More than six years have elapsed since Steve Jobs introduced the original iPad. In the intervening time, gadget makers around the world have created tablets in a wide array of shapes and sizes, with different purposes and operating systems, at all kinds of price points. But plenty of people make big mistakes when they’re shopping for a tablet, and plenty more people have bought, or are considering purchasing, a tablet even when they’re not sure whether they really need a tablet. In fact, for most people, there isn’t really a reason to buy a tablet anymore.
Tablets lose out on portability and utility
When tablets first became popular, they were very different from the other devices we were using: phones and laptops. They were much more portable and responsive than laptops, but a lot bigger and easier to use for media consumption than a small smartphone. Today, that’s changed. A large-screened smartphone with a robust battery has become an acceptable place to watch a Netflix show or catch up on the day’s news, and a lightweight, portable laptop is often not much larger than the average tablet.
Another reason why you probably don’t need a tablet comes down to the question of how many devices you really want to own, maintain, and carry around. If you want one device in your pocket and one in your work bag, then the tablet is probably the first to get the axe. A laptop is a fully-featured device that can run resource-intensive software, enable you to create and edit documents with its full keyboard, and take full advantage of everything the internet has to offer. A smartphone, particularly one with a large screen, works great for staying in touch with friends and co-workers, reading or watching videos on the subway, and staying plugged in to your email account everywhere you go. But a tablet’s place in the lineup is less obvious. It can’t do everything that the first two devices can, and there probably isn’t anything unique that it brings to the table, either.
Additionally, you should always consider how you’re going to carry a new device if your idea is that you’ll always have it with you. A smartphone fits easily and comfortably into most pockets, which makes it easy to have with you at all times. But you probably don’t carry your laptop around with your everywhere, since doing so requires carrying a bag. A tablet falls somewhere between; it probably won’t fit in your pocket, but carrying an entire laptop bag just to tote your tablet around will probably feel cumbersome. Tablets are portable, but not portable enough to justify the fact that they don’t do much more than a smartphone.