Today's tablets succeeded where previous ones failed

Summary:About three months ago, I bought myself a tablet computer, the Asus Transformer 101, with a docking station.I had been toying with the idea of getting a tablet since the beginning of the year but had held back because I was waiting for a worthy Android-based tablet, as well as one that would sport the latest Honeycomb operating system.

About three months ago, I bought myself a tablet computer, the Asus Transformer 101, with a docking station.

I had been toying with the idea of getting a tablet since the beginning of the year but had held back because I was waiting for a worthy Android-based tablet, as well as one that would sport the latest Honeycomb operating system. Also, I wanted to avoid getting another Apple product as variety and "tweakability" were important to me.

Another consideration was that I needed a tablet that would basically replace how I was going about as a journalist--to be able to store my data on-the-go, accessible from anywhere, work on it like I can with a full-fledged laptop, and portable enough that I wouldn't get a shoulder-ache while carrying it around.

Some out there may not know that the concept of the tablet computer isn't new. I remember seeing the first iterations of the Windows powered, Compaq tablet, which first came out in the early 2000s. We all know what happened to that device--it basically crashed and burnt due to several reasons, including not being able to distinguish itself from a regular laptop, poor battery life, slow processor performance and unfriendly software to match all these challenges.

Fast forward to today, the tablets--whether the Apple iPads or Androids--have finally met the maturity that they deserve.

In a recent trip overseas to cover a tech conference, I was able to survive only with my tablet, my external hard drive and most crucially, stable connectivity to the Net.

With this setup, I was able to check e-mail, access my online storage files, have unfettered access to all Web sites, conduct online transactions like e-commerce orders, listen to music, watch videos while on long-haul flights and so on.

Thanks to the power of today's hardware, software and services, and aided by the standardization standards, the little tablet that we carry around is itself a powerful tool.

I was initially concerned as to whether I could survive a full working week without my laptop. So before I left, I made sure I backed up my critical files on Dropbox, an online storage utility. I also backed up my other not-so-crucial files into my portable hard drive, which I could access through my USB port on the keyboard dock of my Asus.

I transferred all my video files onto my SD card so that I could view my videos while on the move. I stored my briefing documents and research files on my tablet internal memory. I brought along my portable Bluetooth keyboard so I could type my stories. I ensured I had all the software--for example, Evernote--that I needed for the trip by downloading it from Android Market.

With all this set up, working on the trip was a breeze. Most of the time, I had connection via Wi-Fi at the conference hall or in my hotel room. So access to my data was almost seamless. Even online shopping was a breeze as I sat in the comfort of my hotel room, ordering all the things I would normally have to pay through the roof from online merchants.

This is the kind of power that first Compaq tablet never had in its day. Today's tablets are far more privileged than those in the past, and underpinning this success is one word I can think of--ecosystem.

No longer are today's devices standalone in nature. True computing power comes from hardware, software and services all working in concert with standard-driven protocols that seek to bind all of the above in a tight bond working together. That's the kind of ecosystem that is available to the average user today.

That said, the tablet isn't a tool that will necessarily replace the laptop or desktop. There are still jobs and work tasks that are much more suited to a laptop/desktop--for example, jobs that require a lot of keyboard/mouse interaction and manipulation such as working on a large spreadsheet, or jobs that require a lot of multitasking and switching between programs.

Still, the tablet has come a long way and most of the time, at least for me, I find that to be a boon for me for my work as a journalist.

Now what will they think of next to refine the tablet further, I wonder?

Topics: Tablets

About

An engineer by training, Edwin first cut his teeth as a cellular radio frequency optimization engineer in one of Malaysia's largest telcos. After more than five years, he hung up his radio engineering boots to try his hand at technology reporting at The Star, Malaysia's leading English daily, where he won several awards for Best Online Te... Full Bio

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