The world, it seems, appears to be converging on one single ultimate device. We’ve got Google Glass in the corner, Intel’s Ultrabook specifications trying to take control, and Apple’s ‘Post-PC’ assertions helping tablets to gain mass appeal. Companies like Lenovo and (with less success) HP and Sony are constantly reinventing how we use our computers thanks to Windows 8. If you’re a buyer right now, which one should you pick? Here’s our helpful guide.
Scenario 1: what most people do
There’s a reason that tablets have taken off quite so much: they do all the stuff that most people need them to do a lot faster and more intuitively than a normal PC. Here’s the evidence from Onbile: 84 percent of users use their tablet for gaming, 78 percent for searching for information, 74 percent for emailing, 61 percent for reading the news, 56 percent for checking Facebook and Twitter and 51 percent for listening to music or watching videos. These usage scenarios pretty much encompass what most people use tablets to do. And tablets do these jobs well: 77 percent of tablet owners use their tablets every day, according to HubSpot. If those sorts of things sound like the kinds of things you do, you should probably try out a tablet.
Scenario 2: business
Tablets are pretty big in business right now, with companies like Lenovo developing tablets specifically for business use. According to Forbes, enterprise spending on tablets in 2016 is going to be roughly 8 times what it was in 2011: a compound annual growth of 48 percent. At work, the usage statistics are a little different to how they are in the home: 73 percent of business people browse the web, 69 percent use their tablet for email and 67 percent use it for ‘working remotely’. That last bit might be of interest to you. How easy is it to work remotely using a tablet? Easy, and it’s getting easier. Tablets rule supreme when it comes to locking horns with cloud-based virtualisation platforms. Eighty percent of this year’s software will be cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS), according to Gartner, and a large proportion of that will have some sort of mobile access interface built-in. The only let-downs of tablets seem to be that they lack physical keyboards – but convertible hybrid ultrabooks or innovative approaches such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro may help to deal with that. If you’re in any way mobile, you should probably try out a tablet.
Scenario 3: power users
‘Power users’ are declining in reaction to the growing affordability and miniaturization of high-end hardware. Traditionally a power user was an avid gamer, a coffee-fuelled coder, a media mogul or a stocks enthusiast. These groups still exist, and they’re the ones who need the extra connectivity, the screen real estate, the physical keyboards and the rich desktop OS that tablets can’t quite provide just now. Note that we say ‘quite’. You can already code on a tablet, using your favourite desktop IDE. You can already game beyond anything that consoles currently support. And you can keep more fluidly and efficiently up to date using Rooambi Flow or the Bloomberg app than you can with a static workstation. So, if you’re open-minded, you should probably try out a tablet. If you’re not confident that the platform’s there quite yet, stick with what you know.
If we had written this article six months ago, it would have read very differently. Tablets are an explosive phenomenon, and their meteoric rise doesn’t look to be capped just yet. Eyes to the future, ladies and gentlemen, for whatever is coming next.