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Tablets Become Swiss Army Knife of Gadgets



Tablets like the iPad aren’t replacing laptops on the whole, but the new couch companion devices are taking over many of the activities we used to do on dedicated devices. Are you converging like the survey respondents?

Tablet Replacement Trend Chart

Tablet Replacement Trend Chart - Millenialmedia

Millenialmedia reports that the tablet is now the go to device for several computer activities, but that’s not all. The tablet is also a hot place to watch TV shows or read eBooks, over the HDTV or the Kindle.

As you can see in the chart, thanks to apps, the tablet is quickly becoming the swiss army knife of gadgets.

  • 19% of tablet users are watching TV and movies on their tablet, instead of a HDTV
  • 27% are browsing on their tablet instead of their PC
  • 27% are watching less videos on their computer
  • 29% are doing less email on their computer
  • 23% are using a dedicated eReader less
These trends reflect my anecdotal use, and I would even add a reduction in games played on consoles to the list. Below you’ll find my favorite apps for using my iPad 2 to partially replace my computer, HDTV and a dedicated eReader.

How I Use My iPad to Replace Many Gadgets

Watching TV Shows and Movies – For this I use Netflix, Hulu Plus, TW Cable and occasionally I will rent a show through iTunes. If it is good enough I will purchase a season pass to the show. I have replaced all of my non-living room TV watching with the iPad. Even when there is a slightly larger HDTV, the proximity of the iPad and ability to watch without disturbing others wins out.

Browsing the Web – I still use Safari as my main browser on the iPad, but when I want to relax and get feeds that are interesting without searching and sorting I turn to Zite.

Web Video – If I want to watch a video on YouTube, the tablet is my first reach, mostly because it is always nearby.

Email – As far as email goes, I still use the Gmail website, except for emails from students which get routed to Mail via exchange. I love how fast I can sort through and respond to simple emails on the iPad. For all but long responses it is much quicker on the iPad than on my notebooks.

Reading eBooks – I never owned a dedicated eBook reader to replace, but you can bet it would be gathering dust if I had one. I use the Kindle app to read most of my books, mainly because it allows me to keep them in sync across all of my devices. I also use CourseSmart to read Textbooks and prepare lesson plans.


I don’t foresee a tablet replacing any of these devices in my life completely, but I imagine that I will be using my tablet more and more to replace part of what I do on other gadgets and devices. The new ThinkPad Tablet with Android and a ThinkPad keyboard case might help me move some more of my creation to the tablet, but for now a notebook still wins out.

Are you shifting to your tablet for more activities? Have you completely replaced a gadget?



  1. Steve New

    07/20/2011 at 5:28 pm

    I have a 7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab and while I don’t use it for watching television or movies I do use it for all the other activities, at home and mobile.

    One activity not mentioned that I also use the Tab for is photography.  It’s not a DSLR but I can get photos at least as good as with a point and shoot.

  2. Willem Evenhuis

    07/20/2011 at 7:10 pm

    It is perhaps becoming an all in one device, because of its formfactor, hardware content and mobility, just like a pocket knife. So perhaps its not a surprise this trend will continue, just like the popularity of the swiss army knife. But when it comes to a movie, a tablet cannot beat a movie theater experience. It also can’t beat a real physical book for somes serious studying….unless more effort is put to a more inking friendly user interface.

  3. Han

    07/21/2011 at 2:29 pm

    I love mine for personal use, but I’ve yet to find anything truly useful that can be done with one in an office environment. You have your desktop computers (or laptops) at your desk, conference rooms already have computers hooked up to projectors. VPN apps are okay for light work and consumption. But right now, I don’t see why execs want to push tablet procurement initiatives, other than to have a toy for themselves that the company pays for.

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