Are tablet-keyboard combos potential laptop killers?

The development of the transistor and microprocessor revolutionised the way computing was done. Computers became much smaller as compared to the massive vacuum tube computers of yore.

A new trend is slowly making its way into daily computing – the tablet mated with a keyboard case. They are much lighter than laptops. The keyboard part of it, in some cases, can be detached from the tablet, which can be used for casual browsing. This kind of a setup is good for those people who like to carry their gadgets around for casual browsing or office work. The key is low weight.

For those who prefer Apple products, there is a wide choice of keyboards or keyboard-cases for easy typing. Take for instance the Apple keyboard-case itself or products from companies like Logitech, Belkin, Zagg, Incipio and several others. Armed with an Apple pencil, it could make for a very comfortable web surfing experience.

Now, one would ask if an iPad and a keyboard can really replace a full-blown laptop. It could, to a large extent. The latest iPad devices come with good processors (A12X Bionic chip) that can handle quite a bit of data processing. Additionally, the iPad Pro is available with about 1 TB of storage space.

The recently-launched Google Pixel Slate comes with good processors, with even the Intel i7 being an option. The i7 is a full-blown processor that can be used for gaming desktops. So, there can never be any doubt about the processing power. This has been launched in the US, Canada and the UK for now.

The Slate can be mated with a Google keyboard, which even has a trackpad. So, this combination can be as good as a proper laptop.

It could be hard to consider the Microsoft Surface Pro (or the Surface Go) a complete tablet plus keyboard-case arrangement like the other two examples. However, the light weight of these devices plus the presence of a trackpad makes them another viable option.

Now, a question would naturally arise about connectivity. While Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are standard ways of connecting between devices or to the internet, it is the hardware connectivity that may be a bit of a compromise.

The iPad has a USB Type-C connector only. This sounds like a bit of a limitation in terms of physical connectivity but it’s not the end of the world if one needs a lightwight (468 and 633 grams for the two models) option. This will set you back anything from Rs 50,000 to more than a lakh depending on the specifications.

The Pixel Slate features two Type-C connectors and two is definitely better than one. At a weight of 731 grams, it’s not too bad either. Again, this will cost between £549 (about Rs 50,000) and £1,549 (about Rs 1.4 lakh). This has not been listed on the India site yet.

The Surface machines are better in terms of physical connectivity with a full-sized USB 3.0 port, microSDXC card reader, 3.5mm stereo jack and Mini DisplayPort. This can cost between about Rs 50,000 and 2.2 lakh.

These options are particularly good for say, a photographer, who will already have a bagful of heavy equipment and can very well do without the additional weight of a laptop. Or if one has an older laptop that is heavy and carrying it around is difficult, the above or similar options can be considered.

The point is that small and light appears to be the future, even if it means compromising on a few features available in regular laptops.

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Are tablet-keyboard combos potential laptop killers?

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