Laptops, not tablets Photo by Jaemi Yoo
Have you ever owned something that was the newest, the best, and the one thing that everyone covets at that instant?
When the “new iPad” came out in March, five of my best friends bought them or iPad 2s. I competed with them on their iPads’ gaming applications for high scores. Slide your finger across the screen and feel the track you’re moving the race car along. Tap the actual spot where you want the ball to go and watch it knock the cans down.
A lot of people thought these gleaming new inventions would replace their laptops — laptops weigh more, take up more space, and their batteries die sooner. Besides, if everyone else has the newest piece of technology and is bringing it to class, shouldn’t you?
The community element of tablets fostered their popularity as well; iPads especially have a lot of apps and games that allow users to interact with each other. My friends all play games together from a company called Zynga, for example.
The New York Times ran an article when the first iPad came out that cited tablets as “the next big thing” and “the device of the moment” and argued that they were the only gift one should be getting for technology lovers at the time. It never said why being newer made them inherently better, though. In their hyped-up state where only the newest mattered, The New York Times and other outlets either failed to mention or glossed over the disadvantages of tablets.
Firstly, there’s the lack of the wonderful click-clack of a laptop’s physical keyboard. While the sound itself doesn’t matter, the poor text input on tablets that keeps people from typing long documents is a main complaint about tablets. Since we students have papers to write, tablets can’t entirely replace laptops unless we also use desktops or want to spend lots of time with bad typing interface. There are now keyboards that plug into iPads and other tablets, but why not get a netbook at that point? Then you’d have the increased mobility and still have the advantages of a laptop’s functionality.
That leads to my second point: Laptops do more. Tablets have to have an app for everything. Tablets can’t play DVDs at all. Many popular music-streaming sites, like Spotify, require you to pay to use their mobile apps. A lot of video games aren’t ported to any tablets. You can’t even store files on your tablet. Files have to be stored within an application or in cloud-storage online, which requires you to have Wi-Fi access whenever you want to save.
While tablets have a major coolness factor and are very mobile, they don’t have the utility of laptops. For taking notes in class or surfing the web while out and about, they’re very useful. They’re wonderfully social, too, with fun little games set up to connect with friends. If you want to do something as simple as watch a DVD, though, you’re stuck. Want to write a paper? Have fun working around its autocorrect.
While iPads are cool and have a lot of uses, it comes down to this: I can do everything I need to without a tablet, but I can’t do everything I need to without a laptop.
The verdict: Laptops, not tablets
Reach reporter Andrew Rodgers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Andrewrodgersau
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