Rant: Don’t Blame the Tablet Because You Suck

Rob and Warner have both tip-toed around Jeremy Toeman’s op-ed piece, “The Tablet That Nobody Really Wants “ I prefer a more direct approach. Here’s my take on Toeman’s main points (in bold).

Tablets suck at handwriting recognition. No, you suck at handwriting. Even Windows XP TPC Edition does a solid job of recognizing my finely crafted pen strokes. Don’t blame the tablet because you’ve let your penmanship lapse.

Tablets suck to carry around. No, it’s no worse than carrying around a laptop, but you don’t need to hunt for a flat surface to rest it on once you stop. If there are no seats left at the coffee shop, I can start working on my Tablet PC standing up. I’ve logged on to the hotspot while standing in line and started getting things done before ordering my drink. It’s as cumbersome to carry as a regular laptop, except it’s usable while being carried.

Tablets make you tired. No, you tire easily because you’re a wuss. Carrying a tablet and making use of more of your arms than just your wrists and fingers would help fix that and maybe give you those Tom Cruise biceps you mentioned.

Tablets can’t share nicely with others. Except if you’re using shared notebooks in OneNote or Evernote, jotting notes in a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, shooting inked email in Outlook, annotating in Acrobat Standard, or just using handwriting recognition to enter text the old-fashioned way. Oh, and you can also just draw pictures for people, like directions and technical instructions.

Tablets suck at hiding smudges. You’re the one with poor personal hygiene and bad eating habits. Don’t blame the tablet because you don’t wipe or wash your hands after eating french fries.

Tablets are bad Web browsers. Clearly you’ve never used a Tablet PC with Firefox tricked out with FireGestures and Grab & Drag with ritePen macros for regular bookmarks. Yeah, if I’m writing something like a response to someone with no tablet experience, then typing on a full keyboard wins. However, for straight browsing, I will pit the pen against the mouse any day of the week, and the trackpad isn’t even a contender. I think the highly favorable reaction to web surfing on the iPhone proves a touchscreen can deliver an awesome web browsing experience.

Tablets are priced poorly. Fine, you got me there, but the price premium for a good tablet is worth it to me.

Tablets suck at everything else. IM? Maybe. I don’t IM. Video chat? What, a screen with a camera won’t work well for video chat? Spreadsheets? I’ve actually worked with spreadsheets by pen, and it can be a very good experience. Setting up a spreadsheet with formulas, conditional formatting, etc., does require a good sitdown at the keyboard. But after that, entering data into cells by pen is very simple. Tap cells to select. Usually not a lot of text. Numbers can be quickly tapped out on the TIP keypad. Bonus: the eraser on a Wacom pen can be used to clear cells.

Yes, sadly, I think Toeman has revealed himself as yet another critic who sits at a keyboard typing in English all day, someone who would gain no benefit from a tablet, and lacks the imagination to see beyond his condition. Try working a complex math equation on a keyboard. Let’s see you write kanji with that mouse. Show me some real copy editing annotations. Draw someone a map. Write a loved one a letter. But please, do not blame the tablet because you suck at doing things that don’t involve typing. Thank you.