My brief affair with the tablet

I recently returned from Las Vegas where I attended an Intel partner event. Over the course of three days, I was able to listen to many speakers give us their predictions for the future of computing. We were presented with demos of fancy all-in-one PCs, sleek new laptops as well as beefy workstations powered by quad Xeons. If Intel was building chips for it, we saw it or heard about it. 

Yet one topic popped up in nearly every presentation I watched: the tablet. 

Whether it was the enterprise, medical or education, the venerable tablet was well on its way to shaking up that market. Intel was giddy about their prospects for building the next generation of tablets. In fact, every attendee was given an Android tablet to take home. 

So since I returned home I've been giving some thought to my experience with tablets. I bought my first tablet, an iPad 2, in the fall of 2011. I enjoyed playing casual games on it and writing the occasional email. But it was mostly used by my kids to watch Netflix or YouTube. At first I carried it nearly everywhere including church and work. The larger-than-my-phone screen was nice, but all-day battery life was its "killer app". 

But over the past year something strange happened: I stopped using my tablet. 

As I consider what factors lead to my abandoning the tablet, I wonder if others have experienced something similar. I've narrowed down the factors to the following:

1. My smartphone screen grew larger and battery life improved  
2. Multiple device management fatigue set in
3. Added a third screen to my Windows 8 PC

My smartphone is the device I carry with me everywhere I go. It's good at a lot of things such as texting, viewing emails, taking pictures and making the occasional call. It's great at participating in social activities such as Twitter and Facebook. 

But its screen is still too small for lengthy emails, writing blog posts or browsing the web for more than a few minutes. For those activities I prefer waiting till I'm at my PC. 

My PC excels where having a lot of screen real estate matters such as editing photos and videos or witing code or gaming. My phone excels at performing a number of smaller but no less important tasks, and it's always with me. 

My tablet? It filled this odd space between my phone and PC. My phone could do much of what it could do, and was smaller. But my tablet couldn't perform the tasks I rely on my PC to do. This winter I thought maybe I'd find a use for the smaller, more powerful iPad Mini with Retina display. It's a fantastic device, but after two weeks of sitting on my nightstand I decided to return it. As much as I wanted to find a spot for a tablet in my life, I couldn't do it. 

Intel would surely not agree with me because they showed people walking around their houses carrying 27-inch tablets on which to play board games or explore the galaxy as a family. Maybe Intel assumes a major breakthrough in voice recognition? I don't know. 

I would be foolish to attempt to predict the future. I never thought my kids would watch movies on their iPods, but they do. But when they need to write or research a report, they default to one of three PCs in our home running Windows 8. 

I wish Intel the best in selling tablets, but today they don't fit into my life. Managing a PC and a phone is plenty. In order for another device to make it into my life it would have to displace one of those two, and I don't see that happening anytime soon.