It’s official: Laplets like the Microsoft Surface Book are trumping tablets

Laplets have officially made bigger gains in 2016 so far over tablets.

surface book surface pro 4 Microsoft
Credit: Microsoft

Still using a tablet? That iPad or Android model is starting to look like a Model-T.

According to new research by 1010data -- a Big Data company that looks at consumer spending habits to determine market share -- laplets are making big gains this year. The full report is due out next week.

While the Apple iPad is still dominant (at 32.5% market share), the Microsoft Surface Book increased in market share by 9% in Q1 (to second place and 25%) over the same quarter last year while the iPad leveled off. Also, laplets like the Surface Book accounted for 33% of all tablet sales. The trend suggests that more people are buying a 2-in-1 that works as a laptop and as a touch tablet when you detach the display.

Why laplets? In some ways, it doesn’t make sense for business users. They are heavier, usually run Windows 10 instead of a “true” mobile operating system with plenty of touch apps (alas, Windows still doesn’t have anywhere near as many quality touch-enabled apps as the iPad or Android), and are a bit clunky. The Surface Book is about three times as thick as the latest iPad.

Yet, we all crave the highest level of functionality possible. If you bring an iPad along on a trip, you know you’ll need a mobile keyboard if you want to do any serious typing. As for apps, we tend to use the same ones over and over again -- Skype for video chats, HootSuite for social media, email, a browser, and a few choice games. As long as Windows can provide what we need, the app selection doesn’t discourage us, even if we can’t use the latest and coolest apps. In the end, the main goal is to answer email, browse, get work done, and maybe watch a movie.

A laplet provides everything we need for work and play. With a Surface Book, you can type up an entire novel with its brilliant keyboard. Disconnect the display, and you can sit back on a plane and watch a movie. Most importantly, most laplets also run full desktop apps like Photoshop and Microsoft Office. We’ve reached a bit of a saturation point with apps where they are constantly showing notifications, asking to be updated, and bugging us to death. Give me a good keyboard and Chrome and I can probably get most of my work done.

There’s also something to be said for the new kid on the block. When I see that someone has a Surface Book in a meeting, I take note. Hmm, stylus for taking notes. Powerful processor and plenty of RAM, They can run the “real” version of Word. It’s not the absolute best tablet ever made, and it’s not the absolute best laptop, but it is the best of both of those.

Laplets have a ways to go, though. For one, they are still underpowered for high-end games and data-intensive apps. They are meant for productivity and consuming media, which hits a sweet spot for most users, but it’s not a machine an engineer would love for coding. My test system has 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5 processor, but I can imagine needing something beefier if you do real development work and have multiple apps running.

And, there are still many reasons to choose a tablet. My biggest reason is that many apps are released first on an iPad or Android tablet. They don’t ever make their way to Windows. That might change as the market share finally starts to shift. Look out Apple.

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