One of the biggest trends in recent technology history is the tablet boom. Once a niche product used by few and enjoyed by fewer, tablets are now in demand and are selling like hot pancakes.
However, it would be a rather poor idea to jump to the conclusion that tablets are the future. Let us never forget that cell phones and other small mobile devices are capable of a great many things that tablets sadly lack.
In fact, there are quite a few reasons why you should buy a good cell phone instead of a tablet. You see, tablets are have a lot of faults, stuff like…
Tablets Are In A Weird Spot For Capabilities
The title pretty much says it all. A tablet occupies a bizarre middle ground between a phone and a laptop. A phone is capable of a great deal fewer things than a laptop, but that’s to be expected. A phone is smaller, so it has less room for all those processors that make modern PCs capable of serious stuff like PhotoShop.
You also can’t type on a phone, but again, that’s to be expected. A tablet shares all the disadvantages of a phone without the phone’s singular portability advantage. And while companies like Apple might be trying to bring more productivity software to the iPad, nothing substitutes for a real laptop.
(image credit to engadget)
Quite frankly, laptops are capable of so much more than a tablet. For example, I put a very high value on a physical keyboard. Speaking as someone who writes thousands of words every day for fun and for work, there is no substitute for a good physical keyboard.
Touch screen typing works just fine for texting and typing in website URLs, but don’t expect me to write up a 1,500 word blog post without a real keyboard. Being able to write on the road is one of the best parts of a laptop, and it would be completely lost with a tablet.
Smaller App Store
The number of apps made specifically for iPad is growing quickly (it’s over 100,000 according to Wikipedia)… but it’s still not as large as the number of apps made for iPhone (over 500,000 as of July 2011). That’s a bit of an unfair comparison because the iPhone has been around for a whole lot longer than the iPad, but the fact remains. There are far more apps made for the iPhone.
And yes, I know you can play these apps on your iPad… just so long as you don’t mind the blurry visuals and using an interface designed for another product. If you want to use the most apps on the product they were intended for, then you need to skip the tablet and get a phone.
Phones Can do E-Reading Too
Remember e-reading? You know, what tablets were originally intended for? Turns out phones can do that too. Check out the Android Market or the iOS App Store and you’ll see a Kindle app or several other standalone ebook apps you can download, no tablet required. To be honest here, tablets are better e-readers. The larger screen is a huge help for books and especially magazines.
However, e-reading is still a viable alternative on a small screen. To prove it, I recently finished re-reading George R. R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings and A Feast for Crows on my iPod Touch. If you’ve never seen those two books, they are fairly large. A Feast for Crows weighs in at almost a thousand pages, and A Clash of Kings is just as large.
(image credit to unlimfiles)
Reading those two seminal works of fiction on my iPod was unconventional, but I didn’t really mind. If you get a good reader app like Stanza for iOS (free) or Aldiko for Android (also free), then e-reading on a small screen is actually pretty easy.
Not as many people will use a certain other function, but today’s smart phones and tablets work impressively well as comic book readers. These days with the widespread availability of electronic versions of every comic imaginable, comic book e-reading on a phone is easy.
(image credit to goshlondon)
Again, this is one thing tablets do better. However, comics work perfectly fine on phones. Get a good reader like Comic Book Mobi for iOS (jailbreak required) or Droid Comic Viewer for Android (free), you can import your electronic comic collection for easy viewing.
Probably the single best advantage of a tablet is the screen size. Browsing the web and watching Netflix is incredibly easy with 10 square inches of touch screen goodness.
The problem is that larger screen size makes for a much larger target for the sworn enemy of anyone who uses the internet: advertisers. Make no mistake, advertising firms are very aware of the massive sales of the iPad and they are preparing accordingly.
So far, their work is paying off: advertising on tablets is six times as effective on tablets than on phones. And of course, you can’t block ads on iOS without a jailbreak because Apple needs more advertising money from you. Hey, that death ray won’t build itself.
Of all the things, this one fault baffles me most. Why would anyone want to carry around a tablet? My favorite part about smart phones is their portability. You can put a phone in your pocket, cuddle with it, take it everywhere and still have plenty of pocket space left over. I love having a device the size of a note card that can still access the internet and let me check sports scores and read the comments on my blog.
A tablet does that in an arguably more elegant way, but you can’t fit a tablet in your pocket without clown pants. One writer was asked what a tablet offered that a phone did not. His response was “You mean besides a bigger screen? Nothing.”
“Aha! But what if I want to carry around a tablet in my backpack! Answer me that, good sir!” you say. In my mind, if you’re going to carry around a large electronic device, you might as well bring a laptop. While iPads are more intuitive and fun to use, laptops are have so many more capabilities, not the least of which is gaming. There’s no Team Fortress 2 on iPad.
Those are just a few reasons I thought up as for why you should be spending your hard-earned cash on a phone and definitely not a tablet. If nothing else, a phone would make a great Christmas gift.