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Do Travelers Use Different Tablets from City Dwellers?



Does Travel Affect Your Tablet Choice?

There are millions of new tablets entering the marketplace every month, but we still can’t seem to agree on which tablets will sell best, how long the iPad will maintain its market dominance and what “next big thing” will break onto the scene. To me, the tablet market is more than just “Tablets for everyone”. That’s the one major flaw with the iPad – it tries to be everything to everyone and in the process leaves out certain features that would be useful for almost every demographic.

If you happen to own an iPad you probably have at least one or two major issues you’d like to see addressed at some point. A friend of mine was visiting just the other day and had made the switch from the iPad to a Galaxy Tab because it was smaller and lighter and offered 3G access for a significantly lower price (with data plan) than the iPad 2. They live in a rural area and as a result, the mobility and ease of carrying was an even bigger issue than for others.

A large percentage of the population – especially the iPad toting crowd – lives in major cities and as a result, a larger, heavier, WiFi device in the $500 range makes sense. But, if you spend a lot of time traveling and you’re unlikely to find WiFi access anywhere outside the confines of your own home, you likely want a device that is friendlier to your lifestyle.

What This Means Going Forward?

There are a few factors at play here. First, there is the issue of mobile broadband cost. The antenna in a 3G or 4G capable device certainly ups the price. WiFi only models of tablets are far outselling their 3G and 4G counterparts because the price is often $150 less – it’s an affordable device and those who have frequent WiFi access can afford to sacrifice a little bit of connectivity.

Eventually, 4G access will become far more standard and the technology will be more affordable – especially as so many people shift to smart phones. After the mobile technology issue, there is also the issue of size and weight. I talked at length on this one a couple weeks ago. People with different needs have different expectations for the size and mobility of their device.

A lot of people might be willing to carry a slightly larger tablet if it meant never again needing to carry a laptop for work tasks, but since few tablets offer that full office replacement toolset just yet, smaller is better for some people.

At the end of the day, it’s very much a matter of personal taste. Some people like small and compact – others want robust and spacious. But, how much you travel and where you live will have a big impact on which tablet makes the most sense to you, and will probably affect what devices become more popular in the future.




  1. lexuk

    05/08/2011 at 2:50 pm

    I travel with work and for myself, and my requirements are different for those two types of travel. When I’m working, I’m pretty busy so only need my personal gadget to let me check email, various websites, work out where’s good to go for dinner in whatever city I’m in, and be able to log in to skype from my hotel wifi. For personal travel, it’s all of the above but much more as my time is my own, so I want almost all of the applications I’d use when at home. I can only afford one device to cover those two requirements, though, so it’s a netbook at the moment – the smallest and lightest I could get that still runs my apps at a decent speed. I rarely use the netbook when at home, but I do take it with me on the train when commuting if I want to do some writing or other things that my android phone won’t help me with (I check mail / web / twitter on the train with the phone). So even when I’m acting as a ‘city dweller’ I haven’t yet found a tablet that meets my needs.

  2. Alain Chappaz

    05/09/2011 at 3:37 pm

    Hmmm, I like 7- and 8.9-inch formats to carry around and be productive. Call me dull and old-fashioned, but my idea of excitement was (at last!) the general availability of the HP Slate. Don’t get me wrong, Android makes for a fun bauble (I have and use an Android tablet), but nothing comes close to real, honest-to-god handwritin’ recognizin’ Windows 7 in order to get the job done. Guess the 10-inch Fuji Q550 would be OK too, but as far as I’m concerned, no 12-inch device need apply…

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