Making the Switch from Laptop to Tablet

Sections: Laptops, Mobile Computers, Software / Applications

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I was meeting with a client yesterday, and she was admiring my iPad + Bluetooth keyboard combination. She pulled a massive laptop out of her bag and said she’d been meaning to make the switch from her laptop to her new iPad.

We got to talking about what was involved in making that switch.

1. What do you do on your laptop, and are those tasks practical on a tablet?

Tablets are very good for certain functions and not so good for others. They are fantastic at:

  • Web browsing
  • Email
  • Scheduling
  • Word processing
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Reading (news, books and magazines)

They aren’t as good for

  • Working with spreadsheets
  • Presentations
  • Video or image editing
  • Working with multiple screens or applications at once

Tablets can do the above four items. They just aren’t as good at it, and you may need to buy more hardware (like an adapter to hook up your tablet to a projector).

However, if your needs fall in the first area, you’ll be in good shape with the right apps and accessories.

2. Select the right tablet for your needs

7″ or 10″ is the big question. I’ve covered this topic in more detail in my earlier article on Size does matter. Briefly, size means a trade-off between portability and screen size/usable area. If you intend to do a lot of word processing or light spreadsheet work, I’d definitely recommend a 10″ tablet. If all you need is email and scheduling on the go, you’ll be fine with a 7″.

3. Select the right accessories

A case and keyboard are the first decisions. I’ve covered selection of cases in another article. Again, remember how you’re going to use it. Do you need a case that gives you several landscape positions? How important is the auto Sleep/Wake feature? Do you plan to use your tablets mostly in coffee houses, or will you be using it extensively outside?

Keyboards come in a variety of sizes, shapes and price points. Some are even flexible and roll up, which is great for portability.

Lastly, think about your power needs. Are you going to be using your tablet heavily for a full day? Or just for a few hours? If you anticipate heavy usage, you’ll want to invest in a portable charging solution.

4. Select the right apps

Look at the applications you use on your laptop right now. Most of them have tablet equivalents. Check reviews carefully. Just because an app description makes it sound perfect for your needs doesn’t mean it will work as you expect. When buying a new app, I carefully read reviews, trying to find other users who have needs similar to mine. This is especially important for word processing/spreadsheet suite apps. They tend to be fairly expensive, and you don’t want to have to try three or four before you find the one you need.

That covers most of the planning process for replacing your laptop with a tablet. Did I miss something? Any questions? App or accessory recommendations?

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