Looking Toward the Future of Touchpads & Laptops
A couple of years ago when they started developing a multitude of Apps for Smartphones, I realized that it wasn't far down the road before Touchpads would have the capability take a big chunk out of the Laptop/Notebook market. The question of course is WHY? I'll do my best to give you a few reasons that Touchpads are becoming so popular, and where they may be headed down the road.
1. Touchpads are the Ultimate in Portability. Weighing in at a little over a pound (for the 10" range Touchpads), you can basically take them anywhere. The 7" variety fits nicely into a big pocket!!! So the lightweight, mobile feature alone is enough to get the attention of many users. Let me tell you why.
2. There is an extremely large portion of the market out there that does little more on their computer than check their email, browse the web, and play simple games. As I mentioned earlier, Touchpads today are tantamount to an over sized Smart Phone. You can even make Skype calls from most of them. So you have access to a multitude of Apps over various platforms (it depends on which one you buy), to do all of the things that you used to do with your laptop. You're also doing many of the things you were doing on your Smart Phone, but in a much enlarged version.
3. As far as typing goes, many of the newer Touchpads have attachable keyboards or use bluetooth to take care of that obstacle. I agree with you that I haven't seen a touchpad that could compare with typing on my laptop, but remember that there are a lot of people out there who are really frustrated with the clumbsy keyboard designs that have come out on many laptops over the past few years. And the reality is that most of the people buying Touchpads don't do a lot of typing on their laptops. They do however, do a lot of reading. And touchpads are a perfect platform for "E-Reading" the thousands upon thousands of books available from companies like Amazon. The Touchpads also have some pretty spiffy Camera action going on. Some are capable of taking High Resolution Photos or even Movies. As far as breaking a Touchpad goes, Corning has come a long way in preventing that too. Their new Gorilla Glass is great for touch sensitivity and durability all rolled up together.
4. So now we're beginning to get an idea of WHY people like the idea of Touchpads, but what about the manufacturers? Aren't they going to lose a big market share? This goes to a point you aptly mentioned regarding storage space. The answer is seen when we look at the Future of Computing and Communicating. It won't be long until we begin buying computers with no software installed at all. We'll have a simple operating system which will be fully capable of taking care of the input and output, interacting with the attached devices (like the Built-In Webcams, Video Output, printers and USB devices), and all of the software will be located on some remote server that we all like to call the "Cloud". This is the future of computing. Especially mobile computing. Touchpads fit into this mold quite nicely. Hop on to the Microsoft Cloud, compose a document in Word, save it in the Cloud and share it with whomever you like. As far as storage goes, the Cloud can be your storage until you get home and back everything up on the Family's External Hard Drive. I saw one on sale today (4TB for 160 Bucks!!!) Between the Cloud and your backup drive, how much storage space do you need on your Touchpad? Most companies like Dell, HP, Sony etc.., have their own Touchpads. The truth is that they would much rather build you a Touchpad for $50 Bucks and sell it to you for $800 Bucks, than building a laptop for $120 Bucks that they can only sell for $500 Bucks. These companies will see a reduction in some of their lower end laptops, but those sales will be replaced by Touchpad sales.
5. Everything electronic is getting smaller, using less energy, using fewer moving parts, and becoming less expensive to make. A good example is the SSD Drives that have seen their prices cut in half over the past year. Touchpads will most likely (if not already so) start using mSATA chips for their SSDs. These are chips not too much bigger that a big postage stamp that can easily hold 64-256GB of data. Good bye hard drive!!! The new Windows Surface Pro is available with a 128GB SSD built in, and a complete Windows 8 operating system on a Touchpad!!!
For me, I'm going to stick with my good ole laptop for most of my needs. It's only a couple of pounds more and does everything that I want my computer to do. But I learned a long time ago that just because I like it doesn't mean that everyone else is going to think that way. There is a bright future for Touchpads because they're lighter, more mobile, they have a longer battery life, they make pictures and movies, they display books, they Skype, and if you like, they can fit into your pocket. So I can see these devices becoming very popular as the new generation of Cloud Storage and Software come into their own.
I'm not rushing out there to spend $800 on a new Touchpad just yet, but for people with a need for true mobility, the Touchpad may be just the ticket.