So what happened to tablets (electronic devices)?

The iPad launched in 2010. It was made out to be a BFD. Tablets have arrived, ohmyjesus!!! People commenced to play Angry Birds on a bigger screen than that of an iPhone.

Fast forward to 2017. The iPhone X comes out, and it’s a BFD. I was at the Fashion Mall in Indy on the day it became available, and there was a long line and a security presence. I myself bought an iPhone in February of this year (an 8, and I’m happy with it).

Meanwhile–and this is perhaps just my perception–no one cares about the iPad… or any other tablets for that matter. Samsung something or other, zzz. Kindle Fire–floparoo. Barnes & Noble Nook–do they still even make that?

But the iPad itself… Apple seems about as excited about it as it does its MacBooks. I.e., not at all. I can’t remember the iPad being a topic of an Apple event in forever. The Apple Watch, yeah.

The one exception seems to me to be the MS SurfacePro, which is a full PC in tablet form. My guess is that this has outshone all others and is the future of, well, both tablets and computers. However, it’s not really a tablet but the evolution of the computer itself. IOW, give me a goddamn MacBook Pro that works like a Surface, mmkay?!

Conclusion: Tablets were initially welcomed because they were like smartphones but bigger and less burdensome than full-on 'puters, but now they are in many ways obsolete. Smartphones and computers like the SurfacePro will probably rule the day going forward, but even so the sizzle is still mostly going to the smartphones.


Here’s my problem with them: If it’s too big to fit in my pocket, I’m not going to take it anywhere. My phone does it all already. And if I’m home, I have my real computer already.

I have both an iPhone and an iPad, and I use them for different purposes. The iPhone is for phone calls, short texts, checking the time of the next bus, checking the weather forecast, that kind of thing. The ipad is for reading e-mails, reading the news, playing games, sending longer texts, doing my online banking and looking at anything that benefits from not being seen on a tiny screen. The iPad’s virtual keyboard is vastly more functional than the iPhone’s; that’s an acceptable recompense for not being able to put the iPad in my pocket.

I think they’re still popular, but the novelty has worn off. Especially now that, like laptops, you can get an iPad or one of the hundred other ones.
I should clarify that by ‘novelty has worn off’, I mean, people have them so they’re not that big of a deal anymore. Also, I think initially a lot of people got them and then either went back to their laptops (I did, type way too much) or mostly ditched the laptop. In either case, this happened a while ago so again, it’s pretty mundane now.

Another thing that makes them so much less talked about is that they’re really affordable. Just looking at Apple’s website, I see their current offering runs from $329-$800 and I know if you go to a VZW store you can get one (don’t know which one) for $99 if you get an iPhone 8. Other brands are, naturally, considerably cheaper. The Kindle Fires are all under a hundred dollars, one of them is $30 (and only 65 if you go to 64g and no ads).

If you want a tablet, they’re practically free these days so no one really cares. They’re not obsolete so much as no one cares if you have one and people don’t show them off.

As for apple not being excited about it, they don’t really have to be. They have their fanboys and everyone else just drifts back and forth. They really don’t have to put a ton of money into advertising beyond having a presence in the electronics world and doing their investor show once a year.

I don’t get the appeal. Computers have to balance power with portability. Tablets have neither. They are too big to carry in your pocket so you have to keep them at home or carry them in a case, but if you are going to carry a case why not just take a laptop. Also if you are at home, just use a laptop instead. Basically, they are inferior to both laptops and smartphones. They have the negatives of each (not very portable, hard to type, small screen) and lack the positives of each (portability, able to use with one hand).

The market wasn’t too well thought out for that one. Also a bigger screen is not always better. I have used smartphones and prefer a screen closer to 4" instead of 5", because with a smaller screen you can use the phone with one hand and still have a firm grip on it. The bigger the screen gets, the harder it is to hold it securely while also using it.

I understand the many reasons against the iPad mentioned here, and I get them. However I’ve been using an iPad for 6+ years and am used to it. I have the iPad Mini 4 and it fits in the cargo pants pocket, so it is a bit more portable than the full sized iPad.

Easier to take to the can.

Tablet-size mobile computers are a big thing in General Aviation these days. There are holders for them that you can mount in some convenient place in a cockpit, and a plethora of aviation apps. The screen is a good size so the pilot doesn’t have to squint up close to see them. You can mount them on the instrument panel, the yoke, the canopy, or a knee-pad (a holder on a strap around your leg). GPS functionality and wireless connectivity make these an ideal tool for navigation, tracking, etc., in a moving vehicle, just as in cars, and the size seems about right.

Picture of one in use, mounted to instrument panel.

Article showing pics of a whole bunch of apps.

More and more, of course, just as in cars, small aircraft have Garmins or similar built right into the panel with all these goodies. But these tablets are widely used in even smaller aircraft, including gliders.

I like my iPad. It’s easier to read on than a phone, especially with my vision getting a tad worse every year. It’s a more pleasant Skyping experience with the in-laws. The keyboard is much easier to use. I don’t own a laptop, so it’s the most usable portable device I own and really the only practical portable thing I own that’s even a little bit comfortable to type on.

I hear a lot of people like using them in the kitchen for recipes, but that seems potentially…messy to me.

  1. Smartphones got bigger: say from 4" to 5 1/2" average screen size–and this is getting close to the 6" to 7" tablet.
  2. Laptops got lighter and cheaper: my Dell D630 weighs over 5 pounds, new laptops significantly less.

So tablets are getting squeezed from both directions.

An example of tablet usage, following up on the above:

There are GPS tracking apps for glider flight, just as there are for car trips, boating I suppose, hiking, and every other outdoor recreation. I expect most users will prefer to do this with tablets rather than smart phones, for the kinds of reasons that Eva Luna mentions just above. It would be a bit awkward to carry a laptop computer in a glider cockpit, and phones are too small to use easily.

There exists a German web site called (in English) On Line Contest, (link is to the page for American flights), where glider pilots internationally can upload their flight traces, with all kinds of statistical analyses, for all the world to see. Pilots get awarded points for these according to some elaborate scheme.

On Friday, November 10, 2017 (not a heavy soaring day, not being a weekend), there were four flights logged in Region 11, which is northern California, Nevada and thereabouts. Ramy Yanetz, an adept cross-country glider pilot bordering on the supernatural, did a 200-some mile flight from Hollister to Santa Ynez (but that kind of soaring is just a normal day for Ramy), logging it, and uploading it to OLC. Here it is. Take a look and see all the sorts of information it has there about the flight. Ramy is utterly famous and renowned among glider pilots throughout the western United States for this kind of stuff. He takes astounding pictures of the scenery too, which I’ve linked elsewhere on this board. Here it is again. Absolutely breathtaking photography there.

Note on the trace, there’s a little town of Avenal shown, midway between Hollister and Santa Ynez. There’s a little glider port there too.

On that same day, Nov. 10, I was having a lesson there at Avenal, even as Ramy was flying by over the nearby mountains to the west. We may have heard him on the radio, but it was a bit indistinct. My instructor logged our flight too and posted it. Not quite 200 miles, but we flew 17 miles in a little over an hour. Here’s our flight at Avenal.

So there’s an example of what we can use tablets for.

I guess it depends on what you use the iPad for. Mine is WiFi only, so it doesn’t tend to leave my apartment unless it’s for a vacation. Mine is mainly used as a laptop replacement and my needs are fairly basic. The newer models just don’t offer enough improvements that have convinced me to upgrade. If I’m streaming movies or sports on the iPad, it’s usually because I’m in bed or in a hotel room and I’ve already accepted that the quality isn’t going to be similar to a modern television. And that’s fine, I don’t turn to the iPad for serious viewing.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I bought a tablet for reading, listening to music and watching videos on the bus. Now that I’m not doing that, it is my bed-stand device, for reading or watching videos in bed, checking emails and facebook, etc. I take it with me on vacation but avoid unsecured wifi like the plague it is.


My iPad goes around the house with me. It’s in the kitchen displaying a recipe, it’s next to my bed storing my books, it’s next to my desktop computer acting as a second screen, it’s on my indoor cycling trainer recording my training session, and it’s on the couch ready for games, light reading, searching the internet for something that piques my interest from a TV show or for tips on a PS4 game I’m playing. When I’m away from home it replaces my desktop. I can watch Netflix, surf the net, play games, FaceTime family, study, etc etc. The cover has an inbuilt keyboard so moderate typing is not an issue. When I am at work (aviation), my iPad has my reference manuals that would normally weigh several kilos and require a big bag to carry, it has maps of my flight route, it connects to the weather service and provides me with up to date weather information between flights. If I need to write a safety report, the forms are on the iPad and I can type it up, sign it, and email it to the safety department within minutes.

For me a normal size phone is too small for comfortable reading and typing. A big phone is too big for phoning. A laptop doesn’t do anything my iPad can’t do and is bigger and more cumbersome.

The iPad doesn’t need to fit in a pocket, if I’m doing anything and need it then I invariably have a bag with me.

Is the iPad still exciting? No, but I don’t need it to stir up a media frenzy, I just need it to meet my needs. It does it very well and it would be a big loss for me if I didn’t have one.

I’m not an early tech adopter, but I got given a tablet a couple of years back, and loved it for the first year or so. Eventually though, I realised that the only thing I was using it for that wouldn’t be better on a laptop or a phone was reading, and the battery life was a bit poor for that. When it broke, I replaced it with a dedicated e-reader, which is more comfortable on the eyes and has a far better battery life. I’ve not missed the tablet at all, or considered getting another one.

It seems their ecological niche isn’t very big, and it’s getting smaller as other stuff comes along.

Tablets got cheap, which made them less exciting. I still see quite a few on sale and in use; I have two different tablets (and a phone with a 6 inch screen, which is nearly a tablet) on my desk right now.

I think there is a problem with modern society where we expect some items, particularly electronics, to be better and more amazing with each iteration. Why should it be? Why can’t something just be very good at what it does and simply exist within the range of items we own in order to simplify our lives. When I buy a chair I don’t expect something amazing that no chair has ever done before, I just expect a good solid chair. The presence of bar stools, lounges, lazy-boys, and bean bags, doesn’t make a dining room table chair obsolete or “on the way out”. They are different products that have some overlap in function but ultimately serve different purposes. I like technological advancement, but I don’t like the expectation of advancement just for the purpose of giving the consumers something shiny to buy every couple of years.

Ah, but with modern technology, you should be able to buy just one chair that can do all those things just by downloading a variety of chair apps. Or just one all-purpose chair app with multiple settings available. With just one e-chair you can just go to Tools -> Options -> Chair Preferences and select Lounge (Alt+L), BeanBag (Alt+B), BarStool (Alt+S), or plain old KitchenChair (Alt+K). You probably need to download an add-on to get Recliner (Alt+R).

That’s the thing about computers ever since Von Neumann, you only need one mochine that can be many mochines by just running different apps.

ETA: And you will be able to install additional future apps, within limits, that aren’t even invented yet. As soon as someone comes out with the Davenport App (Alt+D) you can install that (may require memory upgrade), and for outdoor use you can install and run various ParkBench (Alt+P) and PicnicTable (Alt+T) apps, etc.

Just 5 months ago, Apple spent half an hour on the iPad and iPad specific parts of iOS 11 at WWDC. That’s almost a quarter of the entire WWDC keynote devoted to iPad, and a full half of the keynote if you include all the iOS talk.

Did you watch this keynote but you have a very bad memory? If you didn’t watch it, then it appears you’re interested in projecting your own lukewarm feelings about the iPad onto Apple because all evidence is to the contrary.