Why I'm sticking with a laptop for work


Fueled by a very real BYOD trend, the talk of tablets replacing laptops and desktop computers just keeps getting louder.

Indeed, Apple CEO Tim Cook himself recently admitted that a downturn in Mac sales was partially the result of cannibalization by the iPad. While there are indeed legitimate advantages that the tablet offers over traditional computing devices, can the tablet truly replace the PC for work? For me at least, the answer is a definite"no."

Before I explain why, let me qualify that I've been a tablet user since the first iPad arrived in Singapore. I'm currently on a third-gen iPad, and also have an Android and PlayBook tablet that I use occasionally. I also use an iPhone 5 and BlackBerry 9780 (Not a BlackBerry 10 unfortunately) as my phone. And yes, I usually bring my laptop, a tablet and smartphones with me when I head out.

Lack of Windows

While my iPad tablet is excellent at a large number of tasks, it simply falls flat when it comes to the primary task I do every day: writing. The main issue revolves around its inability to let me easily work with multiple app windows at the same time. The ability to switch quickly between windows is pivotal, as I often have to reference technical information, copy out a quote, or obtain the URL of a related article in the midst of writing. I've tried the Galaxy Note 10.1, with its Multi Screen enhancement too, and found the experience to be too clunky.

The Keyboard

The other key problem with tablets is its lack of a physical keyboard. As you may imagine, a virtual keyboard simply doesn't cut it when pounding out a couple of thousand words a day--and that doesn't including responding to emails and comments. And, the virtual keyboard consumes a significant amount of screen real estate when activated.

Why not pair an external hardware keyboard with the tablet? The issue with this idea  is that a keyboard adds to the heft and weight of the tablet. So instead of bringing out a tablet and a separate keyboard, why not just bring out your laptop instead and enjoy its multi-window capability, larger screen, and full-sized keyboard?

Further more, I have had the opportunity to test out more than a dozen made-for-tablet keyboards to date, and one often unmentioned disadvantage of them is that they only work best on a flat table and require some seconds to setup. A laptop, on the other hand, wakes up from sleep mode within a couple of seconds.

Obviously, my reasons to sticking with a laptop may not apply to some of you. I'm curious to hear if your work allows you to switch exclusively to using a tablet. As usual, feel free to drop me an email, tweet me, or leave a note in the comment section on the FierceCIO:TechWatch web page. - Paul Mah  (Twitter @paulmah)