Tablets What Are They Good For?

I have used 6 different tablets over the past 2 years. One was an iPad 2 while another was the Asus Transformer Prime. My goal was to replace my laptop in some situations. I only partially succeeded and it took about 9 months to get to a steady state of knowing what I should throw in my car on the way out the door.

The iPad

ipadMy first experience with iOS was using this iPad. From my research and reading I thought this was going to be great if not a perfect experience. As it turned out it was woefully inadequate and frustrating in trying to force me to use services I did not want to commit to. I access both technical services, Amazon cloud services, code repositories, Windows servers as well as online marketing resources and SaaS services. The pleasant part of using a tablet is that they have apps that give you optimized access to the services and applications that you want. In the case of the ITunes store I found that almost everything costs money. Even the crappy little applications like an IM client required paying $2-$5. Given that I was going to use 20-30 apps I was not fond of shelling out $100-$200 for these things most of which I would end up not using or would use rarely. My allergy to spending money without knowing it was going to be used, useful and frequently accessed meant I was a slowed down while I carefully reviewed and evaluated app.

The nature of a tablet means you will often be using a web browser to access areas without an optimized app. I found that although the safari browser was good it was limiting in the websites that supported it. Most importantly my often used banking and accounting services. Right there it removed nearly half the reason I wanted to replace my laptop.

The UI seemed to take an unnecessary number of strokes to get the simplest information. By nature I am a multi-tasking person. So I want to see my calendar events easily and latest emails and texts(the apps for this were horrendous and still are) and all the items I want to keep up with while I work on either editing or reading rss feeds or reviewing marketing materials and invoices. You have to explicitly go to most apps which requires exit, swish swish to find an icon, click icon and get in then start to see it. Don’t get me wrong it’s pretty easy and intuitive to do one thing but not so good at doing and seeing many things at once. And not good at getting there with one poke or swish.

If you want to really work on these and you need to write more than 2 sentences then you have to get a keyboard. I purchased a blue tooth keyboard but it kept disconnecting on and off again. It made using it frustrating and useless. Unless you can find a good keyboard that stays connected this is a consumption device, meaning you read and review mostly.

One last point on the iPad. Heavy, boy is it heavy. Try sitting and holding or laying in bed and holding it. I have lifted weights for several decades but holding this thing is a chore. Even the newer ones are too heavy.

Ten Inch Android Tablets

ASUS-Transformer-PrimeI used an Asus Transformer Prime. The reason I chose this one is it was the first that was not laggy and it had an attachable keyboard. I found it a bit lagging and stuttering and the wifi connectivity was poor. The keyboard attached nicely but at this point it was basically a small laptop that had no advantages in weight. It weighed as much as any laptop I would have purchased.

I did not always need to have the keyboard but this suffered from similar problems as the iPad. Too heavy and could not access some full desktop websites well. I found there was some big advantages over the iPad. One setup was a breeze since I already had a Google account. When I put in my credentials it just vacuumed in all my mail and calendar and contacts. Nowadays it also pulls in many of the apps you have installed on your phone so you have saved a day of digging and setup. Google seems to keep improving the backup and restore of your apps and data as time passes.

Another big advantage is the apps. I know you here there are more apps on iOS and that there is more junk in the Google Play Store for Android. This is true but what is not clear is your ability to get free useful and functional apps and cheaper paid apps is easier in the Google Play Store. I have apps that allow me to log on to Windows servers, and that give me access to the technical things that I need and I can more easily get to my bank website and other services. The bottom line is that it is much cheaper to own and use a Google Tablet and today finally the latest Android Jelly Bean OS is equal or superior to iOS in all areas except power management.

How I Work Today And Why

nexus7I have sold all of my 10 inch tablets and now I own an Asus Nexus 7 tablet. I don’t worry about storage because I don’t load movies to watch later. Everything is pretty much in the cloud except screen shots and a few files that can be deleted and were just a temporary download. I also have a nice bluetooth keyboard that works well and stays connected.

I settled on this seven inch tablet for the following reasons:

  • It cost $200
  • I can easily hold it in one hand(although I want it lighter still)
  • The performance is almost as snappy as my phone (not quite)
  • The Nexus line always gets the latest OS release very quickly
  • It keeps me very portable and fast-moving

keysI am comfortable knowing that this setup will easily handle 80% of what I need to do. The next 10% is not as easy but it is do-able. The last 10% it just wont’ do and no tablet will do it yet, gotta use a computer. But think of this point on using a tablet. Do you always need to have 100% of the function you need with you? If so you may look like the janitor of old carrying around a massive set of keys and wondering what are all those used for?

My suggestion is to carry the 5 or 10 keys that you often use and leave the rest in a place that you can easily get to if needed. The advantage in portability is liberating and can help unshackle you from some of your life.

If you look at trends you see at the consumer level that tablets are replacing laptops at a fast clip. Most families use laptops for email and web browsing and game playing. Most of which are replaceable by tablets. The only issues are with things like online banking, and the mobile apps are starting to add more function. I think that within two years (yes it will take that long) all the mobile banking and services apps will finally contain full function. For business it will take a bit longer.

Do You Need To Pay For Data Service

4GNo, flat-out and simply No! Look, we pay for data at home, we pay for data on our phones, we may pay for it other places. How many times do we have to pay for data over and over. I use a carrier that allows easy use of ‘outside’ network phones for this exact reason. On my Android phone there is a switch called ‘Portable WiFi Hostspot’.  I click this on and then my tablet accesses this. My total data for the month when I use my phone and tablet and computer together is around 1 to 1.5G per month. I watch a few videos while away from home but not much. I also have a truly unlimited plan which means they won’t start throttling me(reducing the speed I can get data) after 2 gigabytes. But as a policy I keep my data well below this limit. The reason is because I don’t need to. If you stay away from much video you will be fine with many limits on data plans.

So if you want a tablet just get the WiFi version and skip the extra $200 tablet cost as well as the $25 or $60 data fees. Then get to a mobile carrier that allows you to hotspot your phone for no extra fee. Hint: stay away from Verizon if you can. Even if you root you phone they work hard at detecting then charging you.

Suggestions To Improve The Tablet Experience

SuggestionBox

 

  • Make them lighter -. I don’t want to carry a small laptop around, I already have a laptop
  • Faster startup – Please don’t tempt me to go make a pot of coffee because I just turned on you device
  • Default Apps – Let me specify what service I want to use when clicking a link or button (hear that Apple? stop forcing me to use your services first if I don’t want to)
  • Stop ‘Improving’ Android – skins are extra software the manufacturer installs to ‘help’ improve your experience. Occasionally these are good but most are bad and lead to slow upgrades and laggy, unusable, not useful and intrusive experience
  • Ditch the rear-facing camera – Everyone has a camera and yours is not good and not usable as a camera. Focus on the video conferencing front-facing camera. Get low-light and poor lighting situations so it works well
  • Startup – this should take 10 secs. It’s not freaking Windows
  • Power – I want this to last the day using it heavily. I can’t carry around a spare battery for you so you gotta last
  • Web Browsing – I want to get access to full functions on all websites. I try to go to ‘Desktop’ mode but it doesn’t always work. If you get this right then I can finally ditch my laptop

 

 

 


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