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Learning to love the tablet

POSTED: May 3, 2013 9:07 p.m.

Since the early 1990s, I’ve had half a dozen desktop computers, five laptops, various printers, a couple of faxes, a plethora of dumb phones and a couple of smartphones. But just this week I got my first tablet computer. As I once initially thought, I had no need for a computer (my dedicated Smith Corona Word Processor was just fine for a writer), I also thought I didn’t need a tablet. I was wrong.

Many times I needed a computer at a client’s home but didn’t feel like packing up my laptop in its case, grabbing the cord and throwing it in the car. Having a tablet is infinitely easier.

If it had 3G, I’d be happier, but it was an extra hundred bucks and my carrier doesn’t allow a la carte data usage on extra devices anyway. So I’m stuck with just Wi-Fi, which is really OK.

I ruled out Apple products mainly because I believe they are just too expensive. I considered a Windows tablet (also another extra $100), but went with what I already have on my phone: Android. It’s easy to use, has an abundance of free apps and is the cheapest type tablet on the market.

For less than $200, I got a mobile computer that, although won’t replace my laptop, will certainly complement it. Much of what I did on my phone and some of what I did on my computers, I now do on the tablet, and do it with mobility.

It’s a great tool for business. It allows me to chat, connect to a Windows computer remotely and I can now check email on the fly without having to use the crowded keyboard on my phone. It also allows me to browse the Web and actually see where I’m going and speak my search criteria, should I prefer not to type it.

I have a memo and to-do list, and I’m finally able to use a calendar that’s large enough to actually see . I can take decent videos and photos with the tablet, although I mainly use my DSLR for that.

It comes preloaded with Polaris Office Suite, that allows you to create and edit .doc, .docx text documents as well as .xls, .xlsx spreadsheets and .ppt or .pptx presentations.

On the light side, I can watch movies, TV shows or YouTube videos with my 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 model with its high quality 1024 x 600 display. I can read e-books, use it as a universal remote for all of my electronic devices and listen to online music. There are a ton of games available. Admittedly, I do subject myself to the occasional Mahjong challenge.

Granted, it obviously lacks the surround sound audio quality of a home theater, but for a device that’s less than 3/8 inches thick, the sound is surprisingly good and the video quality is fantastic.

It has a dual-core, 1 GHz processor with 8 GB of flash memory which allows it to go from page to page flawlessly.

The tablet, like many, also has dual cameras, so I can video chat with my girls or clients, if necessary.

After I logged on to my Galaxy Tab for the first time, all my cloud-based docs and photos were there for me to view because it synced to my Google Docs and Dropbox accounts. That was a nice surprise.

There are some drawbacks though, to using a tablet. There is obviously no keyboard; it uses a touch-screen. It ‘s smaller than a laptop, but larger than a phone.

There is a photo editor installed on it and although the Google Play Store has thousands of apps to download, other editors included, I do miss my Photoshop.

I also miss the availability of a USB port. That was a disappointment. I will have to resort to either sending my tablet files electronically or put them on the Micro SD card I added to the system. It only came with 8 GB of on-board storage space, so I added an additional 16 GB (it takes ups to 32GB). It does have Bluetooth, though.

Typing is easier than with my phone, and although I can dictate via the microphone app, it lacks the handy Swype feature of my Smartphone.

Just as I was once surprised that I liked my computer, I like my tablet. It’s a versatile mobile device.

It would be the perfect device if it only had a phone in it.

Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly on the Business page and on gainesvilletimes.com.


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