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Where have all the tablets gone?  August 23, 2017 – 10:53 pm

samsung-galaxy-tabpro-s-14.jpgTablets are like vinyl records and Tupac, people either think they're dead or alive.

The lukewarm feeling for tablets is evident in consistently declining sales. This has resulted in manufacturers significantly slowing down their production; in 2014 and 2015 Samsung released a new Android tablet every couple of months, and we've yet to see one in 2016. Similarly, we haven't seen Asus release an Android-based Transformer Pad since 2013.

Remember when everyone thought the tablet was going to replace the laptop? So far they've failed to live up to that expectation.

I'd like to see a modular tablet, like the LG G5 phone.

James Martin/CNET

It's not the same with tablets. They're usually used as a leisure device at home for reading up on Kanye's latest Twitter rant, binge-watching House of Cards in bed, or checking Facebook, and most people's needs are fulfilled by the model they already own. Getting a new tablet every year (or every other year) is almost like throwing away a toothbrush after using it for a week.

Tablets have more in common with TVs, PCs or gaming consoles than phones. They're an investment you make once every few years, and, ideally, when you upgrade you'll be getting something significantly better than what you had before. (Or you could pick up an affordable Amazon tablet that's good enough for most casual use.) It's up to you when that upgrade happens.

lg-g5-6164.jpgIf you're looking, there are tons of great tablets available and some offer killer features, like a built-in projector, crazy-thin keyboard, or stereoscopic cameras. And while it's hard to stand out in the shadow of King iPad, even Apple's tablet line is experiencing big sales drops. Whether its newest pricier Pro models, replete with drawing pencils and keyboard add-ons, will reverse those trends has yet to be seen.

With such dominating competition and declining sales, it makes sense for companies like Samsung to focus less on new tablets and put those resources toward something else, like a VR headset. This doesn't mean it's over, though.

Tablets have a long shelf life - that's a good thing for consumers. It's resulted in a smaller pool to pick from, but it's not a coincidence that the manufacturers who make the best ones, like Apple, Amazon and Google, are still churning them out - slowly, but surely.

If the tablet category really wants to justify a second act, manufacturers need to up their game. And that means going after the elephant in the room: the computer. PC or Mac, it doesn't matter. But ultimately, the tablet needs to replace the need for you to run back to the laptop not 80 or 90 percent of the time, but 100 percent of the time.


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