Tablets, computer tablets and tablet PCs have had a difficult time gaining traction among mainstream consumers. Despite regularly being hailed as the next best thing and the suggested next purchase people should consider they just don’t seem to answer a need. Now, in an attempt to answer a more widespread need, they really don’t answer a need.
The widespread need the industry perceives is that people and techies want more portable laptops and more power and touchscreen convenience. Instead of making just such a laptop, producers have super-sized the tablet form factor. That’s just dumb.
The best tablets ever available were roughly the size of books; trade paperback, hardcover, textbook, whatever size the buyer was accustomed to. The familiar size and tablet functionality combined into a truly usable form-matching-function piece of hardware that reviewers insisted everyone would covet. The majority of computer users who would have appreciated the ‘tablets of then’ weren’t reading books. They were reading online through PCs with keyboards and the tablet’s lack of hard, physical user input missed the mark and the size wasn’t relatable. So tablets languished.
Skipping years of history, we bounce right to today. I was excited to get the best, new tablet Samsung offered after my positive experience with, first, the 7-inch Google Nexus tablet, then the 8-inch Samsung Tab S2 and now I was sure the S4 would appeal. Though I don’t game or hack well at all, I might be considered a power-user because I can burn up a processor with tasks, use a multitude of art programs and do more than check my email and consume kitten memes online. Getting right to it, here’s my bullet list of how tablets today fail:
- Superior resolution wasted on ‘mobile versions’ of websites
- Command prompts require downloading extensions
- No dev tools online through Chromium
- Inadequate heat dispersion
- No more physical home screen buttons
- Bezels too thin to hold
- Oversized form factors now make inconvenient travel
and here we go…
Superior resolution wasted on ‘mobile versions’ of websites The S4 is considered the laptop killer. Laptops don’t need killing. Screen resolution alone a laptop doesn’t make. Tablets still surf with mobile browsers, so websites like Facebook detect the browser and deliver the most horrible version of their site you ever saw thinking your visit is on a small, high-resolution cell phone screen which uses the same browser.
Command prompts require downloading extensions Sniffing around for networks to join or play on shouldn’t be a hassle. The wireless hardware should offer at least some barebones perspective on what’s available. If you’ve never downloaded a utility for networks or command prompt work and find yourself in a situation where you need either but can’t access the Internet or don’t want to just yet, you quickly live the definition of Catch22.
No dev tools online through Chromium Windows 2000 (I think) didn’t ship with msconfig removing a great deal of customization tools. The outcry was swift and Microsoft immediately restored access to msconfig through their Windows+R command prompt – that’s Windows users we’re talking about! Even they knew enough to know they needed tools under the hood without special downloads or permission.
Inadequate heat dispersion Portability? Laptop killer? Sounds like your marketing might include some webmasters. Well, shiiiit. Why don’t you package that bad boy with something that allows them to act like webmasters? Gaming, computer techs, hackers, front camera video users; these are chicks and dudes let down by tablet inadequacies and also the users first in line with cash.
Users like those require some power. Laptops have miniature AC units and fans inside. Webcams are fantastic, or upgradable, and point at users for content creators or video calls. Tablets on the other hand must throttle power because heat is such a big problem and the user-facing camera is nearly always inferior. Laptop life expectancy vs Tablet in years, 6 vs 2.
No more physical home screen buttons I don’t even want to talk about it. Not having buttons looked great on Star Trek The Next Generation, but I need tactility in my life so I’m not forced to look down for every, little detail. As long as the keyboard still marks the [F] and [J] for my index fingers in keyboard life, I’m still in need of home screen buttons. Tab S4 has none.
Bezels too thin to hold I’ve said this in several podcasts: I like to read from the tablet in bed. I can’t have a heavy slate computer fall on my face. I’m just too ugly for even one accident like that. While you can deafen areas of the screen to touch allowing fat hands to grip beyond the bezel, why should we have to? Why buy a multi-input touchscreen computer just to partially turn off sensitivity? This is stupid. Give me a handle!
Oversized form factors now make inconvenient travel As I mentioned above, when form factors provided 7 and 8-inch diagonals at 9:16 ratios and the like, tablets were as portable as books. The Samsung S4 is a 10.5-inch TV with better than HD resolution. It’s too much of the wrong stuff that doesn’t kill any laptop anywhere. It just keeps snuffing out the practicality of tablets. Who travels with a TV? Ostentatious boobs, that’s who.
My decision came to…
After getting my hands on different tablets while 100% certain I was in the market for one, I got the latest Samsung Tab S3. It’s still too big at a 9.7-inch diagonal. It’s still too heavy, it’s still lamely treated as a mobile device online and my “Super AMOLED 2048 × 1536 display” delivers web pages that look like they came out of large-print children’s books. The magnet snap on the keyboard-case fools Samsung software half the time into thinking I need an onscreen keyboard; I’m not sure what that’s all about. Spell ccehk is inactive wtih the physical keyboard wcihh is a big porblem for me. Marketing quietly includes specs on the inferior, 5MP front facing camera opposed to its 13MP, fast f/1.9 “main” camera with autofocus and Flash.
There is a home screen button. The bezel is still visible. It can display HDR content. Memory is hugely expandable to 256GB. It has a metal frame (I got silver). It’s stylus in a spark of brilliance, is called the S Pen (sarcasm) is good and easy; it comes with the keyboard-case flippy cover asset. I’ve been more than happy with the battery life and I don’t care that it can run two applications visually side by side.
The Bottom Line is the same as the top. I need portability, want computer privacy when I travel and find that 2 years has tapped my Tab S2 out plus a funky charging port issue and cracked screen. A laptop won’t fill the bill but users like me are stuck and I can no longer recommend a tablet even when one is preferable because the best computer tablets no longer exist.
Just get a big ass phone and a bluetooth keyboard.