Saturday, February 4, 2012

Why I Won't Get a Tablet (UPDATED: 2-12-12)

Full disclosure. I have a Kindle Touch, and I like it. But only because the only touching I have to do is a finger-motion very similar to turning the page in a book. Which is fine, because I got the Kindle specifically to save me the trouble of carrying large books around with me. It does this.

The reason I won't get a tablet is that touchscreen keyboards are impossible to use efficiently by a person trained (as I am) to type on a full-sized keyboard.

Yes, I've had people tell me they can do 20 wpm with hunt & peck, which is nice, but I do 50+ with a real keyboard, and I can't fathom downgrading that far, considering my very existence on this blog revolves around textual loquacity.

There is an excellent discussion on the problems with touchscreen typing at Tablet PC Review.

Short version: you can't rest your fingers on the keyboard, and you can't type a letter with your fingernail, not to mention lack of tactile & audio feedback.

Yes, I know I could get a tablet, then plug a keyboard into it, but then I might as well use a laptop.

Which I do.

And barring the invention of the "Holodeck 3D Reality Keyboard," probably always will.

UPDATE: Spockgirl offers a brilliant perspective on the deeper meaning of touchscreen technology


  1. Well, the big thing with most tablets are that they aren't really meant to be used as a replacement. I use mine mostly when I'm laying on the couch chilling and simply cruising. I'll read some blogs, have a bunch of apps for news and sports, play some games. And you can get a really good one for $200-$300, 7 or 10 inch screens.

    If I really want to type long responses in comments, I'll head to the laptop.

  2. Isn't a tablet like an iphone for the visually impaired?

    I am impressed with the 50+ wpm... for a dude especially. I think back in high school typing class I got up to 80 on the IBM selectrics we had.

  3. Typing - the one high school class that was still useful after graduation.

    I actually finished the class typing about 20 wpm, and kind of forgot about it because I went into the Navy. About 5 years later, I was living off base, bought a computer, and started typing all my letters. Surprisingly, my fingers hadn't forgotten how to type in that time.

    I never really TRIED for speed. It's just 20 years of practice.

  4. Oh, I agree with you, Harvey, about a tablet not being able to replace a laptop. I learned how to type in Junior High, and have so much trouble adapting to a virtual keyboard.

    William Teach is correct too, though, about the convenience of a tablet for quick couch-surfing. It's so convenient to grab the iPad and do a quick surf or search without getting the laptop.

    I haven't tried any of the higher-priced Android-based tablets. They cost as much as an iPad. I figure if I have to pay as much as an Apple device costs, I might as well get an Apple device. And, I did: I have an iPad (the 1st generation one).

    I did try some of the cheaper Android-based tablets, but was unhappy with the usability -- touch seemed to be a little off, apps would crash regularly, etc -- and haven't had problems like that to that degree with the iPad. Maybe the alternate, cheaper Android tablets work better now.

    I've heard good things about the Kindle devices, particularly the Fire. I'm glad to hear the touch feature of the Touch works well. That device is now on my radar.

    Best as I can tell, the best light-weight tablet-size laptops are the MacBook Air and certain PCs that meet Intel's Ultrabook standard. Most of the true Ultrabooks cost as much as an Air -- Apple locked up most of the SSD and unibody providers, causing PC makers to have to pay a premium -- and I've already told you what I thought about paying Apple prices.

    I do suggest this, though. Modify your position from "Why I Won't Get a Tablet" to "Why I Won't Get a Tablet ... Yet."

    Somebody (probably Apple) will figure out a way to solve the keyboard issue. When they do, I'll probably go to a tablet as primary device instead of my laptop.


    Holodeck keyboard. Just saying.

    Still, I'm with you. The gap for me between a smartphone and a computer isn't big enough to fill with any other device. People need them because Steve-O told them they do.

  6. I do 45wpm with hunt and peck. It's been tested three times at various employment agencies who called bullshit on me when I tell them this.

    One of these days I'm going to have to break down and actually learn to type. I'll probably top 80.

    That said, I LOATHE touchscreen keyboards. A prerequisite in a smartphone for me is a slider keyboard.

  7. Basil - Ok, I might get a tablet after about 10 years of advances in voice recognition software.

    Unless I'm still married, because I don't my wife overhearing my typing.

    Anyway, as for couch surfing, I have a laptop on the coffee table in front of my couch for that. Always plugged in, always on, always connected to the internet.

  8. I use a desktop for some things, a notebook for others--such as most of my "couch surfing"--and a Kindle Fire for a different set of tasks. Sure, they all overlap a bit, but each has its own set of areas where it beats out the others. Tablet? Mostly books (great screen), movies (see "great screen"--with either some nice earphones or earbuds) and music along with a few other things it's handier to use it for from time to time, such as some limited web browsing, as well as some tasks I used to use a much smaller Palm for. Made a few styli that enable fair "two-finger" typing on the virtual keyboard, not that I use that all that often.

    Tablets of any flavor have a limited appeal for me, but in the limited areas I use mine, it really is quite handy and well-suited to its uses. For me.

    Still, had I not been given a Fire for Christmas, I probably would have waited a tad and eventually bought something like the Asus Transformer or the NotionInk Adam. But I'm glad Son&Heir thought to get me the Fire, as I've found I really like the form factor (and implementation) for the things I use it for. For one thing, it's a great "throne room" computing device...

  9. I got my ipad almost a year ago. I almost never use it, preferring my laptop.

    I type 85+ wpm, which is not possible on the ipad. So, I don't use it. I go weeks without using it. Husband's ipad is constantly in use.

    For me: Such a waste of $

  10. I know you're all going to do a group groan and stone me with virtual rocks for my Neanderthal-ness, but I love my iPad for couch surfing because the other computer is a desktop PC in another room. Talk about being tethered.

  11. Moogie - Nah, it's cool. If you don't have a laptop, an iPad beats a desktop.

    Honestly, I couldn't watch reality TV shows with my wife if I didn't have internet access to spackle over the boring parts (i.e. everything between the opening & closing credits).

  12. "I never really TRIED for speed." Me neither. Accuracy was the killer.

    Thanks for the linkylove.

  13. I'm a guy and average 75-80 wpm, LOL :) learned way back in highschool and so glad I did ...... ah well.. which tablet to i want, selling my ipad "3" .. hate apple now , grrrrr