Is 2011 the year of the tablet?


I don’t care how popular the iPad is or how awesome the Galaxy Tab will be. I’m not interested in debating 7″ versus 9″ form factors and I certainly won’t sit up at night wondering the screen resolution of the iPad 2. As a long-time laptop owner, I am certain that the shift in computing habits is still a few years off, similar to how long it took laptops to supplant desktops as the most widely used machines.

It’s not that I dislike iPads and other tablets, it’s that the work most of us have to do doesn’t gel well with the input capabilities of said touch screen. They’re great for quick hits, but bad for anything long term. Here I compare a few places where an iPad or laptop would work better:

1. In the bathroom
It takes a certain kind of geek to take a laptop in the bathroom and I’ve done it more times than I’d like to remember. Until I had Instapaper, I usually took my MacBook Pro in there to read something. This is an obvious place where an iPad would work much better and I think it looks less weird to walk into a stall carrying an iPad than a laptop.

2. On public transportation
While I usually just use my iPhone on the Light Rail here in Phoenix, I can see how a long, daily commute might mean you’d have time to open a laptop or whip out an iPad. Problem is, you’re going to need to have a seat to get any real work done and I can’t figure out how to type (comfortably) on a tablet in my lap. Peter Shankman, who has the means to buy both an iPad and a MacBook Air, opted for the latter and loves the productivity boost.

3. In a business meeting

Any good business meeting should be short and informative enough that you lack either the time or desire to pull out your laptop/tablet, but let’s be serious here: they never are. I’m a big fan of not showing my screen to the entire room while on my laptop, but no matter how hard I try to type quietly, it’s always too loud. An iPad makes a great companion in this situation, just remember to buy a case with a stand.

4. In front of the TV
I seldom watch TV without my iPhone or MacBook Pro out. I’m usually looking up stuff I hear about on the shows, checking reactions for live events or completely ignoring the big screen in order to focus on the smaller one on my lap. Because I don’t usually write well when I’m distracted by something else, the iPad seems the perfect companion to my boob-tube watching. Also, with Apple TV I can use the iPad as a remote.

5. On a plane
The only time I’ve used my MacBook Pro in coach, I nearly killed it with a Jack and Ginger. I’ve also only flown first class once, so I don’t get many chances to work on a plane. The iPad is a perfect choice here, even more so because of its superior battery life. I know that it’s possible to use a laptop on a plane, but it’s just not very comfy.

Do you ever think you’ll be able to switch to a tablet full time? What’s holding you back?