How to Ditch Your Laptop for a Tablet

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The laptop made computers portable. Still, there are a lot of people who consider the laptop, with its case and power-pack, a bulky and undesirable piece of luggage to carry around.

People today are using smartphones for voice communication, web surfing, messaging, file sharing, and collaborating with co-workers. This transition to handheld devices is demonstrated by the fact that some 70% of people now access Facebook on a mobile phone.

Market observers predict that the fastest growing niche in computing will be the combination of handheld devices, high-speed Wi-Fi networks, and cloud storage. Portability and usability in an anywhere, anytime environment is fuelling this trend.

However, a smartphone is not going to be suitable for more general and administrative work – tasks like writing documents, or editing images and videos.

The tablet alternative

People who don’t like carting a laptop around are now exploring the possibility of ditching their laptop in favour of a tablet. The tablets available today are powerful enough to replace a laptop for day-to-day tasks such as web surfing, document processing, and light photo editing.

This trend is likely to accelerate with the release of many new tablets and the release of thousands of apps which will run on tablet computers.

The main attraction with a tablet is its light weight, which makes it so much easier to carry around. The cost of tablets are also well below the price of laptop computers.

Some limitations still exist, mainly regarding the availability of software programs people can use on laptop and desktop computers. This would require a second thought for most people, or an assessment as to which software programs a user can do without.

Before you consider a transition to a tablet, you need to decide whether you will buy an iPad or an Android tablet. Apart from any particular personal preference, this decision depends on your current work environment. If you are using an Apple Mac with the iOS operating system, you would want to transfer to an iPad. If you are current work environment uses Windows, Unix, or Linux as an operating system, you should consider an Android tablet.

Recommended process for transitioning to a tablet

Using a tablet instead of a laptop or desktop computer will require some changes in your work processes.

  • Arrange for work files to be stored on a cloud server like JustCloud, Dropbox, or Google Docs. It would mean less storage requirement on the tablet, and files will be available from any location.
  • You need a reliable Wi-Fi connection to work with a tablet. However, this should not be any more complicated than whatever arrangement you currently have with a laptop computer. The portability of a tablet means that you can work anywhere where reliable Wi-Fi is available.
  • Set up a work procedure that enables you to synchronise notes, calendars, and email on the cloud.
  • Search for the most suitable apps available for your operating system. They should support whatever cloud service you intend using. Depending on your preferred choice of tablet, major apps recommended include Evernote and Google Apps for Business.

Accessories you need

  • The most important accessory you will need is an external keyboard and case. For the iPad, the best available keyboard is the Apple wireless keyboard supplied with the company’s range if iMacs. It can be bought separately for use with the iPad. An alternative is the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio.
  • You may consider the need for an external battery pack and portable disk storage
  • Extra storage can be acquired with the use of a wireless card reader. These devices come with SD cards which are storage cards. You just need to make sure the card reader is fitted with a pass-through option, which allows the tablet and card reader to stay online simultaneously
  • A tablet stand will be highly desirable when working with an external keyboard
  • Both the iPad and Android tablets can be connected to a printer. The iPad connects to the AirPrint printer. HP’s 520 e-All-in-One printer is also available for tablets.

The question with software depends on what programs you consider essential in your current work environment using a laptop or desktop computer. Here are some software programs you may consider downloading if using a tablet for work.

For the iPad:

  • Microsoft has released Office for iPad, an office suite that will provide the essential requirements for document processing
  • Apple offers its iWork for the iPad, which includes Pages, iMovie, iPhoto, Keynote, and iCloud. The iCloud addition allows you to share password protected files and documents via iCloud
  • iWork Pages now has improved compatibility with Word 2013 documents. You can export a Pages document as a .docx file which is the Word file format
  • The Textilus program for the iPad is compatible with Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, and Scrivener
  • Adobe Photoshop Express is optimised for the iPad and is suitable for basic photo editing
  • The Side by Side app for the iPad enables you to open multiple windows.

For Android tablets:

  • Google Docs is the best available document processing suite, and files can be stored on Google Drive
  • OfficeSuite 7 for document processing and PowerPoint presentations
  • Google Voice for sending text messages
  • Flipboard for easier reading of poorly optimised websites
  • Netflix for watching movies and TV shows, and Slacker radio for music
  • Samsung and LG Android tablets let you open multiple windows at once.

Best tablets for 2015

Here is a collection of the latest tablets available in the market this year.

  • The iPad Air – This tablet comes with a 9.7” screen, and weighs a miniscule half kilo. It provides 12 hours of battery life
  • The Lenovo Yoga 10 HD – This is an Android tablet that comes with a 10” screen featuring 1920 x 1200 pixel screen resolution. A cylindrical spine makes it easy to use the tablet in portrait or landscape mode. The tablet is fitted with front facing stereo speakers
  • Google Nexus 9 – This tablet has an 8.9” LCD screen, quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and an 8MP camera. Network connections include Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Pro – This tablet has quad processors and a 12.2” screen. It comes with 3GB of RAM.
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