How important are cameras in a tablet? (poll)

The latest iPad and Android tablets have cameras, but the very popular Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet don't. Does this feature play a role in your buying decision?

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A couple of months ago, Apple made a big fuss about the greatly improved camera in the new iPad. Five megapixels, 1080p video, advanced optics, and so on.

My reaction: meh.

I need a camera in a tablet like I need a radio in a toaster. It's just not a feature I have much use for, and in fact I've rarely used it at all. I suspect I'm not alone in this sentiment, as evidenced by the massive popularity of Amazon's lens-free Kindle Fire.

And, really, tablets make crummy cameras, at least in some respects. Whether it's a 7-inch model or a 10-inch, you need two extremely steady hands to hold it for a crisp snapshot or a video that isn't shaky. The big screen makes a nice viewfinder, to be sure, but I think it looks and feels weird to use something that big to take a photo.

The one saving grace? FaceTime, Skype, and other video chat apps. The bigger the screen, the better. Of course, I know very few people who actually like video calls; most folks try it once or twice as a novelty, then go back to plain old voice calls.

And, yes, there are some slick camera-drive apps that work better on a tablet. My kids dig the iPad's Photo Booth, and apps like FaceGoo and VideoFX Live are more fun with a bigger screen. I especially like Lego Super Hero Movie Maker, which benefits greatly from the iPad's spacious display.

All this raises the question: How important is a camera in a tablet? Do you consider it an essential feature, something that's nice to have but not necessary, or completely superfluous? Vote in our poll, then share your thoughts in the comments.

And while you're in a voting mood, share your thoughts on the best screen size for a tablet. I'm still partial to the 7-inch form factor.

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