Why I’m Judging Tablet Users Right Now

By James Mowery

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It all began with this extraordinary television commercial I saw last night. It featured the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Everything in the commercial seemed normal, at first, but then I noticed something amazing — they had a person using a tablet inside of a grocery store. Consider my mind blown.

The commercial seemed decent: it showed an Android-based tablet doing an assortment of things while the user was on the go. All of the prototypical marketing crap was included. There was an interesting demonstration of augmented reality stuff, too. But it still didn’t make sense — why is there a person holding a 7-inch tablet in a grocery store?

Did those people at Samsung want me to write this article? (Here is the Samsung Galaxy Tab commercial on YouTube.)

Why would you even want to take a tablet computer into a grocery store? Are you checking off items on your shopping list? Are you watching YouTube videos while playing bumper carts with any bystanders who dare get in your way? Are you searching for deals while in the store? What ever happened to pen and paper? There had to be an explanation for this. There just had to be!

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I couldn’t come up with an explanation. Even as I sit here and write this article, I can only assume that the folks at Samsung were testing the theory that you can put anything (and I mean anything) in a commercial and get away with it, which they succeeded in doing.

Yet, for all of aforementioned silliness, it did actually get me thinking: how portable are tablets computers, really? And, if you wanted, could you actually take a tablet computer into a grocery store without being considered a moron?

Questioning Portability

A tablet computer is an interesting piece of technology. It is widely considered a mobile computing device — a device that you can take with you while you are on the go. Only recently have they (re)gained popularity because of Apple’s efforts to sell the iPad, but it is now obvious that what they are doing is working; people are buying these things.

But should tablet computers be labeled as portable computers? I have, for the longest time, been of the opinion that this should not apply to the likes of the iPad or Galaxy Tab. These things are far too large. You can’t really carry one of these things inside of your pocket (unless you are willing to spend a small fortune on one of those Scottevest jackets). You can’t honestly carry it under your arm everywhere you go, unless the college student look is what you are after. So what is it about a tablet computer that is portable, exactly?

Sure, take it with you on your adventures around your house, and feel free to pull it out from your luggage while you are staying at a hotel. But to carry a tablet computer around with you while you are out and about on your daily adventures — especially as the Samsung Galaxy Tab commercial suggested — is nonsense.

When you think about it, the tablet computer is nothing more than a netbook chopped in half. If you take the Macbook Air and chop it in half, you essentially have the hardware for an iPad. But you wouldn’t take a netbook into a grocery store, would you? You wouldn’t take a netbook to a music concert, would you? You wouldn’t play with a netbook computer while walking inside of a mall, would you? (Be sure to watch out for those water fountains.)

Maybe Rana Sobhany, the iPad DJ; Don Shank, the digital painter; and Bridger have a better argument for the “portability” in tablet computing, but I don’t.

Tablets Don’t Belong In Public

Every time I walk into a coffee shop, book store, or any up-beat place and see people using tablet computers, I just can’t help but think negatively of the people using them. I think “Why is he using an iPad?” or “Why doesn’t she use a netbook?” I certainly never think “Oh, that’s so cool.”

I’m not saying that I am jealous or have a negative sentiment towards the likes of an iPad or Galaxy Tab — in fact, I have handled an iPad numerous times before, and I really appreciate what it does and what it is capable of doing. But don’t let them leave the house! It’s like bringing a horse into an Apple store — it’s an amazing spectacle, sure, but it is silly.

And then it hits me…

I had these same feelings back when I began noticing kids in grade school bringing these huge, noisy, and awkward looking laptops to school. This was back when laptops were hefty and pricey items. I genuinely thought that these kids were crazy (granted, I wouldn’t think the iPad was ugly if someone brought it to school back then), even though I had a laptop of my own that I could bring to school. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before the laptops disappeared — I’m guessing because my teachers didn’t want the distraction of laptops in their classrooms. (Ironically, I now believe that teachers should allow students to bring laptops to school.)

Regardless, I had one last epiphany while writing this article (and this one is the payoff): the tablet computer is a showoff!

Status Symbol

When you use an iPad, you are making statements about yourself: you are saying that you are cool, you are sophisticated, you are on the bleeding edge of technology, and, in the process, you have an ego.

You, the tablet user who takes your tablet and plays with it in public, are a showoff.

If you are the type of person who likes to stand out of the crowd, then the iPad is the perfect device for you. But don’t bring it to a movie theater, a shopping mall, or a coffee shop. In fact, don’t ever bring the iPad with you outside of your house, unless it is on your own property.

It’s like bringing a bazooka to a sword fight — it just doesn’t seem fair. Bring a laptop, bring a netbook, bring a smart phone, bring anything else… but don’t bring that dang iPad or Galaxy Tab. You make the people around you feel unsophisticated.

Of course, once the iPad 2 comes out, I’ll have an ego too, as I’m buying one the second it comes out. I will take that thing everywhere with me and rub it in people’s faces, without remorse! But until then, no one should do this (it hurts my feelings too much). It is far too hurtful to witness.

But let me put this on the record: I will not, nor will I ever, take my iPad to a grocery store — that is just insane.

About James Mowery
James Mowery is a passionate technology journalist, entrepreneur, and Apple enthusiast who has written for various top-tier publications like Mashable, Techi, and CMSWire. Follow him on Twitter: @JMowery.

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