A blog about books and reading. How very original!

The Appeal Of Tablet Computers

Tablet Computers Are A Popular Choice

ipad tablet computerTablet computers are, for many people, the number one computing choice right now. They make up more than 50% of computer sales, outselling laptops and desktops combined. When you bear in mind that they first appeared when Apple launched the iPad in 2010, that’s an amazing result.

Personally speaking, I like to use an e-reader for reading – but I still have a tablet which I use for just about everything else. They really are very handy gadgets and amazingly portable. I had thought that my laptop was a portable device before I got a tablet – but it has a whole bunch of peripherals; cables, mouse, laptop cooling pad etc. that really need to go with it for anything but short term use – until I got my tablet.

And portability is just one of the reasons why tablet computers are so popular. Most people find touchscreen interfaces very easy and intuitive to use these days – much more so than a QWERTY keyboard and mouse. A lot of people who wouldn’t normally sit down at a desktop or laptop will quite happily pick up a tablet and start swiping, poking and prodding away.

I actually sat in my living room fairly recently and watched my two nieces and my mother-in-law all hunched over a tablet computer on the sofa. The age range ran from 4 to 78 years – and they all have their own tablets which they use regularly.

I thought that it was a nice little tableau and a very good illustration of the huge age range that tablets appeal to. I know that my mother-in-law wouldn’t go near a desktop or laptop, and I suspect that my nieces wouldn’t be allowed to.

Tablets can be very educational for children, there are all sorts of apps on the market and parental controls can ensure that the little ones don’t wind up in the wrong place or view inappropriate material. At the other end of the scale, tablet computers for seniors are a great idea. They can offer older family members a whole new window on the world and let them keep up with current affairs, watch movies, keep in touch with friends and family and even play games.


Tablet computers really are fun for all ages – and that’s another important part of tablet’s appeal; tablet computers are fun. At the moment, the large majority of tablet computer purchases are for personal use – and most users intend to use them for entertainment – watching movies, playing games, hanging out on social networks, that sort of thing.

Some people (the more grumpy and serious ones) will point out that you can’t be as productive using a tablet as you can with a laptop. That’s perfectly correct of course, but it’s missing the point – tablets are not meant to be productive, they are for fun – which is just one more reason why people like them so much. After all, who wants to open up a humungous spreadsheet when you could be watching a movie or fragging some bad guys?

Tablet computers are becoming more accepted in the corporate world these days, so you might see them becoming a bit more serious (and productive) over the next year or so. It’s not out of the question that Windows tablets could get a bit of a leg up as business types want to interface with their already existing software, apps and documents. However, for the moment, tablet computers are very much for personal fun time! Maybe it’s not so surprising that so many people like them after all.

Differences Between E-Readers And Tablet Computers


Amazon Kindle Voyage E-ReaderAs a keen reader, I’m a big fan of e-readers – although I do know that they may not be everybody’s cup of tea. Some people – bibliophiles in the strictest sense of the word – still prefer to use paper books. Each to his/her own.

For myself, the convenience of carrying huge numbers of books with me wherever I go on a device that is small, lightweight and has a battery life measured in weeks, far outweighs any nostalgic notions I may have for “real” books.

The fact that the e-ink display is great to read on is the most important thing of course. I find it very natural and when I’m enjoying a good book, I’m not even aware that I’m using an electronic gadget rather than reading a traditional book. To be honest, I find traditional books heavy and cumbersome these days, I definitely prefer an e-reader.

E-Readers And Tablet Computers

Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet computerI like tablet computers as well as e-readers, but I really only use them for playing games, surfing the net, sending e-mails etc. I would never sit down to read an e-book on a tablet.

The back-lit colour screen of a tablet computer is great for videos, gaming and general internet stuff, but I find that reading a book is much less pleasant on an LCD screen. I saw someone describe this as “like trying to read when someone is shining a light in your eyes”, and I would concur.

It’s certainly possible to read on a tablet, but, for me at least, it’s something that I would only do for a few minutes at a time. If I want to settle down and lose myself in a good book for an hour or so, then I’m going to get my e-reader rather than my tablet.

With that being said, my son has both an e-reader and a tablet and he reads on his tablet all the time. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all – so maybe it’s just my old eyes.

Whether the reaction to the display is age dependant or not, there are some further distinctions between e-readers and tablets.

E-Readers Tablet Computers
  • E-ink technology display.
  • Monochrome display.
  • Read in bright sunlight or in a darkened room (readers with lights only).
  • Battery life measured in weeks.
  • Great for reading for lengthy periods. No eye strain.
  • “Experimental” web browsing at best.
  • No video playback.
  • Light and portable (8 ounces or less is typical).
  • Relatively cheap (plenty available for less than $ 100)
  • Back-lit LCD display.
  • Color display.
  • Read in a dark room, but may have glare in bright sunlight.
  • Battery life measured in hours.
  • Not well suited for lengthy reading sessions – back-lit screen might cause eye strain.
  • Brilliant for browsing.
  • Great video playback.
  • Still portable but heavier (e.g. iPad Air 1 lb).
  • Currently a little pricey.

E-readers are specialised devices. They excel at one thing and one thing only – letting you read books. They are a much better choice if you want to read.

Tablet computers are great, super versatile all round devices. They are much more powerful (and more expensive) than e-readers, but while they can do a lot of things that e-readers can’t, reading on them for more than a few minutes at a time isn’t anywhere near as enjoyable as it is when using an e-reader.

Thankfully, it’s not an either/or choice. Prices of both e-readers and tablets have fallen to the point where you can very easily get one of each. Both devices are also small enough and light enough that you could carry one of each without putting too much strain on either your back or your hand luggage allowance.

The short video below summarises the benefits of e-readers very well: