If you think back to the state-of-the-art computers of the 1990s, they look very different from the devices that a lot of us take for granted today.
At that point, computers were huge pieces of machinery. Today, you can purchase a device like an iPhone that fits in your pocket and literally has more computing power than the equipment that was used to send men to the moon in the 1960s. You no longer have to pick between a desktop and a laptop. You now have smartphones, tablets and more – all of which are designed to fit very precise use cases depending on your needs.
Of course, this demands the question – can a tablet like the iPad actually ever replace a computer? Or is it simply a device for content consumption and not productivity? The answers to those questions require you to keep a few key things in mind.
The State of the Modern Tablet
Whether a tablet can actually replace a computer in your life depends largely on how you plan on using it in the first place.
If you’re just looking for something that will let you browse your favorite websites, check the occasional email or read that great new book you just downloaded, a tablet would actually be preferable. It’s smaller, lighter and infinitely more portable than even some of the slimmest laptops out there. It will also probably come with longer battery life as well, making it great for traveling in particular.
Of course, this is talking mostly about the "entry level" tablets. If you are looking for a device that you can take with you wherever you are and still get work done, you would want to upgrade to something like the Microsoft Surface Pro or iPad Pro. As the names suggest, these are devices designed with heavy workloads in mind. There are also a variety of accessories that are available for Apple tablets in particular that add keyboard functionality and more.
When the concept of the tablet was first ready for public consumption, it was largely an "entertainment" device. It was fun, but you would probably be more likely to use it to watch your favorite movie on Netflix than you would be to make progress on that serious project you have for work. Now, the gap between these two devices has closed to the point where it is possible to choose one or the other – but in the case of the tablet, it will likely cost you.
Yes, you can buy an attachable keyboard for something like the iPad. Yes, you can get screen sizes that are in excess of 12 inches – making them not too dissimilar to a laptop at this point. If that works for your workflow, that’s fine – but you can typically find traditional laptops with comparable features for cheaper. But again, you have to look inward to determine which type of device makes the most sense for what you’re trying to accomplish.