Daily dilemma: Choosing iPad, Android, or Windows tablet

Daily dilemma: Choosing iPad, Android, or Windows tablet

Summary: This tech addict owns five tablets and must choose one to use each day. This is how I do it.

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iPad Air with ZAGGkeys Cover (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

I am a tech addict, this I admit. I justify my obsession with mobile tech, tablets in particular, as it happens to be my job. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. It gives me a reason to own not one or two, but five tablets.

These tablets include an iPad Air, iPad mini (non-Retina model), Galaxy Note 8.0, ThinkPad Tablet 2, and a Transformer Book T100. For those keeping count that's two iPads, one Android, and two Windows 8 tablets.

Most days I take one of these to work outside the office all day. I rotate them frequently, and get asked regularly how I choose one each day. A common query I receive is if I choose the tablet platform to fit a day's expected task(s). That's a logical assumption but the fact is the tablet I choose to use on a given day is strictly a spur of the moment decision.

Those thinking I should just carry a laptop since I use a keyboard with the tablets are overlooking a major point.

I am in an unusual position in that I own so many tablets, and they cover all of the platforms. This gives me a perspective of all of the OSes in use on tablets, and how they compare for my work. Others may find that their needs vary from mine and that one of the platforms is required, but that's not the case for me.

I've covered in the past how tablet OSes — iOS, Android, and Windows 8 — are pretty much equal on tablets. I still find that to be true, especially since Windows 8 apps that I need for my work are now available. I can grab any of my tablets and do my work without compromise, so I carry whatever I want.

I often don't decide what tablet goes in the gear bag until I'm ready to head out the door. I grab one, along with the keyboard, and off I go. I always carry a keyboard since writing is what I do.

My days of crunching numbers on a massive spreadsheet are long behind me. No longer do I need to do project management on a large scale. If I did those things it would certainly affect my choice of a work system. Writing requires apps that are readily available on all of the tablet platforms, and that's what gives me flexibility in the tools I use each day.

What I use, keyboards and apps

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ThinkPad Tablet 2 with keyboard (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Of the five tablets I own, I only take three of them for planned work days. The two 8-inch tablets, Note 8.0 and iPad mini, are too small to use all day so they are only taken on short outings when I don't plan on working. They are my "just in case" tablets to get work done during unexpected periods.

The three tablets that are my full work systems are the iPad Air, ThinkPad Tablet 2, and the Transformer Book T100. Both iOS7 and Windows 8.1 handle my needs just fine, so neither has an advantage over the other for my work.

Many days I take the iPad Air and ZAGGkeys Cover keyboard. The iPad Air is the lightest tablet of its size, and with the keyboard it's only 1.8lbs. It fits in a small gear bag and can be carried all day with ease.

The keyboard is fantastic for writing as it handles touch typing almost as well as full-sized keyboards. It is not lacking in any way, and that makes this a great writing system. I can easily take the iPad Air out of the cover and use the tablet in its purest form.

What makes the iPad work so well are the apps I use. These include:

  • Evernote

  • Mr. Reader

  • Safari

  • Tweetbot

  • Gmail
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Transformer Book T100 with keyboard dock (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Other days I grab either the Tablet 2 or the T100. If I take the former I use the detached keyboard sold for use with the Tablet 2. It's a nice keyboard but can't be attached to the tablet for easy transport like the solutions for the other tablets.

The T100 has the full laptop dock which makes this a good work system. For this reason I take it more often than the Tablet 2.

The Windows 8 apps I use on both of these tablets are really good for my work:

  • Evernote

  • Nextgen Reader

  • Internet Explorer

  • Tweetium

  • Windows Mail

Tablets are basically the same

All of these tablets serve me well for my research, writing, and copy editing. I can set out for the day with any of my slates and know I can do anything I need without fail. That shows how far each platfom has evolved compared to just a year or two ago.

Those thinking I should just carry a laptop since I use a keyboard with the tablets are overlooking a major point. I often pop the tablet off the keyboard and use the slate alone. This is a major advantage over laptops and why I rarely carry a notebook these days. This fits my needs and my usage pattern and is thus a better fit for me.

See related: 

Topics: Mobility, Android, iPad, Tablets, Windows 8

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80 comments
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  • Yes James me too!

    I have to admit I am a addict to tech too. I have multiple devices such as a Chromebook, iPhone and 2 PC's. My biggest gripe is that its very hard with any of them not to get sucked into a ecosystem with at least one. I tend to use all of them equally so I really try to find applications that work just as well on all of them. I really think the most successful apps and services will be the ones that cross operating system barriers. My Wife has a Surface but we both admit its a closed ecosystem in many ways. Apple is that same way very much too worried about keeping users locked into a walled garden. I was hoping Google would break that and to some extent it has with cross platform apps and web access. The toughest part of being a freelance tech addict is trying to make all my gadgets work together.
    JohnnyES
    • only android can give you all:

      only android can give you all:

      freedom
      security
      openness
      more apps than any other ecosystem
      still simple to use
      Jiří Pavelec
      • Freedom? Openess? Security?

        How so?

        Freedom from what? Openness in what way that matters to the vast majority of users? Security - isn't Android #1 in malware at the moment?

        Apple has more apps I believe (but does it matter when you only use 10?), and all tablets OS's are simple to use
        William.Farrel
        • microsoft troll is confused...

          ...i guess those words are banned for microsoft employees?

          1. freedom from insane company that you work for and which never made anything worth mentioning in serious tech circles.
          2. openess is relevant to everyone, especially to those who don't understand the concept
          3. security from zillions of viruses/spyware/rootkits/dialers/keyloggers/tracking cookies/ / / / /// (fill in yourself) that can be picked using windows machine. android never was, and never will be even close to winblows with quantity and malice of crap that can be picked up.

          only microsoft troll can claim that windows 8 is easy to use.
          deathtoms
          • Really?

            You sir are an fAndroid religious zealot. I use iOS devices and I know for a fact that Windows 8 is easy to use as I use it on a daily basis. Perhaps if you stopped drinking the Google kool aid and took off the blinders you may learn something. Then again such open mindedness is completely outside the religious zealot's comfort zone.
            athynz
          • I love the Windows 8 OS Ecosystem

            Hey, not everyone can deal with a dynamic desktop. I certainly understand that many people have a difficult time adapting to new ways to doing things, and others simply don't have the cognitive ability to figure out how to move about in Windows 8.

            If Windows 8 is too difficult for you, then - by all means - you should stick with a more "static" environment that doesn't so easily confuse you.

            As for me, I love the fact that I essentially have the same OS on my phone, tablet, desktop and laptop. I love the fact that my Internet favorites and files sync up between all of these devices, and I love the first class hardware on my Surface.

            But - by all means - you have fun with your Peanut Butter Cup OS, or whatever they're on right now.
            ribzilla
          • Android is a hotbed of malware for mobile devices

            1. Google's EULA and ToS is a galaxy away from freedom. Google IS an insane company, given the recent NSA revelations, and no better than Apple or Microsoft.
            2. It isn't fully open. Try Replicant or Cyanogenmod if you really desire openness
            3. In terms of malware for mobile devices, Android has suffered the most infections compared to the other mobile Operating Systems

            Fully free software would not allow itself to be full of malware. Sorry,but Android is NOT free software, and you should avoid it for your sake.
            Pro-Free(Libre) Software
          • That's absurd

            It is just not common at ALL! Is it more common than iOS or Windows . . . maybe, but it's still very rare. And that's only because your doing things you can't do on the other devices.

            I use Windows and Android, and there is a place for all three.
            stano360
          • it just makes yourself look like an idiot

            There are billions of people who don't like Android, and Microsoft does not hire billions of people. I for one, not a fan of Android or Google, and I don't work for Microsoft. If you are curious, I work for DriveHQ.com / CameraFTP.com. Of course, these are just my personal opinion.
            emilykulish
          • Freedom?

            I have two Android tablets and like both. But until I can use them (other than by rooting) without having Google+, Google Music and other Google garbage (to me, I don't use anything but Play and only then by necessity), it isn't freedom.
            mdsock@...
        • Amazon - and best selling tablets during Christmas sale

          TOP 10: all Linux. Best non-linux 11. and 12.

          http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Electronics-Computer-Tablets/zgbs/electronics/1232597011/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&linkCode=ur2&tag=fnh-20

          http://www.itworld.com/open-source/398063/linux-dominates-amazons-christmas-tablet-sales
          Napoleon XIV
      • I'll give you three out of five

        Security? I suppose that depends on your definition of security, but there is little argument that both Windows RT and iOS are more secure than Android. Just the nature of the beast.

        Most apps in the ecosystem? That is blatantly false. iOS has by far the most tablet optimized apps of any ecosystem.
        Tiggster79
      • Apps are sadly wrong.

        Windows has more applications than anyone, by far.

        x86 will be king for a LONG time.
        Walkop
        • Of course, but

          Of course X86 Windows has the most apps, but generally you are only counting tablet/touch optimized apps when you're rating a mobile platform, and the Windows Store has far fewer apps than iOS. Most people don't care about the millions of legacy apps out there which offer an inferior user experience compared to "Metro" apps.
          Tiggster79
          • Why?

            I think people are starting to look at a tablet in terms of what the device can do for them and not just about the number of apps.

            The reason most people bring two devices along with them on trips is because tablets are still primarily companion devices and don't do all of what they need.

            At some point the number of apps stops to matter in relation to the availability of apps a user needs in addition to other features they need.

            With most Windows tablets having a hybrid nature or option, touch isn't a mandatory need, but rather just another option to use for input.
            Emacho
          • There is a Chromebook

            There is a Chromebook for that. Long battery life, keyboard, under 3#, and that good stuff.
            mytake4this
          • For James...

            His use case as a blogger, he could get by with a ChromeBook. I mean it's typing and browsing for the most part.

            Thing about ChromeBooks is that if you are paying more than $200, you are paying too much for what they do as other devices in the $300 range can do 10X as much AND can be a ChromeBook if you like.
            Rann Xeroxx
          • But if you are judging it on traditional tablet

            use scenarios, they the number of touch optimized apps comes largely into play. When you start throwing hybrid devices and x86 software into the mix it becomes largely a matter of personal preference and what you want your tablet to be able to do.

            I would consider myself a power user, so I originally went for a hybrid device, but switched over to the 2520 and only use it in pure tablet mode. I've found that I like this device much more than the hybrid device I previously purchased. None of the hybrids are quite there in performance for me, as I normally work on a desktop and even refuse to use laptops. Once tablets get to the point where you can have a couple terabytes of storage and at least 10 gigs of ram they'll be my one go to device though.
            Sam Wagner
          • Why?

            Why would you need so much storage and ram on a mobile device? Games or CAD? The future is to perform these functions on a cloud system and stream it to the "mobile thin client".
            Rann Xeroxx
          • I agree with your opinions, Emacho.

            Part of that is due to the price per tablet. Choosing more than one tablet to own has become a realistic option for most tablet users due simply to low prices.

            Personally, the main and nearly sole reason for my purchase of a Dell Venue 8 Pro was it's ability to handle Microsoft Office applications in an acceptable manner on a low weight, eight inch touch enabled tablet format.
            kenosha77a