Tech-volution: Rise of the Tablet and Fall of the Laptop
When the first computers were invented, they were so enormous that they took up whole rooms. The Babbage Defense Engine, the very first computer in the world, weighed in at over 700 pounds. Cut to 1981 when the Osborne Corp released the Osborne 1: a 24-pound portable computer with a five-inch screen, two floppy disk drives, a battery pack, and a modem port. While the Osborne 1 was a far cry from the super sleek laptops and tablets that we have today, it was their common ancestor. The advances in technology between 1981 and today have been so significant that today’s lightest laptops weigh in at around 0.868 kgs (the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro). The world’s most advanced tablet weighs in at 0.628 kgs (the iPad Pro 12.9).
These days, these incredible machines aren’t just used for calculation or scientific discovery. People use their tablets and laptops to play online slots, to shop for clothing, or book their next vacation. The best tablets on the market today have the same capabilities as most of the best laptops; the only thing they’re missing is a built-in keyboard and a few grams of weight. As both machines continue to evolve, we ask; will the laptop begin to die out, and the tablet begin to take over? Let’s take a look at what the best brains in the business have to say on the subject.
Noone can deny that laptops and tablets have more in common now than ever. Many laptops are now smaller than we ever thought they could get, and some of the more high-end ones offer seamless touch screens. Many believe that the PC industry is in complete decline, but the experts don’t necessarily think that’s accurate.
As far as the immediate future is concerned, Windows laptops will continue to be the go-to computing device for the masses. Roydon Cerejo of Red Pixels Ventures LTD doesn’t see any sort of a future in which laptops are completely obsolete. He believes that the addition of touch screens to laptops is not an omen of doom for the computer industry but rather a gimmick intended to lure in the touch screen generations. In terms of practicality, he believes that laptops will continue to be the most sensible multifunctional computing solution.
Hatim Kantawalla of Crunch Base tends to agree. While he does believe that cloud-based computing will continue to lead the way in terms of function and storage, a change he thinks is here to stay, he believes that only users who don’t use their devices for work (other than artists) will stick with the laptops they have or upgrade them rather than switching entirely to a tablet.
Initially, die-hard computer fans believed that tablets were a trend that wasn’t going to last. Halfway between a phone and a computer, tablets are currently used mostly as a way to consume various media: from social media apps to watching movies and listening to music. The earliest incarnation of the tablet was already developed in 1915, but the first real version of tablets, more or less as we know them today, came out in 1956- a handwriting-oriented tablet. 1963 saw RAND Corp’s RAND tablet, followed closely by the Dynabook, which was geared towards education. All of these tablets had one thing in common: they didn’t have keyboards. Cut to 1987, when Apple CEO John Sculley named the PDA and began the race to the format of the modern tablet as we know it now. This device was the ancestor of things like FaceTime, Siri, and iCloud, and it would change the game completely. Shocking though it may be, the very first iPad only came out 12 years ago, followed closely by the Galaxy Tab. Tablets began to take hold as a common household item, and the race was on to see who could make them the smallest and best. In 2007, the Amazon Kindle burst onto the market, and e-readers were born. Operating systems and display capabilities increased at a radical rate, and today, in 2022, tablet shipments are expected to total 168 million by year-end.
While Apple is still the leader in tablet technology and sales; it seems the chances are slim that tablets will replace laptops any time soon. The most likely long-term outcome for each of these devices is a further fusion. Keyboards remain essential for most users, and laptops are almost as portable as tablets. Sure, you can buy a keyboard to go with your tablet, but why go through all that bother when a laptop comes with a long-lasting, built-in version. By the same token, if you primarily use your machine to watch movies or listen to music, what’s the point of a built-in keyboard?
The evolution will likely continue, but neither device seems likely to wipe out the other anytime soon.