Here is what recent history and this Holiday 2011 Season has shown this technology user:
We got computer portability with the development of laptops in the late 80s and early 90s. They cost more than $5000 in those days. Few could afford them. Then we saw the release of the cell phone, a brick-sized item that also cost a lot. The natural migration of applications and capability from the desktop to the laptop to the cellphone - first called a PDA and later branded the Smartphone - was inevitable.
Electronic messaging systems have evolved from early text-based list servers to company email like Lotus Notes to Instant Messaging (IM), Chat, and now social networking like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These "instant" systems require portability and, more recently, greater connection speed as we send digital pictures and videos to each other. "Transitional technology" like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook have bridged the gap between print, visual media, and digital presentation without the need to reproduce physical "copies" of the content like newspapers, magazines, tapes, CDs, and DVDs.
This user isn't certain if we have really needed much of this capability, but the passionate evolution of digital technology has thrust capability forward, almost faster than the average person can imagine. Simultaneously, the globalization of thought and the spread of regional and national ideas has flourished. Whole countries like Egypt and Libya that had, heretofore, been able to control media and isolate themselves from outside influence have been changed permanently because of the influence of thought. The messages move at the speed of light to individuals and communities around the globe.
To the present. I have found that I no longer carry a laptop daily. It goes out with me when I do any "serious" work, like preparing complex proposals or documents, or loading a "virtual machine" to test or evaluate software. Otherwise, I depend upon a smartphone or netbook to read email or check-up and post with Twitter or Facebook. I am still not completely satisfied with using social media apps on a Smartphone. They serve this user better when I have more screen real estate and a traditional keyboard for entering information. Email seems better for me because it has fewer pictures and requires less screen real estate for quick reading. However I still prefer Gmail or iMap and POP mail to webmail on a smartphone.
I haven't owned a tablet yet. The iPad - which is clearly the best technology choice according to reviewers- has been far too expensive, for me at least. I do have an Amazon Kindle onto which I have downloaded a number of books and periodicals. However, it still seems to get read at my nighstand rather than being carried with me daily. This is because the kindle is a single purpose device that can be duplicated - in miniature albeit - on my smartphone where the Kindle App presents me the same content that sits on my nightstand. Even so I "read" only in airports or at the doctor's office due to my busy lifestyle and schedule.
Now that many tablets are available at a $200 price range I will probably be able to add a tablet soon to my technology tools. Where will it fit?
The marketers tell us that it is really a transitional device bridging the gap between "hard copy" media and eMedia. That is why many tablets are customized by the vendors to act as streamlined content delivery systems with server side caching technology to improve the quality of the user experience. Vendors skilled at providing a total media solution at a reasonable price will prevail.
The current availability of electronic print media - books, magazines, newspapers - and "streamed" video as well as the proliferation of cloud storage vendors has improved the delivery systems for new content tremendously. The commoditization of content delivered to much larger markets and audiences has brought the unit cost much lower than ever. Red Box movies at $1 a night are a no brainer solution to a Saturday Night movie date. Their future popularity will hinge on the development of Video TV from vendors like Apple, Google, Sony, and Samsung. The boundaries between movies, television, and games will continue to blurr. So, competition will continue between delivery systems that target small mobile devices for individual use and systems that provide entertainment to the living room or other gathering place.
In my view the changes will continue rapidly as quickly as the markets develop and the content providers themselves transform their delivery capabilities. Stay tuned!