Should tablets have a camera on the back?

By on May 16, 2011, 12:00 PM

Have you ever wondered how many people actually take pictures with the camera that comes on the back of your typical tablet? I have always had a sneaky suspicion that this number is very low, and it turns out that I'm not the only one who thinks so. Furthermore, there's data to prove it.

Flickr counts the number of cameras that are used for the pictures on its website. It updates its statistics with the latest models, the number of phones taken, and so on. If you head over to the Flickr webpage for Apple-branded cameras, you'll notice how very rarely the iPad 2's camera is being used.

Apple has sold millions of units of the iPad 2. Flickr reports, however, that there is something like an average of 25 daily users taking pictures with the iPad's 2 camera. That's laughable.

Some may argue that this is because the iPad 2 camera isn't very good, but statistics aren't any better for other tablets. Of course, taking pictures is not the only use case for the camera on the back. After all, when you do so, you look quite ridiculous:

I understand that the camera on the back of a tablet is meant for video. No, it's not meant for capturing video, because that would make you look even more ridiculous than taking photos. The point is to be able to show your surroundings to whomever you are video conferencing with.

Nevertheless, I still think it's really only there so the manufacturer can list it as a feature. After you play with it once or twice, you just don't use it anymore.

User Comments: 15

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Guest said:

Simple: No...

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Completely agree with you there Emil.

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

Well a back camera would be more of a show-off thing, bringing a lot of fun and a lot of awkwardness while filming. So I also agree with Emil - a camera on the back does not seem really... suiting.

SSaywell said:

On the BlackBerry PlayBook the camera is both very good and very useful. Never used it for video calls but taken photos or videos lots and people seems to always like using the camera. Maybe it's because it's only 7" but I do agree that on the iPad which is bigger you do look like a prick when using the camera.

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

Well I don't think cameras are killer tablet features and that's one of the main reasons the iPad 1 didn't come with one, it was just not as critical to bundle them. I think the market is what got Apple to introduce them on the iPad 2, almost every publication said something about the first iPad not having any type of video or camera and how competitors where going to include them. I've never used the back facing camera on my iPod, it's not that good, and I would happily buy one without any camera.

But us I said if they didn't include one there would surely be some critics bashing Apple for not including it.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Having the convenience of a back camera to shoot a quick photo or video is fine, but the rarity of that occasion (in most cases) does not make a great argument for even including the hardware. However, augmented reality functions could be what will push the back camera use out in the wild. In fact, maybe that back camera is being used more than we realize, and it's just not uploading a file to someplace like Flickr to be counted?

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Considering how popular Flickr is, even if it does not count for every uploaded image made by a tablet (ipad2 in this case) the statistics generated can still be used to ballpark overall usage.

As for Augmented reality, a smartphone sized device would STILL be more usable, more convenient, and less awkward. That being said, I'll waiting for a meaningful HUD being implemented into glasses/visors or eye implants. The later may be somewhat far fetched and far off, the former has been been done as a projection onto motorcycle visors....

Guest said:

I actually use my ipad2 on a daily basis during my Histology and Anatomy class lectures in med school. It's a great tool for review purposes and viewing pictures of histology slides is much nicer on the ipad than viewing them on a mobile phone screen.

Guest said:

More in scanning QR code to download apps, which make it a whole easier then search for them, then to record video or take photos. It like tablet with GPS, you don't need it all the time, but it good to have and it the norm.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Guest said:

I actually use my ipad2 on a daily basis during my Histology and Anatomy class lectures in med school. It's a great tool for review purposes and viewing pictures of histology slides is much nicer on the ipad than viewing them on a mobile phone screen.

...ok, and what this have to do with whether or not there's a camera on the back of the tablet? If there's a connection, please make it.

Having a kid, a camera on the back side is a nice feature. If I'm sitting in my chair browsing the net and my kid is doing something cute (as toddlers always do) it's nice having quick access to a camera (not having to get up to go get my phone or a camera). So for me personally, it's a great idea. For others...probably makes no difference.

Guest said:

Might as well include a camera on tablets. The cost to add the hardware is very minimal and it only serves to enhance the product.

Guest said:

Flytouch 2 or 3

Guest said:

At the moment it's a solution looking for a problem but has good potential for AR applications. If the camera isn't there then nobody will develop the apps for it. I think it would be a good idea for Apple to keep it there and when the proper app comes out everybody will be thinking, "why couldn't I have thought of that?"

Guest said:

I'm setting up a mobile digital classroom using tablets, and many of the lessons involve students taking photos/videos of others and the environment. So..... in education, its a must. Netbooks are useless because they only have a front webcam.

Teacher in South Africa

Rancid said:

I have an Acer A500 honeycomb tablet and I took a crap load of pics and videos with it.. I also use the front camera for Skype calls.. there is my two cents


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