I might have to bite the bullet and get a tablet

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m cheap, or because I’m resistant to change, but it often takes me a while to embrace new technology. Even through college, I still had my old vacuum-tube television set; I did not splurge on a high-definition flat-screen until after I had won a nice jackpot in Las Vegas. I didn’t get my first smart phone until 2009, well beyond the point that my peers were already clicking away on their shiny new Blackberries and iPhones. I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to set up a Facebook account, and so on.

So what’s the newest technological doodad that I’m hesitant to purchase? A tablet computer.

For the longest time, I have thought to myself, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a laptop computer that’s been shrunk a little bit.” I already have a laptop computer at home, and I figure that I’ve got “mobile” Internet with my phone, so there’s no reason to get a tablet.

However, this last weekend I had the opportunity to watch a friend use his tablet computer with a stylus pen that allowed him to “draw” right on the screen. As a result, he was able to use Photoshop to create impressive works of art, without having to worry about staining his clothes with charcoal or paint.

I have always enjoyed drawing and painting, even though I’m not very good at it. There have always been two main problems holding me back — time and the required space for a good studio and equipment. However, if I got one of the new stylus-based tablets, I could definitely see myself trying to get back into drawing as a hobby again.

One of the coolest aspects of the tablet was that you were able to “erase” mistakes in seconds. My friend was even able to use the paint tools to “mix” primary colors together on his tablet, as though he was taking real paint on a palette and blending them together. Rather than painstakingly painting and worrying about staying inside the black outlines, a digital artist can click on an area and instantly have that area filled with color.

Then, on Monday, I had an interview with a subject who had a tablet that he used to show me photos. I was amazed at the ease of changing photos by just swiping a finger across the screen, or making the photo bigger by shifting a few fingers. I can certainly understand why somebody would have a tablet like that, making it really easy to share photos with friends and show them in high-resolution detail.

Then, on a recent plane trip I tried to bring my laptop along, only to realize that the cramped seats of a modern jet aren’t really made for convenient laptopping. But my fellow travellers who brought tablet computers were able to keep typing away without missing a beat.

One of my biggest concerns about a tablet computer (and most modern smartphones, for that matter) is the touch screen. I can just see myself trying to push the “D” key and instead typing a mixture of “E,” “S” and “C.” It’s the reason why my Blackberry still has a touchpad with a “QWERTY” keyboard.

Yet I can see that touchscreens and “virtual keyboards” are the wave of the future, and I may as well get on board. And if I don’t like the tablet, maybe it will at least make a neat Frisbee.

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at justin.schuver@thepostsearchlight.com.