The most successful gadget of the past two years is the iPad and the slate tablet concept in general. It’s the kind of concept people want when they see it, but haven’t asked for it before.
Slate tablets are not just tablet PCs without a keyboard. In layman’s terms they’re more like giant smartphones, as the components inside are borrowed from cellphones, not computers. But thanks to the increased available space performance is higher.
Slate tablets are the proud child of Apple, the company who build the iPad and marketed it as a post-PC era device. This of course made PC makers concerned; as such that Intel founded this year a 300 million dollars initiative towards another concept, the ultrabook.
In this case the ultrabook is nothing more than a Windows laptop, very slim and fast at the same time, but not a new concept, as Apple was once again the one to build the MacBook Air a few years ago, an ultraslim laptop which can fit into a Manila envelope.
This year’s ultrabooks are meant to fight the slate tablet and Apple’s MacBook Air at the same time. They’re cheaper than the latter and provide more functionality than the former while delivering the same kind of performance. Let’s analyze this fight below:
What do ultrabooks have and tablets don’t
Even if for some consumers slate tablets offer everything they’ve ever wanted, the truth is that an ultrabook is a more versatile computer. You can do everything you can do on a tablet and on a desktop with an ultrabook without taking too much impact in terms of added weight (ultrabooks tend to be twice the weight of tablets, or around one pound heavier).
With an ultrabook you can do more than content consumption: you can create, and that’s something people don’t forget easily, especially when it comes to business users.
Don’t forget the keyboard, one of the most important parts in the productivity equation. While teenagers are pretty used to virtual keyboards, they can’t type as fast as a touch typist. This is probably the biggest difference that will ensure tablets won’t completely take over consumer preferences.
Another advantage for ultrabooks, worth mentioning, refers to connectivity options, as you get more ports, faster ones and generally more options of interconnectivity. In a word, ultrabooks are more ‘complete’, if you allow me the comparison.
What do tablets have and ultrabooks don’t
Now that we’ve seen where ultrabook prevail, let’s take a look at slate tablets too and try and understand what they’re so successful. First and foremost there’s the mobility factor, as tablets are way more portable and easier to carry around thanks to their slim profile and light footprint.
Add the 10+ hours of battery life for most models and you’ll see they’re the perfect device for road warriors. Another thing that people like about tablets is performance, as everything is optimized for low consumption, so the general feeling is snappiness, not sluggishness you get from a similarly priced computer.
One of the disadvantages of tablets turned out to be actually an advantage: small screen with low resolution has pushed developers to customize apps for the available space. That’s why using a tablet feels more optimized than when using a normal computer.
And lastly there’s the price issue: a high end ultrabook costs seriously over 1000 bucks, going as high as 1500 in some cases (MacBook Air for example), while a good tablet can be purchased for 400-500 dollars.
Who will win?
This is the simple question that doesn’t have a simple answer. Personally I believe in the next couple of years ultrabooks and tablets will see a coexistence where consumers decide what to get based on their needs.
Nobody knows what will happen in the long term, where possibly other computer concepts will make it to market.