Just a short few months ago the media was full of disparaging comments about tablet computers. Apple's introduction of the iPad was seen as product without a market. Commentators (most of whom now probably own tablet computers) were certain that no one would buy the product because it was neither a full blown computer (whatever that is) nor was it a smartphone. Some pundits predicted that the devices wouldn't sell because they would not fit in a pocket.
Meanwhile, all of the criticism aside, Apple has gone on to ship 9.3 million iPads during the second quarter of 2011, helping it to secure 68.3 percent market share. Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-20106090-17/tablet-shipments-jump-304-percent-in-second-quarter/#ixzz1YGo5ebGg In addition, over 62.5 million tablet computers will be in stores in 2011 and this is a huge market segment.
Since genealogy is such a data intensive pursuit, it is natural that genealogists in general would be interested in faster and more versatile technology. One example of the acceptance of genealogists of new technology is the rapid infiltration of the Google+ social networking site by genealogists. Meanwhile, there are still articles out there asking questions like whether or not you can do "real" genealogy on a tablet computer.
As I sit here writing this post, my wive is working on her iPad which has a fully functional bluetooth keyboard integrated as part of the case. Although she is an extremely capable computer users, you could hardly classify her as an early adopter. Notwithstanding that fact, the iPad has nearly revolutionized her interaction and use of computers. She does complain that using her fingers to move things around and work on the screen is awkward and I would have to agree. Despite the ads, it not intuitive to use most of the so-called gestures, but once learned, the iPad or other copy-cat types of tablets are not toys, especially if linked to a keyboard, they are serious computers. Would I give up my MacBook Pro for an iPad, not hardly. But I would use an iPad for a lot of tasks that I normally would not have done on a computer at all.
Because of its portability, the iPad (and even more the iPad 2) is much more convenient to carry than a laptop. You can use an iPad in places that it would be inconvenient to use a laptop. I can not claim to have converted over from my iPhone to an iPad, I find phone does all that I need outside of using my MacBook Pro, but I have enough of my friends and family members using them to indicate to me that they are not a passing fad. If may well be with the addition of more peripherals, that tablet computers (an iPad 3 or whatever) may become a viable alternative to a laptop.
What about the future? Will any of the non-Apple tablet computers take over number one from Apple? It could happen. But the possibility appears remote. Will non-Apple tablets continue to sell, yes, based on price alone. Will you be able to do serious data entry on a tablet? It could happen, but is not presently a viable alternative. If you bought a tablet computer, would you be a happy user? Very, very likely.