According to Mashable's Lauren Indvik, nearly half of Americans think that tablets like Apple's iPad will eventually replace laptops, including about a third of those 65 or older and 18 to 29. That may be because tablets are the microwave ovens of computing, as Matthew Guay put it, and are much easier and more convenient to use for most things ... even if there are some things they can't do at all.
So does that mean you don't have to bring your laptop on your next trip? Here's what you need to consider.
If you're a business traveler, chances are there's something you have to bring thanks to your company's IT department. Of course, chances are you're also bringing something else that gets the job done better, and it might as well be a tablet. Just check with IT first, to make sure their security policy allows it.
The iPad's iWork suite is more than capable of creating business documents and presentations, at any rate, although an external keyboard might help. Specialized line of business applications will still require a laptop, though, unless your company has iPad or tablet developers.
Lenovo does make a ThinkPad tablet, which combines a Trackpoint and keyboard with a ThinkPad take on the iPad's form factor. Since it's an Android tablet, though, it has far fewer tablet apps than the iPad does, and not many that are designed for the Trackpoint.
Home and student
Students don't have to worry as much about IT departments. But they do have to worry about their courseload, sometimes even while traveling. If Apple's new iBooks textbook initiative takes off, they might be able to bring their iPads instead of a thick book to study and do assignments with. On the other hand, since you'll basically have to have the iPad open to iBooks to read the textbook, trying to do your schoolwork on the same iPad might be hard even if you've got the apps for it.
If you don't need your laptop for school or for work, you might be able to answer the question just based on your needs and preferences. You already know that your laptop can do things your iPad or tablet can't. The only question is whether or not you'll miss them enough to justify adding six or more pounds to your travel weight. Especially on airplanes, and especially given what TSA screeners sometimes do to laptops.
A netbook or MacBook Air might seem like a good compromise. Just be aware of the ergonomics of being hunched over a tiny keyboard and screen for long periods of time.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
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