely make accurate predictions. This argument makes no sense because it makes no real consideration of the merits and potential uses for the device. As long as it fills an unfilled niche, or works better than existing alternatives it will find success.

    For example, I currently have a laptop, but is it not convenient enough for me to use it as such (It basically sits at home and waits for me to use it there). I do most of my computing on my iPhone. With the iPad, I will be able to access the internet anywhere, and produce documents on the go. So it may be a good fit for me, and I may be able to sell my macbook and buy a mac mini instead. Of course, I'm going to have to hold one in my hands and play with it for a while before I will be willing to shell out $$$ for one.

  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:11PM (#31552616) Homepage Journal

    Let me start by saying that the only Apple device I own right now is an Ipod touch. I'm typing this on a Windows notebook and my big machine is a Windows desktop. I don't have any love for Apple or their policies - they do some things right and some things very, very wrong.

    That said, there's some changes in "books" coming. We've had Kindle and Sony reader for a while and now others are jumping on the bandwagon. As limited as those devices are, they're selling in very large numbers. Kindle is Amazon's number one selling product - that says something, right? As the number of e-readers becomes larger and larger there's more incentive for the publishing houses to make their books available electronically. Between that and the large public domain book libraries available online there's a strong case for electronic books.

    But sitting in a chair at a desktop computer to read books online is awkward - and trying to do it on a notebook is even worse. The Ipod touch is a little better but the screen is too darned small. We like to be able to hold the book and sit / slouch / lay wherever so a tablet-like e-reader is probably the best solution. Unfortunately, the attempts at tablet machines up to this point have been ill-conceived botches. Windows isn't made to be a tablet operating system - its touchscreen support is primitive and incomplete. This and the need of designers to add just one more feature has resulted in fragile yet heavy machines with short battery life - not worth their price.

    Some say that the Ipad is limited - but if what I do is read email, browse the web and play an occasional game or two then it does 99.9% of what I need. Add in music and videos and that slick multi-touch interface and it meets my needs very well. Yes, I know - and when I need to do some serious typing, write some code, etc. I'll sit down at that Windows desktop and go to work. Apple did one more very nice thing - they made a case for the Ipad that opens like a book. This allows you to hold it like a book; same approximate size and weight, just like you're used to.

    I've been watching this electronic book stuff for a while now - and I feel it's time for me to jump. I'll give away / donate my home library (thousands of dusty books) and replace them with an Ipad. Even if it did nothing else it'd be worth the price for just this one function.

  • technologies divert (Score:3, Interesting)

    by e**(i pi)-1 (462311) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:17PM (#31552666) Homepage Journal
    > Convergence doesn't happen. Technologies diverge, for the most part.

    That is exactly the reason why I ordered an iPad. The iPod is great to read nontechnical books, write quick emails or have a glance at news while away from the office. It does not replace the desktop, where I can program, develop, write comfortably, where things are backed up and synced with other computers, where I have reliability and openness of the operating system and complete control, what process is running.

    But I do not like to read technical books on the PC, nor on the iPod. I want to have my library with me, on a different device. I imagine having the iPod in my pocket, write on my laptop and have a tablet as a reference.

    Yes, the interface will be key. The article very well describes why tablet PCs have failed so far: they had crappy, sucking interfaces so far. It does not have to be Apple: also "Courier" from Microsoft looks as if it is going to be a winner: because the interface looks nice. Whether Apple or Microsoft will succeed is not yet clear. It is no question for me that there will be something between a smart phone and a laptop, which will stay to read journals, newspapers, books or articles.

    Divergence will occur also naturally because smart phones and tablets will be locked down pretty heavily. Nobody who minds the future will bet entirely on a platform which is closed. As for a book reader, I do not care as long as it displays PDFs and Djvu files nicely, and in high quality.

  • Re:well duh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by peragrin (659227) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:21PM (#31552682)

    a mouse isn't a keyboard. A mouse isn't a touch based sensor either.

    when working with a mouse, you will not use it in the same manner as you would use a touch input. things like drag and draw respond very differently with a finger as opposed to a mouse and button press.

    Apple understands this. MSFT partially does just no one in charge. There are many types of GUI. one for keyboards one for mice, and one that is yet to be fully embraced for touch based systems.

  • Re:niches (Score:3, Interesting)

    by twidarkling (1537077) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:25PM (#31552714)

    Those have pretty much converged at this point... but contrary to Mr. Schell's assertion you can't fit either in your pocket.

    *parry*
    No, but they are in and of themselves oversized pockets, or in other words, a space where weight and size are more important than pure functionality. If I'm carrying a netbook around already, or a small notebook/laptop, then the iPad needs to be either lighter, smaller, or much more useful than the netbook in order to be worth the space.

    *riposte*
    If my phone has most or all of the same functionality as the iPad, just scaled down, and my netbook covers much of the rest, scaled up, then the iPad is not a device to fit in the "pocket convergence" area. Thus, the generalization does hold.

  • Re:niches (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fjandr (66656) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:31PM (#31552760) Homepage Journal

    Given a comparison between it and discrete component for any one of those uses and it doesn't measure up. In the beginning, it was divergent in that it was designed to do complex calculations that were difficult (and now some that would be impossible for all practical purposes) to perform using current tools. Further development was driven by the leveraged power of persistent two-way network connections, something also divergent from existing technologies. The convergence of a PC has been a result of that leveraged power coupled with the ability to do many things easily, though not nearly so well as using devices dedicated to a specific task.

    Also, the statement was that technologies diverge for the most part. Yes, there are examples that run counter to the vast majority of things, even if this one isn't really one of those examples.

  • by ahankinson (1249646) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:32PM (#31552774)

    You won't get an argument from me - a laptop will definitely do "more."

    The iPad isn't built to do more. In fact, it's almost explicitly designed to do less. I predict it will be a big hit for the people that don't need to do more, but rather do the same thing every day with their computer: read their e-mail, check a few webpages, maybe look at some pictures or watch a movie. About the only thing I can think of that the iPad would do better than a laptop is for reading books.

    Truth is, most people don't need their computers to do more. They just want it to do the things they understand, which is often a very limited subset of tasks.

  • Re:niches (Score:4, Interesting)

    by beelsebob (529313) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @06:43PM (#31552874)

    Yes, but look at consoles... What could a typical console from 1990 do? It could play games. What can an XBox or a PS3 do? It can play games, browse the net, play movies from disks, act as a storage server for your games and movies, play TV over the internet... In fact, one could call a typical games console these days the convergence of a old-word console, a DVD player, a TV receiver, a simple computer for browsing amongst probably many other functions that I don't use daily.

    You're right, most people *don't* use their PC for watching TV, but I would bet that in 10 years time most people *will* use their PC to watch TV. That's because that particular convergence is still in the process of happening.

    The bottom line is that devices both converge and diverge, to suggest that one dominates the other is idiotic, what's ultimately happening is that devices are *evolving* to provide more functionality in less complexity and more usability.

    The iPad will succeed because it does this – it makes a substantial group of tasks possible, and another group significantly easier than previous devices made them.

  • Re:Battery life (Score:2, Interesting)

    by symbolset (646467) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:02PM (#31553054) Journal

    link [labnol.org]. 10 hours battery life playing video, reading books or browsing the Internet on WiFi.

    I like Apple, but I don't think you could consider me a fanboy. I don't do iTunes, own any of their products for myself personally, or really expect to buy any. I like what the stock is doing over the last decade relative to, well, everybody, but I don't hold any. Like I said, I'd prefer an Android slate and would probably wipe and install real Linux on it. If I can't get that, I'll probably muddle along with a Tux'd HP slate before I'd buy an Apple product of any kind. I am however a geek, and I know good tech when I see it.

    Specifically to the point, I follow the trends and I can see us turning the corner on power and utility to the human vs ever increasing clock speeds and cores. ARM derived processors since only just recently have the power to deliver a good and lasting experience in the 12" display form factor on battery. It takes time to design this stuff, and more time to build the business relationships. It can't be an accident that Apple bought an ARM shop when they did and so has this in-house Apple A4 ARM-Cortex processor tech to put in their iPad.

  • Re:niches (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 4iedBandit (133211) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @07:28PM (#31553296) Homepage

    Plus you bought this functionality for the price of lacking half the functionality and freedom of any other smartphone on the market.

    Well considering I paid about $500 for two other smart phones, gray market ones from Japan in fact, and still bought an iPhone before the price was subsidized means one of two things:

    1. I'm stupid, which I'm sure many people will agree with.
    2. The iPhone, despite not having all the features of the other smart phones I owned, did everything I wanted it to do phenomenally better. So much better that paying the unsubsidized cost was not a deterrent.

    Freedom is not merely the possibility to do things. It is the ability to do what I want and do it well.

  • Re:Battery life (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dangitman (862676) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @09:20PM (#31554084)

    But really, when a company puts out a netbook in the form of a tablet, prices it like a netbook

    But if it's in the form of a tablet, then how is it a netbook any longer? It seems to me that the *book designation (see: Powerbook, Notebook) derives from devices that have a folding screen/keyboard form factor. If it is a tablet that doesn't fold, then it's not a netbook anymore, is it?

    Also, what does "pricing it like a netbook" mean? There are netbooks out there that cost more than tablets.

  • Re:Battery life (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daver00 (1336845) on Saturday March 20, 2010 @09:46PM (#31554276)

    Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. None of these are well suited for even stylus based interaction, let alone multitouch.

    I disagree, strongly. Windows Vista has numerous enhancements for stylus input, 7 has even more and they both work well for certain tasks on a stylus machine. I have a convertible hp tablet pc, it has been my primary machine for university for two years now, and for mathematics/engineering, could not be better. The stylus is a marked improvement over the stupid trackpad, vastly more accurate and faster, I pull out the stylus frequently in favour of the trackpad. I could not however, imagine using full blown windows without the keyboard.

    I agree that touch is another story, but the stylus on a small laptop screen is faster/more accurate than the trackpad, and even arguably better than a mouse. The only problem I have is that as a lefty, I can't change the whole OS to display scroll bars on the left hand side of the screen, but at least onenote can do this, and thats my primary pen app anyway.

    IT guys tend not to 'get it' when it comes to tablets, you need to have a real need for handwriting before it makes sense. For me I have that need, and I carry around with me the equivalent of a whole bookcase worth of my notes which I can flick through at my leisure when they are needed. To me a tablet sans stylus makes absolutely no sense, and I'll take my eeepc (5 hrs battery life) over this kind of device anyday.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 20, 2010 @11:41PM (#31554888)

    It's also $1700.

  • by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Saturday March 20, 2010 @11:45PM (#31554912) Homepage

    Think of Apple's "iPad" as a big e-reader, with color and video, and it makes more sense.

    And a touch screen. And an optional keyboard peripheral.

    I see a lot of reductionist views of the iPad and my own take is that these miss the mark. Yeah, I do think it's designed to capture part of the eReader market (not all, since some people will insist on e-ink)... but I think it's also designed to capture part of the netbook market (though not all, because some people will insist on having another OS and more freedom), and part of the portable entertainment market (though not all, because some people don't care what size they're watching video at and/or prefer another gaming platform).

    I see a bet by Apple that there's a spot for a convergence device between all these things. And a lot of commentators who assume they're wrong because it's not superior to each one of those devices in their niche. Particularly on slashdot. Not a surprise: geeks like the idea of clean transitivity. We'll see in a year or two who's right.

  • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @12:17AM (#31555042) Journal
    Your phone probably has more compute power than the cluster of computers that saw men to the moon. Display now really is the problem because processor watts have been beaten by ARM, and storage watts have been beaten by SSD. All that's left is the watts that drive the display. Roughly a billion people need a platform that's online and delivers the ability to participate in the digital economy. The iPad delivers it, at admittedly too high a price for them - but it's a start. We're on our way to welcoming the slumdogs into the online discourse. I, for one, can't wait to hear what they have to say.
  • Re:Battery life (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 21, 2010 @04:59AM (#31555980)

    Nice rant but you're both right.
     
    What apple has done very well is three things: 1) build a closed ecosystem, ensuring lock-in 2) make sure their tech works and 3) make it look good.

    The ipod/iphone is most people's first foray into the apple world. They see it, it looks nice, it works and then they think "if my phone can be this neat, how about my laptop" and when they buy the second device, they're locked into the apple world. Apple also spends a very large amount of time and money making sure things work. 500m developing OSX. Very stringent quality controls on production (just do a job search for apple production jobs).
    Then they also have a very high standard for design. Most companies have their industrial designers a few steps under the operations guy. At apple Jonathan Ive is a star and reports directly to Jobs.

    I bought my first apple for both reasons. I'm techie enough to get my windows machine tweaked to perfection, but I was sick os spending the time necessary to do so. And I like the way my macbook matches my first ipod and my iphone. And I know plenty of people who are similar.

  • Re:Battery life (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 21, 2010 @06:38AM (#31556388)

    Well, the TouchBook's hardware is a bit flimsy and poorly executed:
    http://www.umpcportal.com/2009/08/touchbook-owner-talks-about-build-quality-issues/

    You could take a chance with a very Beta device that is dependent on a custom Linux OS build supported by a small startup company....or...you could buy a solidly built, ergonomic device, with a purpose built OS designed for use via a touch screen, based on a solid OS backed by a very large company which is here to stay.

    I think I vote iPad, which is where I also voted with my hard earned $$

  • Re:Battery life (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drerwk (695572) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @08:22AM (#31556756) Homepage
    I bought my teen a Mac because it takes less of my time to admin, probably a good 12 hours a year less. I use a Mac at work because McAfee is mandated on the Windows machine; a 3 minute svn co on the Mac takes 50 minutes on the Windows machine.
  • Re:Battery life (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:25PM (#31558488)

    My teenage cousins got MacBooks because they don't have to take them to a computer guy regularly for maintenance. Garage Band was important to them as well - one is studying music at university, one musical theatre, and another has a band.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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