Comparing the Technologies
There has been a lot of talk recently about tablet pc’s and how they are going to take over the computer market. While this very well may be the case I am going to write a brief comparison of the two, in an attempt to find which device is better for the average user and for the person looking at it for work. For the sake of this argument tablet pc’s refer to ant computer that has a touch screen but no keyboard (yes I know that they sell external keyboards but that invalidates the point of buying the tablet over a netbook) while desktop pc is a computer that has a separate keyboard. I will endeavor to keep it as fair as possible by selecting the device from each category that is most beneficial so the results do not reflect any one device but rather the best that the sub type has to offer.
To start I am going to have categories from which each will compete they are in no particular order of importance but they are all aspects to look at when buying a new device. They are as follows
1. Internet Browsing
2. Internet Editing (blog’s editorials etc)
3. Word processing
4. Desktop navigation
5. Screen size
6. Processing power
8. Power usage
9. Overall size
10. Multimedia playback
After these comparisons I will give my thoughts on the subject and how I came to my conclusion
Pros. Internet browsing on a tablet is very intuitive and fast (if you have one of the faster tablets) the content displays neatly and you can literally tap links to get to the content you want. They play most content and can even come with WWAN to brown on the go.
Cons. Some devices feel very slow for browsing. Not ALL content is supported. Typing an exact url can take a while (more on typing later)
Pros. Internet browsing on a desktop is the standard that tablets are based upon so browsing on any desktop should yield fairly average experience not much has changed
Cons. Touch screen not standard on many desktops though some mobile desktops (laptops and netbooks) now offer this feature
Pros. Internet editing on a tablet can be great for social networking and commenting on others blogs. Many sites have mobile sites that load much faster.
Cons. Typing long paragraphs or extended content becomes difficult on tablets as the screen becomes smaller than it already is and typing is difficult (more on that in a sec)
Pros. Much easier to type and edit larger projects (ie. Creating new sites or large blogs or text inputs)
Cons. Not as convenient to carry around for social networking ( some netbooks are rather small but still require somewhere to set down)
Pros. Unfortunately this is one place that I cannot recommend a tablet
Cons. The screen becomes smaller and the touch keyboard is tiny. For people who type from home row there is no way to re-center your fingers and no way to know what keys your fingers are on. It basically turns everyone into a hunt and peck two finger typer regardless of how you normally type.
Pros. With an actual physical keyboard better software and better screen sizes the desktop model of computers wins hands down for word processing.
Cons. Most desktop style computers are heavy to carry around (i.e. laptops) and netbooks have the same issue with the small screens and keyboards (but it is still a real keyboard and it doesn’t take part of your screen)
Pros. Desktop Navigation is great on a tablet and extremely intuitive to open different apps and navigate in between them.
Cons. Changing settings can be difficult and there is limited changes you can make from the stock settings
Pros. While desktop navigation varies between different operating systems in general they are fairly intuitive.
Cons. Depending on os there can be too many different settings and menus to change and mess up and features can be buried where you might not think they should be.
Pros. The screen size on tablets can range from a diminutive 7 inches, to around 12 inches. They are in general crisp and easy to read and have the benefit of automatically shifting when you tip the device.
Cons. Though they are easy to read the only desktop type computers with that small of screen are netbooks. And people complain that those are too small. However making the tablet screen bigger defeats the purpose of having the tablet for mobility (kind of a catch 22)
Pros. Screen Sizes on desktops is not nearly as big of an issue as it is with tablets as some laptops come with screens as big as 19 inches or as small as 7 inches (for early netbooks)
Cons. With bigger screens comes more weight and battery usage. Not all screens are created with the same quality as others.
Pros. Processing Power on tablets is a little lacking, that said Smaller processors mean longer battery life that in turn make it so you can stay on the device all day with no problems.
Cons. Not going to be crunching large amounts of data on these things. That might be changing as a few manufactures are planning on putting core i5’s into a tablet
Desktop: to be fair the desktop computers (especially tower pc’s) have processing power well beyond what the little tablets can offer (even the venerable i5 tablets that will be coming out)
Cons. Some of the devices that are the same size as comparative tablets can have lower processing power. More power in general means more power consumption.
Pros. Some manufactures have programs that are interchangeable.
Cons. The majority of applications for tablets are only for tablets. As the release of windows 8 gets nearer that might change a little.
Pros. The OS choices for desktops have been for the most part the same for many years and have backwards compatibility with thousands of programs.
Cons. compatibility between those OS’s are hit and miss as there is no universal OS
Pros. The overall power usage on tablets is very small compared to the consumption of most desktops
Cons. As manufactures put in more powerful processors (just like Tim Taylor people always need more power) The battery life is going to decline and come back down to the levels of most laptops and netbooks.
Pros. Power management has come a long way for making batteries last longer. Not only for the amount of time the computer is able to stay on but also the general life of the battery.
Cons. Even with most netbooks the underlying motherboard chips draw more power than the main processor. What that translates into is that the devices will still draw a minimum of around 30 watts and some tower computers can draw in excess of 1000 watts of power
Pros. The smallest tablets can quite literally be put into a pocket and carried anywhere you go even the larger screens are great for vertical markets (hospitals and marketing jobs)
Cons. As the screens get larger so does the tablet which makes carrying it around not much more convenient.
Pros. As with tablets some desktop computers can literally be put into a pocket (netbooks) thought the performance of those desktops is a little below average
Cons. Desktops can be truly massive even some mobile laptops can weigh in excess of 15 pounds and tower units easily double that.
Pros. Multimedia Playback on tablets can be great. Higher end tablets can play every media file that a desktop can and the picture quality is on par as well
Cons. Cheaper tablets have very limited playback options. The speakers on some tablets are rather small and quiet making headphones almost required in some conditions.
Pros. For most desktop systems media playback is no problem at all and they barely break a sweat. There are dozens of programs to play any kind of media you want.
Cons. Selecting just one piece of software can be difficult and most the time leads to having multiple programs to handle all the things you watch and listen to.
Overall I believe the tablet is intriguing but without adding the external keyboard (and for all intents and purposes making it a laptop/netbook) it lacks a lot of functionality that I use on a regular basis. When the OS’s that tablets come with become more useable for content creation instead of just content reading than I might change my mind but for me the desktop model is the way to go for overall versatility and multitasking capability (i.e. I do more than just browse the web I also program and write these fancy articles)
The tablet can be great for checking mail or basic browsing , possibly even taking notes in an meeting or lecture. But when your needs go beyond that its usefulness fades away and leaves you wanting another device