Tablets – Tools or Toys?

TabletsTablets are the topic of the day.

I get paid to stay current with tech “stuff”, but even after some research and observation (co-workers and coffee-shoppers), I was not completely convinced that I would use a tablet; then Santa brought us an iPad last Christmas.  My 12 year old son and I started using it around the house for web searches, games, checking email, FaceBook and now it has completely replaced the laptop! It connects to my wireless network and accesses the internet quickly and the display quality is great.  I was using my Android smartphone to take notes in meetings and read my email at work, so I tried using the tablet instead. When WiFi is available, the tablet has become my preferred way to read and respond to e-mail and web searches.  I use Google Keep (more on that later) to take notes in meetings. One of things I was worried about with a tablet was the ease of typing. I purchased a keyboard to use with the iPad, but once I got used to the touchscreen keyboard, the external keyboard rarely gets used. There are some very nice keyboards that are integrated into cases, making it easier to type for longer periods of time. Still a tablet isn’t going to replace a laptop for typing long documents.

When looking at tablets your major decision is what type of operating system you want. I had no experience on the iOS that runs the iPad and my iPod crazy son had fun showing Mom how to navigate it. The Android OS will look very similar to the Android smartphone. The Windows OS is available on the Surface, the iOS is exclusive to Apple and installed on the iPads and the Galaxy Note, Kindle and Google Nexus come with the Android OS. You will find the greatest variety of tablets available with the Android OS.

The variety of applications available for tablets is exceptional. iTunes, Google Play and Amazon are all very popular. Many of the apps are free and installing them is quick and easy. The battery life on tablets is very good, most tablets can go for almost 8 hours versus most laptops 2.5 to 4 hours.

The technology for tablets has improved dramatically just in the past year and the competition for buyers has brought the prices down and the quality up. Even though the screens are small, the tablet displays are crisp and very good quality. With services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon you don’t even have to fill the memory with video files; instead, you can stream entire libraries of material directly to your tablet. They are being utilized more and more in educational settings. If the books you need are offered digitally, you may save some money, space and weight just by downloading them onto a tablet.

After a year long test drive, the tablet has replaced some of the functions I used on my phone and most of the functions of my home laptop so for me it really isn’t replacing any device completely, but I am definitely not giving it up! I am hoping Santa brings us a 7 inch tablet this Christmas…Hint Hint

Christmas Tablets