More than half of UK homes now own a tablet PC – just five years after the most popular tablet, the iPad, was launched. Is yours an all-singing life essential or just something you look at occasionally to read the news?
I’m in the age group that, according to Ofcom, most love their tablets. Nearly two thirds of people aged 35-54 have one – including me. But I find that I don’t use it half as much or for half the things that I thought I would.
The all-singing, all-dancing tablet
From the way they’re advertised, you’d think we would all be spending our time using our tablets to learn a musical instrument or paint a masterpiece. In fact one of Britain’s most famous living artists, David Hockney, used his index finger as a paintbrush to produce works of art on his iPad, many of which were later exhibited. Some of my Which? colleagues even had a go.
Hmm… hearing about features like that make me feel a bit guilty (I’m Catholic – it doesn’t take much). I know the iPad can do loads. Yes, it’s an entertainment centre. Hooray. Yes, it can probably teach me how to salsa or speak Gaelic. Great. But, to be honest, mine usually lies on the sofa like a dog pleading to be taken for a walk…
I’ll use it to search the internet, read a few newspaper articles online and that’s about it. Sometimes I feel it’s a bit like having a high-performance car you only use to go down to the shops.
So how do others use theirs?
How do people really use their tablets?
I took a quick poll around Which? HQ. I found no master artists – reading the news, shopping and surfing the net were the most popular answers. Along with a way to keep the kids happy. Use as an online recipe book was also mentioned.
This chimed pretty well with research we carried out with Which? members last year, who saw it as a passive device – for ‘receiving’ and ‘watching’ rather than ‘doing’. ‘Doing’ was seen as the laptop’s role. A tablet’s not for serious tasks, they suggested.
Many said that their tablet’s main advantage was that it was easy to use and you didn’t have to sit around ‘waiting for it to boot up’.
Tablets on the rise
In 2011 just 2% of households owned a tablet. Now that figure is 54% and the trend looks set to continue – 21% of households currently without a tablet told Ofcom they were likely to get one within the next 12 months.
To put that in context, the TV only found its way into 75% of homes in 1961 – a much longer period since its invention.
So do you own a tablet? If yes, what do you use it for?
What do you use your tablet for?
Web browsing (28%, 939 Votes)
Using apps (17%, 550 Votes)
Watching films/TV shows/YouTube videos (14%, 462 Votes)
Reading books (11%, 376 Votes)
Education (7%, 241 Votes)
Navigation (7%, 232 Votes)
Gaming (6%, 211 Votes)
Writing (5%, 168 Votes)
Other (please tell us in the comments below) (4%, 139 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,035