September 08, 2012

Is screen the only advantage tablets have?

Quite often, I find myself wanting to read on my Nexus 7 than on my laptops.  Checking my Google Reader, reading any article that’d take more than a couple of minutes, reading Kindle books... I prefer the tablet for all these.  This is not surprising because the Nexus 7 has a 216-dpi screen while my laptop has an incomparable 96-dpi screen.

When it comes to doing some real work... work that involves multitasking and/or precision, touch devices are very inadequate.  Think of writing code, for instance.  I’d have 6+ browser tabs open with various manuals, one terminal for building and running the code, one or two more terminals for other random stuff, one editor/IDE window (usually GVim; occasionally Eclipse), and a few more browser tabs that are pure distraction (Gmail, Google+, etc.)  A touchscreen device without overlapping windows just won’t work for this use case.

Android’s multitasking UI would improve over time, but I doubt if it can catch up with current desktop OSes in the next two years.  On the other hand, it’s likely that before the end of 2013 there will be enough high-res monitors and laptops in the market.  When that happens, I may use the laptop a lot more frequently than the tablets.

While tablets may replace laptops for quite a few people going forward, I don’t see myself giving up the functionality I get from desktop OSes.

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