Do I Need A Tablet

Do I need a tablet?

They are definitely hot. At least 20 million people in the last year have decided they needed a tablet computer (15 million of the sales belonging to Apple's iPad). Consumers are voting with their wallets. But why are they so popular? You can perform some of the same tasks on your smart phone. Probably do a whole lot more on your laptop. So what‚'s the big deal?

Perhaps the best analogy to describe the need for tablets, like the iPad, can be credited to tech writer Matthew Guay — it's the microwave oven of computing. Microwave ovens were introduced in 1967 as a revolutionary appliance that could heat food faster and use less energy. The microwave wasn't better at cooking than the oven, but consumers soon realized that it simplified simple cooking. The microwave became popular and people began finding new ways to use this new piece of technology.

This is where the tablet stands today.

The tablet doesn't need to perform all the same tasks as a desktop PC or a laptop. The proof? 80 percent of early iPad adopters reported a very satisfied rating on their purchase, according to a study published last year by NPD Group. Consumers brought home their iPad's and (in the words of Steve Jobs) something "magical" happened. People found that reading ebooks, surfing the web and checking their emails from their iPad on the couch was great. And, other things they did like creating with painting applications, making music with virtual instruments and learning with educational applications was actually better on the iPad vs. the traditional PC with a screen, keyboard, and mouse. And with over 400,000 applications available on Apple's app store, the iPad has the potential to become better at many more activities.

So, do you need one? I guess it depends. Do you need a microwave?