The Decline of the Android Tablet

Ultimately, I think that tablets, at least in the Android world, will vanish. Well, maybe not to total extinction, but they’ll disappear. That’s because Android sucks on tablets.

Android Tablet

I’ve thought about the demise of the Android tablet for awhile (and ultimately how Chromebooks will emerge as victor). There’s no better example than the pitiful state of Android apps for lawyers.

A post from an Android developer I follow on Google+ raises a different issue.

I wholly agree with Keyan, but also think the problem expands beyond media.

The problem with media consumption

Yes, I guess it’s time to grab the pitch forks. But the fact remains that I don’t consume that much media from my tablet. In fact, I’d have to say that my three most used devices for media are my Nexus 5, Chromecast, and Chromebook.

I have several movies downloaded to my ASUS Transformer Infinity tablet for viewing while I’m traveling; but that tablet’s sitting on my entertainment center not even charged. Now my Nexus 7 gets a little more playing time, though I can’t justify carrying around a tablet simply for playing movies on a larger screen. Similarly, at home or at the office, I’d rather view media on my big screen television, versus a 7 or 10 inch tablet (not to mention my Nexus 5’s micro-sized screen.)

Admittedly, I’ll occasionally lay in bed and watch a movie or YouTube clip, but that’s a rare instance.

But what about books?

Books might be the one area where I can see an argument for the value of tablets. I love the Kindle app, and I regularly read the latest fiction or non-fiction work with my Android tablet.

However, I’m more inclined to read important things on paper versus the tablet. Similarly, I could easily read the book in paperback or on my smaller Nexus 5 screen.

Tablets and productivity

No doubt, tablets increase productivity, at least to a small extent. I know several lawyers who tote their tablet to the office and use them as a second computer screen. There are other attorneys whose sole mobile computing device is their 10 inch tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard.

That’s an expensive monitor or laptop.

Considering the relatively low cost of computer monitors and Chromebooks, you’re paying a premium on price to screen ratio. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (arguably the best Android tablet on the market right now) costs $497 on Amazon. The tablet’s awesome, but you’re paying almost $50 per inch for a 10 inch screen. And don’t forget Google’s Nexus 7 — that’s almost $40 per inch — or Nexus 10 ($40 per inch).

Compare that with the cost of an Acer ($179/$229), Samsung 2 ($299), or HP ($279 and 14-inch screen). Now you’ve lowered your costs to about $30 per inch with a generally equivalent device. Plus, with the tablet, you still need to purchase a keyboard.

Of course, some readers will argue that tablets give you more mobility, easily connect to the internet or other media, and generally improve productivity. I could say the same about Chromebooks.

Chromebooks feature HDMI, VGA, and USB interfaces, and accept SD cards for media transfer. Additionally, I can create documents using Google Docs, show off presentations (and cast the presentation), and generally perform each function a tablet can, for less money.

The tablet demise is inevitable

Given comparable available alternatives to tablets, it’s no wonder Google hasn’t showcased a new Nexus 10 replacement. Quite simply, the cost to value ratio is too low.

What do you think? Am I off my rocker? Or am I right? Is there a happy medium between oblivion and over-indulgence? Are you one who mass consumes media on your Android tablet? Let me know in the comments.

8 Responses to The Decline of the Android Tablet

  1. Nobody is spending $500 on a tablet. Max $200 which is still reasonable. Don’t forget how great they are for kids and/or travel. I have a ton of movies on an SD card for travel entertainment for my son. It’s also great for Netflix at the gym or steaming music to a Bluetooth speaker, so you aren’t tying up your phone. I also find that it’s much easier to show in court videos from than a laptop. Android will continue to evolve and get better and more useful.

    • I know a lot of folks who purchased tablets well over $200 (unsubsidized). I don’t know of any good tablets (size and specs) that aren’t $200+.

      Travel-wise they’re convenient, but probably not worth the cost for a few road trips per year. Certainly there are smaller, cheaper options.

  2. Jeff, I agree with you. I love my iPad but use it almost extensively for web browsing at the kitchen counter, in my study, or in the bed room. I do take it into client meetings so I can access some info in a pinch and schedule follow up meetings via iCloud but that is the extent of my business use. When I need to review and revise documents out of the office, I take my laptop.

  3. Until they make a chromebook with a detachable screen that I can use like a tablet, I’ll pass. I have a TF701, and I use it as much without the keyboard dock as I do with it. In court = no keyboard (mostly). Out of court = keyboard (again, mostly). Dragging the keyboard out in the hall to show a client, “Look right here. You have a warrant in X County!” is a bit unwieldy. And it’s a lot nicer to be able to hand the judge a tablet to prove to him somebody is in jail. And there are other issues.

    Sorry, I need a tablet, not a laptop.

  4. My situation is somewhat different. I have an ASUS Transformer T300 (now over a year old), and it’s proved invaluable in making my morning and evening bus commute and my lunch hour productive on projects unrelated to my day job. A full-fledged laptop is out of the question for daily use – higher cost, risky balancing on my lap in a bouncy bus, and decreased portability all argue against a laptop. I can use the ASUS as a tablet in situations where I can’t physically use a laptop and can connect the keyboard when I’m a more conducive environment (restaurant table, break room, etc.) For what I need, a tablet is ideal.

  5. I don’t believe that Android tablets will ever disappear. I think some people over-reacted when tablets became a really hot commodity that everyone had to have. Folks began to predict the demise of the desktop, since arguably you could do most of the same things with a tablet while still being mobile. I think that as the industry matures though, folks are beginning to realize that there are some things that tablets excel at and some that they do not. Personally, I love having my tablet for digital file retrieval. When I go to a mediation or deposition, I only take a legal pad for note-taking and my tablet for all of my file materials. All of my documents are digital so I don’t have to lug around an accordion folder, or worse, a banker’s box full of paper. My Android tablet (a cheap Chinese version from a brand no one has ever heard of) has been invaluable in this regard, and I will continue to use a tablet for this purpose as long as I can.

Let's discuss this (you can use Markdown in your comment)

Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.