Tablet Computers - The Rise of the Machines

Enter the Apple iPad. Then the Samsung Galaxy. Then Dell. Then HP.

We’re seeing a real-world “Rise of the Machines” here.

With so many choices of tablet PCs that are so darned capable the question must be asked; do you still need a computer?

For many home users the answer will be no. With a tablet PC you can surf the web, send and receive email, manage your pictures, watch a movie or two or ten, play games and even have a video chat.

There are tens of thousands of tablet computer apps (read: software applications) that can do almost everything conventional computer software can do.

Based on this, a tablet personal computer is more than sufficient for 95% of all computer users.

They’re also cheaper. Way cheaper.

Consider: a 16 GB Apple iPad (Wifi only) is $499. It’s your computer and your monitor and comes with all the essential software most home computer users are likely to need. Your new iPad will (probably) never need AntiVirus software, likely never need a “PC Tune Up” or the services of a computer geek like me. Over the life of the product you’re saving hundreds of dollars on unnecessary software packages and computer repair fees. And for most people the 16GB model gives them all the storage space they’ll ever need.

For the same $499 you can buy a super-basic Dell desktop computer and 19″ monitor.

But don’t forget the annual internet security software costs, the inevitable computer repairs it will need (if only to remove spyware and viruses), oh and your desktop PC stays right where it is. It’s not mobile like an iPad.

Want a more suitable comparison? A Netbook specced out to perform like an iPad will likely cost $549. Plus Internet security software, annual computer geek technical support bills, etc. etc.

Inside of five years I can easily see an iPad paying for itself just in terms of cost savings compared to the cost of ownership of a desktop PC, laptop or netbook.

Now if you’re a professional and run an office or a business, an tablet computer might not be for you – yet.

Especially if you run very specialized software. CPAs, attorneys and medical practices are a few special cases that come to mind where owning a computer may still be necessary – for now.

For everyone else, you can get almost all the functionality you’re ever likely to need “from the cloud.”

What’s the cloud? Cloud Computing (it’s formal name) is the future. Cloud computing is Google Apps, Google Docs, QuickBooks Online Edition, Zoho office suite, CRM and productivity tools and Microsoft’s recent entry into cloud computing.

In a future post I’ll delve into the details of cloud computing but for now please settle for this brief summary:

Cloud computing eliminates the need to own a big, powerful computer to run the software you need. Servers on the Internet (“the cloud”) serve up your software boiling it all down to you needing nothing more than a web browser to do all your work, bill your clients, process customer payments and all the rest.

And guess what? Every Tablet Computer can surf the web.

So, do you still need a computer?