Tablets Still Cannot Replace Laptop, Desktop PCs: 10 Reasons Why

NEWS ANALYSIS: Tablets are certainly popular and have been cutting into notebook sales, but they can’t entirely replace the full range of PCs from laptops to desktops.

The rise of tablets has been well-documented in the mobile space. Slates such as Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 and the Google Nexus 10 have grabbed PC buyers' attention and dollars.

PC vendors, offering notebooks and desktops, have seen their shipments drop as tablet sales have steadily increased. Things were so bad for PC vendors in 2012 that tablet shipments actually outpaced notebooks for the first time ever.

That performance, along with the continued success of Apple’s iPad, has prompted many to speculate that tablets are slowly but surely replacing larger PC models. It’s the Post-PC Era, some say, and it’s time for vendors across the globe to accept that and adapt to it.

But that logic might not actually hold up. Although tablets are growing in popularity, they still aren’t powerful or capable enough to replace PCs. Despite calls to the contrary, tablets cannot–and will not–replace PCs.

These are the reasons why.

1. Component power

Over the last few years, mobile components running in tablets have gained in power. However, processors such as Nvidia’s Tegra 3 or Apple’s A6X still pale in comparison to the power delivered in PC chips from Intel or AMD. Until that changes, tablets can never replace PCs for the power-hungry users among us.

2. App availability

Apple’s App Store currently offers more than 800,000 applications. And although many of them are worthwhile downloads, few actually deliver the complexity and sophistication customers would find in Windows or OS X. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the comparison of Office on mobile and PCs. Until apps gain in sophistication, mobile can never keep up.

3. Virtual keyboards aren’t universally beloved

The problem with all tablets is that they come with virtual keyboards. And although more people are warming to virtual keys, there are still many folks around the globe that like having the standard physical keyboard found in PCs. And why not? Typing on traditional keyboards with two hands is far more accurate and efficient.

4. Windows is the enterprise’s favorite

The enterprise is adopting tablets at a rapid rate. But that doesn’t mean that the corporate world is ready to drop Windows for iOS or Android. In fact, Windows is still the most important software solution for enterprise users. Granted, Microsoft is bringing Windows to tablets, but for now, those products aren’t proving popular. Until they do catch on, PCs will win out.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...