Oct 27, 2014

What features should you look for in a tablet that will be used as a laptop replacement?

Tablets have gotten much better over the past year or so and you can get a lot more for your money than you used to, so I’m thinking of trying to replace my laptop with a tablet. I’ll still have the laptop, so if it doesn’t work out I can always go back to the laptop. Everything I use is either Windows or Android, so while I’m not totally opposed to an iPad, it’s not my first choice. So, those of you who have tried to transition to a tablet for work, what are the features that one should look for, and what drawbacks did you experience from switching to a tablet?
I have three of the most commonly compared devices; A Windows laptop, a Chromebook, and a large tablet (Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2). When it comes to getting work done, 90% of the time I reach for my Chromebook. Yes, it is more limited than a traditional laptop, but I use a lot of cloud based tools such as Google Docs, which minimizes the differences. The Note Pro was more expensive than the Chromebook, but is less useful for one main reason...lack of keyboard. Yes, I can add a keyboard, but then we are talking about spending almost $900 dollars for the entire set-up. Also, once you add a keyboard to a tablet, what’s the point? Why not just carry a laptop? I end up using the tablet for more personal tasks, like watching video content or conducting online research, using the Chromebook for the majority of day to day tasks, and using the Windows PC for more serious work such as spreadsheets and video editing. I could probably make any of them work for any given tasks, but it’s not going to be fun to prepare a multipage document using the Note Pro without a keyboard. To put it succinctly, the Windows laptop can be replaced, but for productivity and value, it is still the better choice.

I could get by with the Note Pro, in great part because it has an office productivity suite that is pretty good, Hancom Office, but still, if you have to type on the on-screen keyboard it is less convenient and slower. Plus, many people don’ t think of this, but using a tablet is just not very ergonomically friendly. It’s very easy to end up hunched over your desk with the tablet laying flat. A laptop or Chromebook is MUCH more comfortable over time than a tablet. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like my Galaxy Note Pro, but it is really much more of a luxury than anything else. If you only had one device to work on, I would choose either a Chromebook or an inexpensive Windows laptop...probably the Windows laptop. The business world is generally a Windows based world, and you will end up facing compatibility issues with files and software if you go with a tablet. You will probably be able to work around any problems, but it’s going to take some effort on your part.
I think an office suite is certainly something you'd need on a tablet, preferably one that worked just as well with your files as the laptop version.

You should also consider a bluetooth keyboard if you do a lot of typing. The on-screen keyboards on tablets are fine for short emails and that sort of thing, but if you need to write more than that an external keyboard is a must.
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