Katherine Noyes, writing for “PC World” (http://macte.ch/byR2m), says tablets are just a fad. I disagree with her basic premise, but she does have some good points.

Among Noyes’ reasons for doubting the future of the tablets are:

° Limited functionality: “As far as I can tell, tablets do not offer any significant functionality that’s not already available on a smartphone or notebook computer, yet they lack critical components like keyboards. In fact, you can get a laptop with considerably more memory and storage and a much better CPU for a significantly lower price, as my PCWorld colleague recently pointed out.”

° They’re inconvenient: “Unlike smartphones, the tablet form factor is too large to fit in a pocket or purse, yet it doesn’t offer anywhere near the functionality of only slightly larger devices like notebooks and laptop computers.”

° Waning excitement: “It’s true that other manufacturers are still hot on Apple’s trail with their own iPad-like contenders, but the release of the iPad 2 made it clear that excitement with the devices is already fading. Reviews of Apple’s new tablet were generally mixed, suggesting that reality is beginning to sink in.”

Noyes says that she sees no reason to own a tablet, and fully expects them to fade out of the mainstream over the next few years.

That’s not going to happen. First off, the excitement is hardly waning for the iPad. Apple is selling more than they can make — and that doesn’t look to change anytime soon.

As for the limited functionality, Noyes does have a point. If you’re need a device to produce content, a laptop with a keyboard is still a better choice. However, many folks do little typing on their iPads — mainly to respond to emails — and for them the tablet is even more portable than a notebook. Plus, the iPad is a better way to consume some media (ebooks, digital newspapers and digital magazines) than laptops — and are just as good as laptops for watching videos and movies.

Are they inconvenient? Well, if you compare them to a smartphone, yes. But the iPad and other tablets aren’t meant to be smartphone replacements, so that’s not a good comparison. Compare a tablet to a laptop, and they’re more convenient.

So again I reiterate my reasoning: the iPad and tablet computers will replace laptops for those that mainly consume media. Tablets won’t replace laptops for those who produce media and data.

— Dennis Sellers