Firstly I always have been of the opinion that the tablet is a gadget! Nice to have, but not an essential tool to own. Or, really be that productive on. I came to this conclusion having been previously bit by the tablet bug and purchasing an older Android tablet. Which now sadly stares at me every time I open the junk draw for a rummage. Laying there discarded, simply because it really didn’t suit my requirement, it wasn’t fast enough, it didn’t have the right software and graphics for me to able to do the computing work I needed to do.
But a recent circumstance arose where I’d be on the move for a few weeks, I’d be needing a device to do both my home and work computing on, as I didn’t really want to lug about my precious netbook, and couldn’t guarantee that the places I went to, had computing facilities that were available to me.
So the tablet once again appeared to be an ideal candidate, much lighter than a laptop and generally easier on the wallet. The tablet would have to perfectly replace my home computing needs, whilst out and about, and hold its own performing the usual work duties, email, office tasks, remote desktop control of client servers that run the company applications.
I’m rather pleased to say that my experience swapping to the tablet proved to be the best investment I’ve ever made! I didn’t even buy a great hulking super expensive model either! That the experience of using a tablet not only on the move but to replace a desktop/laptop was a huge success for me personally, that IMHO the time of the tablet is now truly upon us.
Your view of the world
It’s the minimal screen space that worried me as a user, bye bye to the 24 inch monitors. In truth as I used the tablet more and more that’s the actual bonus. The convenience of being able to work slouched out on the couch, sat at another person’s desk, and even from the bar at a Pub (don’t tell the boss!). Tablets handy size ranging from 8 to 12 inch screens gives you a very good mobile device, that genuinely can be used in any environment.
The screen size restriction even with an on board keyboard (see later section) was fine for desktop top work when required. The clutter and fiddling about with desktop drops downs from running applications and websites not too difficult to manage at all ( and I was working on an 8 inch screen). But, the real advantage in getting around the screen size reduction comes from using Apps.
Working differently and smarter
I’ve lost count and several teeth via grinding over the “we’ve an app for that” saying. But I found that apps are best suited to be most productive on a tablet. Allowing the main stream functionality of what you require from the full blown application in a more than adequate sized environment, that’s easy to control and a pleasure to use. Be that to run social media, or even work applications.
For example RDP on the laptop/desktop consists of finding one of several shortcut’s from the submenus, both screen and menu can get cluttered with these. But the RDP app is a simple touch, presents you with the screen listing all of your previously visited or saved connections, one touch and you’re in.
The ability of the interaction using an app, instead of full blown application (don’t worry they still work fine too) is an experience you soon adjust to. So much so that I stopped using the twitter website at home as simply use the Windows 8.1 app. Its better layout (far less cluttered without the infamous blue line!) and easy to move to the parts of twitter that you don’t generally use. It’s an actual joy, without having to mess about from drop down menus sub menus and keyboard shortcuts etc.
Economic power consumption, high quality graphics and sound are all part and parcel of tablets of today (sighs over the junk draw again).Battery life of tablets is much better than that of a laptop in general (you might want to keep that to yourself, in case you find your doing more work on the way home on the train!)
The combination of apps and a work anywhere device allows me to not hang around to finish things off at the office on a Friday, and do work in transit these days. So gaining more weekend time is a definite winner.
Office 2013/365 come into its own under mobile use, the integration of onedrive allowing convenient access to work and home documents, pictures, videos etc safe and secure across several devices. Not having to remote a machine to get hold of a file, or carry a copy about on a USB stick.
I write this article in praise of a specific tablet that I used for my needs the humble Toshiba Encore 8. Not a monster by any standard, but the 16Gb and improved Atom processor offers me more than enough to do the things I do.
A lot of my work is done from the desktop side of things, and yes a tablet with full fat 8.1 on it gives me the desktop to run the standard office tasks adequately. The 8 inch screen didn’t prove as fiddly to hit selections from drop down menu’s as I thought (even with my sausage fingers). But, for the impatient or the tired amongst you there’s always the non-resistive wand/pen available.
The tablet simply introduces a different way of working, freeing you from the manacles of the desktop office machine.
For intense work from home I generally remote a work machine from home, set it on its task, copying, installing, drop the connection and come back to it later to check its finish the task. So you only use it as a terminal then you say to yourself. The tablet was fine for doing my intense work too when required allowing me to directly linking to client machines to install software, amend database data etc.
Well yes, at the end of the day the nightmare that is BYOD, (see earlier blogs) is resolved it’s a secure safe machine doing the donkey work connected to other clients and companies, at no time does my own personal machine directly access a customer. Okay easier solution is to have a virtual environment to log into and work from that, but it’s horses for courses on your needs and what’s available to you.
If you’re going to use intense heavy applications or very high requirements in graphic manipulation, then it stands to reason a tablet with more oomph will be needed. I recently used the Surface 3 on training course. A real beast of a machine huge processor stack of memory. This had become the centres standard machine, perfect of all aspects of computer use from standard office work through to graphic design, and software development.
It’s been hailed as the laptop killer, and I can only say if you’ve used one, there’s no need to read the rest of the article to convince you to give the tablet a go.
Sound and Vision
Tablets have improved no end. The facilities for audio and graphics of laptops are common place in tablets today. Dolby provides you with quality sound for your personal enjoyment. And, when you have a eureka moment and want to show 10 people your idea on your screen, why not simply plug in the HDMI to the wide screen tv to use that as a presentation screen.
Without a doubt the limited width of a tablet restricts the number of available ports, but mini USB 3.0 and HDMI appear to be a reasonable defacto to work with. Should the need arise for your demand for more ports (which would only happen if your static) then the docking station is available in many forms to fall back on as and when required. It doesn’t have to be permanently attached or lugged about.
The clever methods involved in allowing this, come in many forms, from a physical station through to add on keyboards, or a case that doubles as an external keyboard and back up power supply all offer addition ports.
You’ll need a keyboard?
Okay the biggest argument on the tablet vs laptop argument is the keyboard, the classic “if you do lots of typing you need a QWERTY keyboard!”. Or, the other you’ll lose half your screen when you get the on screen keyboard
Well not entirely braking news but a tablet provides you with three keyboard layouts to suit your requirements, it’s easy to change between them, to select the right one for the right job. As for the view that depends on the work you’re doing. Without doubt it involves a slight adjustment to how you work. But, ask yourself this question. Would you give up a dream car simply because the cigarette lighter is on the wrong place?
Standard: Perfectly suitable for casual inputting when browsing or filling in forms. Standard is the one tablets are “judged on”. Entry on this keyboard, make you look like a market researcher come wine waiter. The precarious hold could drop from your hold is the usual gripe, so use the keyboard on a tablet stand or flat surface.
Thumb: A three split keyboard with a number pad in the middle, perfect for heavier inputting. Usually has toggle to enable more key sets usually emoticons (ideal for social media). Has the slight shortfall of specific keys for specific purpose function, ALT and CTRL. Thumb is perfect when slouched out on the couch, when you’re holding the tablet or are on the move, comfortable secure grip on your device. Entry looks like your holding a Gulliver travels sized game controller, the input speed you can build up will surprise you. (Fastest thumbs in the west!)
QWERTY : Yep it’s there the full 101 style et al. This satisfies the needs for report, essay, novel writers, as most tablet cases act as a stand putting the tablet on a slight incline of about 15 degrees gives you back the keyboard slope and the usual pounding of keys can be easily done. Having the ALT and CTRL and function keys being made available allows you to use desktop shortcuts of applications, menu control. Basically the full monty.
Can you live with a tablet?
One reason a colleague keeps away for tablets is the lack of a DVD drive. Ok, makes sense she’s in the habit of listening to music via CD, or watching a movie. This could easily be replaced by putting the material on Cloud and using that instead, but people are set in their ways.
But people used to using Ultralight laptops already should give the tablet some serious consideration. Would the company I work for ever get me a company tablet ? Probably not although they consider my role office based, its amazing how much I do in transit, or from home for work. If they did they may just be surprised how much more could be done when used correctly for business.
Can I live with a tablet? Hell, yes, I’d hate to think what I’d do without one now.