/ Technology

How do you use your tablet computer?


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

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Thanks to all who’ve shared their feedback so far – these comments are really appreciated 😀

Cheree says:
9 June 2015

I use mine for reading emails and newsletters as well. It’s rare that I’d ever write or reply to an email on it though. I also sometimes use it for looking at Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re into tablets, you may be interested in our latest tablet speed test

*teaser: Apple doesn’t do as well as you’d expect*

I don’t see lots of Microsoft tablets in the current Best Buys table. Fortunately Which? looks at more than processor speed, as pointed out in the video.

Brian Jones says:
13 June 2015

My tablet has given my ageing hi fi system a new lease of life. I purchased a bluetooth receiver which is plugged into a spare input socket on the amplifier, paired it to my tablet and I can now fill my lounge with the sound of internet radio stations, spotify etc. Saves buying a digital or internet tuner.

michael mckee says:
14 June 2015

I’ve used an iPad for 3 years now but have replaced it with the smallest MacBook Air. With an added iPad keyboard the weight is similar, and a USB cellular stick gives me the same portability. I imagine that a Windows ultrabook would offer similar benefits.

With phones getting larger (I’m using a Nexus 5), it’s easy to check email and social media as well as doing quick research. It’s also large enough to read novels on and watch video. The tablet has fallen into a crack and been passed on to my mother.

OTH, my wife only uses her iPad and her iMac is mostly for backups.

Bernard Farrant says:
16 June 2015

My tablet – Samsung Galaxy 3 – is synced with my Kindle for reading ebooks, and I also use it to borrow books from Norfolk County Library service (via Overdrive). I’m 80, and appreciate not always having to go to the library for a book.

davidck005 says:
24 June 2015

I don’t need a tablet, I use an 11.6 inch touch screen Windows 8 laptop for home and travelling, watching films on flights etc which boots up in less than 12 seconds, and a Windows 8 smartphone which has all my website bookmarks sync’d from my laptop. Tablets boot faster and have fewer problems but are frustratingly restricted.

[Hi David, we’ve tweaked your username so you’re not posting personal details. You can have a read through our commenting guidelines, here. Thanks, mods]

I have downloaded my JW.ORG library to my tablet so no longer need to carry heavy bible and other publications to the services.

The use of tablets has good scriptural provenance. It is said that Moses had two.

It’s interesting to see that the majority of you use your tablets for multimedia purposes – Whether it’s browsing the internet, or watching films to using apps. It’s far easier to access certain things while o-the-go using the device 🙂

Roger Hayes says:
28 July 2015

Main use for my Apple iPad is emails and browsing the net, BBC being the site I use most. I use some apps but not many. I usually find that going to the website itself is better.