For the last year we've all been talking about tablets. They've been the technology of the moment for some considerable time now and their appeal doesn't seem to be diminishing. It's still been the case though that we're just not seeing tablets being used out and about in cafes and on trains in the way people use laptops or netbooks. In the last couple of weeks though I've seen two iPads being used while out on my travels, the most recent being the most interesting.
First I'd like to tell you of my own opinions of using a tablet computer when out and about. While a tablet might not be the ideal form factor for the way we've all become accustomed to working in the last few years, nay decades, all I can now see are people carrying unnecessarily large and heavy computer equipment when all they want to do with it are a few basic and simple tasks.
Only yesterday I took several train journeys to travel to the medieval city of York to give a talk on Windows 7 and I saw people crammed into airline seats on the train with a laptop, protruding at an odd angle, propped up slightly on one knee as the person using it sat awkwardly slightly to one side as the seat didn't offer the space to sit the machine in front of you that would have been better.
Even those people sat at tables on the train had hulking great devices that took up all the table space that they really wanted to be using for their coffee, sandwich and the evening paper.
Then however I spotted something different. This was a man sat using an iPad, nothing unusual in that you might think. This tablet was supported vertically in a dock however with a bluetooth Apple keyboard sat stylishly in front of it. Your attention was drawn to this partly because of the beauty and elegance of such a setup, but also because it was so unusual.
I, being a tech author and a Windows 7 tablet user, sat across from the man with my ExoPC and he sat working on whatever he was doing, merrily typing away while I struggled to get my 3G connection to work reliably at high speeds.
Eventually we got chatting about tablets and technology. He wasn't a technologically in-the-know person but was happy that the iPad made things simple for him to use. He spent a lot of time travelling on trains every week he told me, and for this the tablet was ideal being (even with the dock and extra keyboard) less than half the size of an equivalent laptop and about a quarter of the weight.
He could use a decent-sized screen and a full-size keyboard and just stick them away in a bag as he approached his destination, instant on and instant off.
Then came the all important question, I stumbled over this slightly trying not to appear impertinent. "If you don't mind me asking, you've got that all set up and are using it in a way that implies it's your only computer."
The answer was clear, swift and decisive. It was! He almost seemed to take pride in telling me that his desktop PC at home hadn't been switched on in almost six months. Why would he need to, he could do everything he wanted on this tablet device and it worked far more effectively than his PC ever could.
This is a man who had clearly seen the advantages of the tablet, and seen them all. More importantly he'd admitted to not knowing the first thing about technology except how to recognise a good thing when it came along. He was absolutely delighted with his iPad and there was, frankly, no going back to the old way of doing things now.
This isn't an argument of the benefits of the iPad as a device over a laptop or a desktop PC, no. It's also not an argument of the benefits of an iPad over my ExoPC Slate. This is an argument of the tablet form factor and the benefits of the, all too long overdue, system on a chip computers that we are lucky to have today.
On this train was the first non-technical person I had met who had embraced the tablet fully and who, more importantly, was using it to its full potential.
You might wonder why I found this so surprising. Well, when you think about it the tablets that we have today have only been with us for a single year and I had fully expected that it would take much longer, three to four years in fact, before we got to this stage and people began swapping their desktop computing life for one that was embedded and sometimes even pocketable.
The fact that I'm already meeting people who are switching their lives came as something of a surprise, especially given that it's still uncommon to see somebody using a tablet out and about.
This is nothing more than vindication of the worthiness of the current tablet market and absolute proof that it's here to stay and will ultimately cause the death of the home computing market almost completely. Within a couple of years the sales of desktop PCs outside of business will have slumped significantly with hard-core gamers making up more than half of all home PC sales.
Sales of laptops and netbooks will also slump so its no surprise that every major computer manufacturer is jumping on the tablet bandwagon. They can see which way the wind is blowing and if they're going to keep trading when the world is changing so quickly and so dramatically around them, they have to.Advertisement
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.