Trading a laptop for a tablet
Weighing the pros and cons
|Sony Tablet S|
When tablets first came on the market, I wondered if it was time to get rid of my laptop and switch to a tablet. Tablets looked so fun and simple to use, and made my laptop look rather dull and old school. When Crutchfield starting carrying tablets, I had the opportunity to try out both the Sony Tablet S and the Samsung Galaxy Tab™ 10.1 and see how they stacked up against my MacBook. I used both tablets to browse the Internet, play games, take photos, and watch videos.
Tablets do some things much better than my laptop—especially when it comes to entertainment and controlling components. But I'm still not sure whether or not they can handle the day to day work tasks I do on my laptop (like writing in Word, downloading and organizing photos, etc.).
Apps, apps and more apps
I took both the Sony S and Samsung Galaxy Tab home for a few days, and even let my eight-year-old try them both out. He quickly learned how to use them, probably even better than I did, and downloaded several free games. I can see why tablets have become so popular in families.
My son enjoyed using the tablets so much that he finally stopped asking to play on our smart phones. Bliss. So it definitely gets lots of points in my book for providing entertainment for the whole family.
I dislike reading eBooks on my laptop, so have mostly stuck to old-fashioned paper books. But I've been curious about eBook readers, so I downloaded a free book (Pride and Prejudice) on the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It took just minutes to load onto the tablet. The book app was easy to use.
Swiping the screen turned the pages and it gave me the sensation of turning actual pages in a book. The screen is a bit shiny for reading in a bright spot, though. I still can't picture myself lounging on the beach with anything but a real book in my hands, but I can see how appealing it is to be given instant access to a new book.
The one problem I ran into was how slowly the photos loaded on news sites. A coworker assures me that there are other browsers (like Firefox) that work much faster than Samsung's loaded browser, and are free to download. I would definitely try using another browser if the tablet was mine to keep.
Control everything in your house
|Sony Tablet S remote app|
Well, maybe it can't control everything in your house. But just about. The Sony S has a built-in IR remote that can replace almost any music or video remote in your house with no trouble at all. In the Crutchfield Labs, we were able to use the Sony S to control everything from a Blu-ray player to multiple TVs.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab has a free app to control Wi-Fi®-enabled smart TVs, and we used it as a remote control for a Samsung TV in the photo studio. The tablet's screen looked like a regular Samsung TV remote control when we opened the app. We were also able to select another window in the app that allowed us to adjust volume, etc., with just a swipe of our fingers across the screen. I liked the idea that a tablet could replace a remote (especially if you lose remotes as often as I do, but always have my phone nearby).
The tablets also work well with many wireless music systems. We tried out the Samsung Galaxy Tab with a Sonos® system we installed at a local firehouse. After downloading a free app, the firefighters were able to see all the zones we'd set up around the firehouse, and they could send Pandora® and Spotify to the various Sonos speakers. It was nice to see all the zones and music selections on such a big screen. You can see the firefighters using the tablet in this video:
Business Travelers will love this
All that fun is great, but if I'm really going to replace my laptop with a tablet, it has to help me do good old fashioned work. On the Galaxy Tab, I downloaded a free app called OfficeSuite Viewer 5. The app allowed me to open and read a Word document I emailed to myself.
To take it one step further and be able to edit my document I would have to pay for an upgrade. I've read about programs like Go To My PC which let you access your computer over your mobile device, and I'm sure any of them would be useful in a pinch--but again they cost money. I'm also not sure how comfortable it would be for me to spend a lot of time typing on the tablet's virtual keyboard. I'd probably have to invest in a docking keyboard since I still like to press keys when I type.
So I think I'll hold onto my laptop for now for work tasks, but I know at least two people in my family who would be ecstatic if I added a tablet to our stable of electronic devices. I found both the Sony Tablet S and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 to be lots of fun to use and they both added a whole new level of entertainment to our household.