They are.

Although, not for everyone.

You see, the key to any technological device in our modern age, the usefulness depends on the individual as much as the device in question. Not everyone is enamored with smartphones when their only need is to make and receive voice calls. I get that, though I know a lot of people who don’t.

The reality is that our technology is progressing far faster than many people can adapt to it. This reality causes people who don’t utilize as much computing or communications technology a bit of an overwhelming situation. What do you use it all for? Why the overlapping technology in multiple gadgets. If I can get email on my home computer, and maybe on a phone, why do I need a tablet? If I get streaming media on my game console, why would I want it on my phone? Does email I read on my phone still show up on my home computer?  And so on…

Tablets are one of those in-between devices that are, technically, little more than scaled up mobile phones and, software-wise, nowhere near what a desktop or powerful laptop can do. Yet, that’s the interesting part. We’re comparing them to devices we’re familiar with, trying to find the part we’re already comfortable with in order to use it. Recognizing the tablet as a revolutionary computing device that disrupts our concepts of a “PC”, isn’t forefront in our minds.

As a technologist, I get excited by the technical specifications of the devices, and what that bodes for the future. I marvel at the standardization of all the complexities of mobile, connected computing devices in ways the average person doesn’t (FYI – it makes me a nerd). I understand that too – for many people, a device is supposed to accomplish some complex task for them. Quickly, if not more easily. The fast pace of innovation can make even the most ardent tech geek’s head spin at times!

So, back to the point of all this. A lot of people have said that tablets aren’t productivity devices. Other say they really are, and can’t imagine life without them. I think the reality is somewhere in between, and our existing concepts of the traditional PC are already changing.

What will the next evolution of tablets bring to our awareness of technology and computing? Give it a week, maybe two, and let’s ask that question again.

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