Tablet or Phablet?

  From an earlier post and after a shaky start I am now a self-confessed tablet fan. The ability to use a device as a full on computer on the move, away from the office, or even if I can’t be bothered to go into the home office to work is fantastic. Remote computing out and about or even from the comfort of your couch, is perfect tablet territory. When the opportunity arose to replace the old second phone, the wonders of the phablet (phone tablet hybrid) entered into consideration. Surely this would be a perfect solution? The take two bottles into the shower (tv ad for shampoo/conditioner) phrase crossed the mind! I could do away with the tablet and do all on this new phablet. I have to admit, the grey area that other articles mention may apply to home use of a phablet. But, they become two very different devices especially with regard to your work/business requirements. This article about the “third” device is a semi light hearted prospective of phablet use, can phone and tablet really work in one device? Is it possible to replace one with another?

Size really does matter !

 phonephabletThe blindingly obvious phablets are bigger than phones, so prepare to carry about (cargo pants are an ideal solution!) and work with a considerable sized piece of real estate in your hands. I’ve used the above photo to prove a point. The smaller phone in the image is the 520 phone and the larger the 1320 phablet. The reason they’re next to one another to demonstrate what’s known as the sweet spot. The smaller phone shows what’s considered as ideal size of a screen so that the average hand can hold the phone and with thumb and fingers work in the space.

The days of holding the phone in one hand and thumb typing/swiping will be a thing of the past for most that move to phablets. Either use both hands, or rotate the screen to get the extended keyboard so you can grip the device and thumb type a la tablet. (Best way prevents dropping the phablet, or having it stole away from your grasp if you’re in one of those areas your parents always warned you about after dark!). The screen size is the main emphasis of the phablet, the 6+ inch screen gives the appearance that everything’s bigger which is not only handy for watching videos, but for working on too. The extra screen size is ideal for mobile working, for my needs I have to remote clients servers and desktop occasionally when dealing with queries and issues, in addition to bashing in email, completing reports and returning reports done in excel. The wide open screen space is perfect for RDP allowing you to work and see in a useable desktop space without squinting as you would if using a phone. Web browsing can be done in “true” desktop mode, no need to view everything in mobile friendly view (sorry web developers).

Making/Receiving calls

dom jolly I always remember Dom Jolly from TV wandering about with a 4ft tall mobile phone shouting “Hello I’m on the phone”, back then it was the annoyance of people using mobile phones, wonder if he gets royalties for the invention ! Although not quite as bad, using a phablet for long calls can become an uncomfortable exercise, both physically and mentally. Better alternative is hands free, assisted by Cortana/Siri or OKGoogle to dial your contact is perfect. But, be prepared to lose privacy unless you have headset/earphones. Hoping you can see the point I’m trying to make, it’s not always a quick extract from the pocket to make/answer a call (depending on where you are). Long calls you’ll end up juggling the phone (as your arm slowly goes to sleep). With hands free you risk letting the world now that the spouse/boss is angry when you get “that call!” in the café or on the bus, so remember to keep a pocket free for the Bluetooth headset, wired earphones !

Photo’s and Video Overall high end smartphones/phablets generally have better camera quality that of tablets. The phablet wins hands down on this, still within the “bounds of decency” to hold up and take a snap, Instead of attempting to manhandle a 10 inch tablet, blocking the views of others at concerts & shows (you know who you are!) to take a snap. Video conferencing via phablet is a dead heat with a tablet there’s no real difference although IMHO, it seems more advantageous, the slightly smaller size more convenient to hold in the hands and chat rather than holding a tablet. For long regular use of video calls, I’d recommend getting a stand case for the phablet.

Is a Phablet a real tablet? Firstly, this is very much governed on what platform you’re on Android/Apple or Microsoft. Secondly, everyone works differently, you’ll have different requirements if you’re a photographer to that of an office worker, so you’ll have to weigh up the pro’s and con’s I’m trying to point out . I use the Toshiba Encore & Surface Pro3 tablets, two very different opposite end of the scale tablets at first sight. But, I can perform all my work tasks on both exactly the same way. Tablets utilise apps perfectly fine (see earlier posts). But, also allow you to utilise the PC desktop like working on the PC/laptop when you need to, which is essential for my work. A phablet doesn’t have a native desktop as such (unless you RDP another machine!), so you will be reliant on the apps, which should be fine. But you could end up encountering difficulties or even losing some functionality / abilities, depending on your needs. Also that slightly smaller screen may well require your need for the wand or pen especially for fiddly menus on webpages or remote desktop, as the sausage fingered amongst us will know. An 8+ inch tablet screen provides a much more touch friendly work area to that of the 6 inch screen. If you use browser driven applications heavily you may not have problems. Luckily, Windows and Window Phone both have equivalent browsers in IE11. But if you’re reliant on a specific plug in on the PC/Tablet you may not be able to get that on the browser on the phablet. Android tablets would have issues with flash for example, google chrome plug in’s differ between mobile and desktop browsers. This may sound very negative about the phablet, and it’s not my intention to put down the device. But some circumstances simply will occur where you will hit problems. One company I know state their application only works in firefox !?! Which is a bit of a blow if you’ve spent fortune buying the Iphone 6+ to discover you can’t use the phablet for every browsing requirement, without having to download different browser apps.

Endurance

Most phablets have a more powerful battery than that of the ordinary smartphone, obviously needing more oomph to do more work and power that larger display. I have to admit the 1320 is perfect you could probably run a small town on it, while working and still have over 75% battery life left. But, there’s a reason. The 1320 is the cut down version of a larger model, with the 1320 having slightly less features so it doesn’t use drain power as it would on its big brother. But, having the same engine under the hood makes it a long distance runner. Other phablets mentioning no names, do suffer badly from power drain which is a bad thing, as a portable device is something that doesn’t have to be 4 ft away from the nearest power socket, you begin to lose the advantage of mobility. If you want to take the leap to phablet check the battery life/standby etc.

The Verdict

Tablets are nearly always referred to as the “second device”, an additional piece of hardware to use while the primary device is unavailable. Strangely the tablet for me has become an essential device. I’ve worked three weeks solid on the Encore, doing heavy work related computing, shunning the desktop. Just because it was so damn easy to start quickly and crack on, it became second nature to work that way. The phablet for me, is the true second device. I can work with it, but not for long periods, and for the moment not on all tasks. (Windows 10 promises that it will be a transparent change using the o/s between devices when released). Phablets are handy if I’m away from the office and I get the can you have a quick look at this .. type calls, but to work on for several hours work would not be my preference. The name gives it away really is primary function is still a phone at the end of the day. Phablets give an advantage to using the smartphone more as a mobile computer, but aren’t a direct replacement for it as is the tablet. It may sound like I regret getting the phablet. But that’s not the case, I found it does have its uses for work but as said it’s a McGyver device, a quick fix to get around a work related issue such as, call up a website in a meeting to obtain info, making a skype call etc. It’s not a gadget as I deem wearable’s (future article) , it is a true secondary device for mobile computing needs.

No doubt people would disagree, but this opinion is based on my work which is desktop oriented running cloud apps , but I need to be able to do it away from the office at the drop of a hat, hence my preference for the tablet. I’ve yet to find the “thank god I have phablet” moment at work, I don’t doubt it will happen and will let you know.. What’s your opinon? Do you rely on the phablet more tablet? I’d be interested to hear opinions….

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