With the recent launch of iPad Pro with a whopping screen size of 12.9 inches, it is quite difficult to ignore the question that many have been asking; can tablets finally replace a laptop?
The evolution of computers tells us that the earliest computers used by humans for personal use were the size of a room which then, thanks to Apple, Microsoft and others, were shrunk to the size of desktop computers as we know it. Also, as the name suggests, desktops comfortable sat on a table. Then arrived the laptops, portable and lightweight compared to desktops, they revolutionized computing. Executives carried them around to their business meetings and offices became less cluttered with the use of laptops instead of bulky desktops that comprised of multiple units.
The tablets would seem like the next obvious step after laptop. In fact, Apple in its recent keynote address while launching the new iPad Pro claimed that the new iPad has faster processing performance than 80% of the laptops out there. And, it comes with an optional keyboard similar to Microsoft’s Surface. However, this does not translate to better productivity and tablets like iPad Pro replacing laptops anytime soon. The following are the reasons why tablets will not replace laptops.
Content creation vs. consumption
Laptops are ideally made to create content such as text-based documents, blogs, create and edit videos, graphic designs, art work and so on, whereas, tablets are ideally created to consume content such as reading online magazines through apps and on websites, browse through the web or do light blogging. Tablets could be as powerful as top notch laptop machines but the lack of multi-tasking capabilities and hardware, laptops will always be better than laptops for performing serious work. Of course, tablets could be configured to act like a laptop with additional accessories such as keyboards and other input devices, but, such extensive additions make it expensive and even then, the small size of tablets and accessories will always act as a limiting factor. It’s like putting the engine of a Ferrari in a beetle and expect it to perform like the super sports car.
Operating System Ecosystem of tablets vs. laptops
With the exception of Microsoft Surface and other Windows-based tablets, which run full version of Microsoft Windows 8 and upwards, most tablets have an inferior version of OS compared to its parent operating system. For example, iOS is a trimmed down version of OSX and has limitations. Similarly, Android OS may have thousands of productivity apps including Microsoft Word but it will never support the full version of Microsoft Word with all features that you get to use on a laptop. Moreover, creating a complex word or excel document on an iOS system and then editing it using Microsoft Office on a Windows-based tablet will often result in formatting errors and issues. Although iTunes has Microsoft Office app for iOS devices but it does not support some of the most widely used features of Microsoft Office run in a standard laptop ecosystem.
Usability of laptop vs. tablet
Just the way serious graphics and animation work are still done on old and big desktop monitors for best outcome, laptop is still the best device to type away those long blogs or for doing everyday office tasks using office suites. Input devices such as keyboard, touchpad of laptops are way convenient than the cramped accessories that we buy for tablets. Moreover, what comes as standard in laptops (input devices) come at additional cost for tablets. Why would you spend so much on a tablet just to make it act like a laptop when you can get the latter at a lower price with added convenience?