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My $200 Laptop Can Beat Your $500 Tablet 789

Roblimo writes "Yes, we know tablets like the iPad are the wave of the future and that PCs and laptops are dead. But some of us see tablets as laptops with their keyboards missing and a few hundred bucks tacked onto the price."
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My $200 Laptop Can Beat Your $500 Tablet

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  • by Sonny Yatsen ( 603655 ) * on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:41AM (#35571744) Journal


    Everywhere I go these days, my friends slam laptops. They tell me my PC of choice is a dying breed and sing the praises of their new, "post-PC" Apple iPad.

    Is it me or does it sound like the writer's friends are just trend-happy followers? I'm around a lot of tech people and I don't know of anyone who crow about how much tablets are going to completely displace PCs or laptops or desktops. I think for most people, the tablet is a nice toy with interesting specific applications, but it's not a replacement for anything. Same thing with all the people who said netbooks were going to displace laptops a few years ago, and the people who said laptops will destroy desktops a few years before that. Didn't happen then, won't happen now.

    Maybe the writer should find less trend-whorey friends.

  • by dskzero ( 960168 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:48AM (#35571862) Homepage
    Of course they are. This isn't even a contest. Different devices for different uses. I use my laptop for writing, programming and the such. I can't use a tablet for that. Conversely, I once was in a conference and saw someone taking notes on an iPad. I couldn't realisticaly pull out my laptop and take notes standing there. Not that I'd buy an iPad anyway, but a cheaper tablet might have its uses: they just can't replace anything seriously.
  • Re:Who thinks this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @09:56AM (#35571986) Journal

    Modern notebooks/netbooks weigh very little. If you put a fancier hinge and a touchscreen layer on a Macbook Air's screen, how much heavier would that make it? Don't forget, almost all laptops use li-ion batteries instead of the much lighter and more space-efficient li-pos.

    The big question is whether it will be a PC-like laptop running a desktop OS, or an Atrix-4G like device, basically a convertible laptop body for a phone, running a less functional OS. It could go either way. Assuming this walled garden fad wears off soon (every walled garden in the history of general-purpose computing has failed so far), I'd say it'll be an Atrix-like device, otherwise it will be a PC-like device. Either way it won't weigh significantly more than a tablet and will be far more useful.

  • Re:Who thinks this? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @10:20AM (#35572368)

    No, the future is both tablets and laptops co-existing for different uses.

    There is very little that a tablet does that a laptop couldn't do. However there are some things a tablet does better than a laptop and many use cases where the extra capabilities of a laptop are unnecessary.

    For example, I use an iPad to run tabletop roleplaying games. A good PDF reader with annotation support takes the place of my library of heavy books, Index Cards is a fabulous writing tool (sort of an IDE for written documents such as books or reports) which integrates with the more powerful Scrivener desktop application, and Notebook does pretty much what it says on the tin (also integrates with it's desktop equivalent). Add in a dice roller, and a virtual tabletop app (I've got 3 of them on my iPad not sure which is best), and the one gadget completely replaces my closet full of gaming supplies. A laptop could do the same, but the tablet form factor is a lot less of a pain at the table, especially if everyone has one since laptops tend to act as a sort of wall that hinders the social aspects of the game while tablets sit flat on the table and can be treated more like books. I can also pass it around more easily to show other players what's on the screen.

    Based on that experience I could easily see an author prefering to use a tablet and external keyboard to a laptop. I've also seen that my iPad is more useful than printed documents, or a laptop for taking notes/reviewing relavent docs during buisness meetings (I can zoom and scroll to see all of the humongus excel sheet but don't give the boss the impression that I'm hiding behind a screen). I've also been able to bring up a relavent website and hand the iPad to the boss thus giving him the information he needed to sound well informed (about details that none of us though to look up prior to the meeting) during a conference call. That would have been possible but more awkward with a laptop.

    I also use an iPad when demoing some software products at trade shows (smart phone apps and web apps). The large screen allows me to show a larger audience the interface of an iPhone app, and the simple sleek designs just looks better in the booth than a laprop would.

    I would never try to write non-trivial code on my iPad (I have a decent text editor with syntax highlighting, and an ssh client, but without the ability to debug locally it's not going to do the job as well as my macbook or my dell desktop on anything more complex than a lua script or a chunk of html). And with no hardware ports other than the dock conenctor it wouldn't be partuclary useful for network troubleshooting (except in trivial cases like checking if the wireless is down). But frankly as a "Software Developer and Liaison" most of what I need a portable device for the iPad is better than a laptop . I do my coding in the office, when I'm on the move I need to be able to show documents, and not get left behind packing up a laptop when the suites decide to leave for the bar. For that a tablet is better than a laptop.

    Convertibles combine the weaknesses of laptops with only some of the advantages of tablets. In the end if a tablet os good your your use case than you're better off getting a tablet than a convertible, and if a laptop is betetr for your use case than you're better off no paying for the touch screen and making due with the more limited variety on the convertible.

  • Re:Who thinks this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Duradin ( 1261418 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @10:32AM (#35572584)

    A long time ago when getting prepared for hiking at Philmont someone told me "By the end of the day an ounce will feel like a pound."

    At first, we laughed at the nuts who cut the handles down on their toothbrushes. After a week we wished we had done so as well.

    A a few pounds difference may not be noticeable during your basement to kitchen table commute but for others ounces can make it more comfortable to carry.

  • Re:Table. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by intheshelter ( 906917 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @10:49AM (#35572866)

    Actually a tablet can be used for creating and consuming. 5 minutes on the Apple site shows that very clearly. As to whether "there's nothing that you do with an iPad that you couldn't do on a laptop", while that is (mostly) true, how is that relevant? I could easily say "there's nothing that you do with a laptop that you couldn't do on a desktop" and it would have just as much relevance (none!) to the discussion.

  • Re:Table. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by khr ( 708262 ) <> on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @11:49AM (#35573904) Homepage

    The iPad was introduced as a revolutionary device that covers the space between a phone and a laptop. In reality is a device that's not appropriate for either purpose, with non or little actual space to cover in between (at least for the moment). If you really think about it, there's nothing that you do with an iPad that you couldn't do on a laptop. By extension I think this applies to any kind of tablet.

    You're right, in terms of function there's really not much you can do with a tablet you can't do with a laptop, and a tabet isn't really a phone or a laptop...

    But where a tablet is nice, is doing some of the same functions with a different form factor. Like someone else pointed out above somewhere, I can take my tablet on the subway and read things on it, where I'd find it extremely difficult to do the same with a laptop, especially if I'm stuck standing, holding on with one hand.

    It's nice, too, that it's a well sealed package, so if I take it to a restaurant, I can use it without worrying about getting food or drink in the keyboard.

    It's a better tool for some uses than a laptop.

  • Re:Who thinks this? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StuartHankins ( 1020819 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @11:55AM (#35574014)
    For some non-zero use cases, the Apple iPad is the best available device. So long as this remains non-zero, some people will be buying it for those uses.

    But the far more interesting question is, "Why does it matter if they just want it, rather than need it?". If there were limited supply, and owning one meant taking it away from someone who needed it, I could see your point.

    And as far as your comment goes about paying anything for Apple products, so what? Apple attracts not just people who are attracted to the design, but also those who need a reliable piece of tech to fulfill a need. That's why it's news whenever there's a problem, it's unusual. It's not a news article when another commodity PC craps out, or when Windows bluescreens or reboots, but in the Apple world it's news. Until Apple products become as virus-prone, until the user experience drops to the non-Apple level, until the hardware becomes as troublesome as the rest of the market, Apple will remain on top. Some of us will pay for that.
  • Re:Table. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mscman ( 1102471 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @12:21PM (#35574414)
    Why do you get to decide what's a "justifiable use"? I like to use my iPad as a browser on the couch, and to check email. I find that if I'm sitting in front of the TV, I'd rather not sit with my laptop all the time. I also find my iPhone a little too small for viewing when I have the option of a larger screen. As for an e-reader, I prefer the iPad because I'm not locked into a single store for books; I can buy from the Kindle, Nook, Borders, and Apple stores, among others. I do have a "wider variety of devices" but the tablet fits certain use cases that I have. Don't think that "justifiable uses" fit everyone.
  • Re:Table. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 @12:27PM (#35574510) Homepage Journal

    The iPad does give you a nice user experience, if all you basically want to do is consume. However if you want to do anything more than play with a toy, you may need something different.

    I'm afraid you don't get what Steve Jobs does: Most people today and certainly the vast majority in the iPad target audience, already have a computer. You can try selling them a new one, or you can sell them a totally new device that satisfies needs that their existing machine doesn't.

    Take me, for example. I'll be buying an iPad 2 when it comes out this week in my country, even though I already have two computers in this house, and my girlfriend has another two, and two out of those four are a notebook and a netbook. But none of them allow me to lie down on the couch and ready a PDF book comfortably. Or take with me when I go on a trip in much the same way I'd take a book.

    It's not a pressing issue - if I had to build my household from scratch, a computer would come first, long before a tablet, but neither is a tablet simply a notebook without keyboard. Whoever writes that disqualifies himself from the discussion as not having understood a thing about why the iPad sells as quickly as the factories can make 'em.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!