Well the silly season is almost on us. That time when we all run around like headless chickens desperately looking for stuff to buy for people who don’t really need more stuff. It’s like some sort of insane rain dance. I swear if aliens landed tomorrow they’d die of laughter, not bacteria. We spend all that money for *what…*?
Anyway, in honor of the oncoming fervor, we’re going to offer our own seasonal advice to help folks make the right kind of buying choice this year instead of just following the herd. So here’s our top ten reasons for NOT buying a tablet computer.
(Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
1. They’re actually not very good computers
When you get right down to it tablet computers really can’t cut it in the computing game. They’re typically way too under powered to process really cool stuff like video editing or number crunching, they don’t have enough storage to hold all of your growing collection of hamster photos, and they lack the most basic input systems like keyboards and mice for navigating sophisticated programs. As a photo viewer, or watching a *short* movie until the battery runs out (see 3) they’re great. As an actual real live, let’s get things done computer, they suck. Big time.
2. A decent smartphone is just as useful
With the increasing power and screen size of Android smartphones, you’re actually not getting much more functionality with a tablet than with a phone. Sure if you go to 10.1 inch screens, you’ll be getting more eye candy real estate, but it comes at a cost (and not just purchase price – more on that later). Phones contain really good GPS, WiFi, microSD storage and crucially 3/4G roaming, which makes them more than a match for just about every tablet. And even when you add 3G onto a tablet, you’ll often find that for some reason it’s not as reliable as a phone. Go figure.
3. The battery life sucks
No really, tablet computers are supposed to offer great battery life, but if you actually try and do anything serious with them, like play games for extended periods, guess what? The battery life disappears faster than a hamster with a hacksaw. The fact is you simply can’t cram a big enough battery into that slimline form factor without something suffering big time. And in this case it’s battery big time.
4. Laptops do it better
Look around. They may be slightly more expensive, but skinny gorgeous laptops are available everywhere right now. They’re sleek, lightweight, come with keyboards, massive storage, and some, like the Lenovo Yoga even feature touchscreen coolness so you can mix and match between tablet and PC functionality. And what’s more they’ll cope with everything you throw at them, from stonking great PC games to heavy duty Photoshop work. There’s a reason everyone still keeps a laptop as their main working machine.
5. Where’s the focus?
When it comes right down to it tablet computers don’t really have a comfortable role, apart from looking good in Starbucks, and even that’s getting old nowadays. So you can view photos on them, or listen to music or even check your email, but are these tasks solely for tablet users? Nope, I can do that and more (Hi Ma, just calling to check if my laundry’s ready…) on a phone. When it comes right down to it, surveys point to the fact that the main use of a tablet is to check TV program times from your couch. Wow, amazing! Not.
6. They’re uncomfortable
Whichever way you look at it, tablet computers are just downright unwieldy. Even the smallest ones are too big for pant pockets, and just forget about the 10 inchers. So what do you do? If you’re a lady, you pop them in your bag, but for men it’s either a matter of carrying them around in some sort of case like a laptop, or stuffing them into whatever excuse for a plastic bag you happen to have with you at the time. And heaven forbid it rains.
7. It’s yet another obsolescence trap
Buying a tablet means you’re adding yet another decomposing pile of plastic and metal into your life. You know the thing will depreciate 50% in price by the time you get the wrapping off and open the box, and things only go downhill from there. Try selling one on eBay when you want to upgrade, good luck with that. Even the most majestic of iPad products will only fetch a fraction of their day one price when you come to sell. The marketing guys must love us mugs, because we keep ponying up the cash for their relentless stream of landfill fodder. What a game.
8. The delicate insanity of endless charging
Do you ever feel like you’re a slave to all your chargers? I do. Most of us know the symptoms, it’s that sudden ‘midnight in bed, just dozing off to sleep’ terror that you forgot to plug one or more of your devices into the power socket before retiring. And it’s all the way at the other end of the house or apartment, and it’s dark and cold and…yeah right. I’m actually not sure how many more charging demands our brain can cope with, but I’ve got a suspicion that once we reach a particular number, our synapses will shatter and we’ll suffer collective charger maintenance overload and that will be that.
9. They’re a total rip off
Oh now come on, deep down we all know that really a tablet computer costs next to nothing to make. After all what is it? A tiny motherboard, a battery and a mass produced Shenzhen screen. That’s it. If they can sell laptops with keyboards, hard drives, expandable memory and all the rest for $300, what on earth makes a 7 or 10 inch tablet worth the same kind of price? Really? Just think about it for a second. These guys are laughing all the way to their offshore bank accounts.
10. They’re not cool
Yeah there was a time a year or so ago, when strolling into your local cafe or hostel with a slick looking tablet under your arm was something to impress an audience, but man those times have long gone. Now people either assume you’re some posing hipster or they feel sad that you’re so short sighted you need that size of screen on your phone. It’s a no-win situation. And it’s not as though you can hide the thing in your pocket either (see 6).
So, if you’re seriously considering getting yourself a new toy to play with this holiday, do yourself a favor and skip the obvious. Ditto if you’re thinking of buying one for your significant other. They may say that’s what they really want, but trust us, within 3 months the thing will be sitting in a drawer somewhere (or down the back of the couch) gathering dust with a flat battery and a ketchup smeared screen.
Oh sure they may get dragged out every few months, when a new app gets advertised which looks cool, but soon enough the charging hassle will get in the way, and they’ll get discarded again in some hidden nook or cranny.
This has been a public service announcement. Sound off in the comments if you agree or disagree, we’re all open minded folk around here.