How to turn your tablet into a mobile workstation

How to turn your tablet into a mobile workstation

Summary: Here the kit -- software and hardware -- that allows one ZDNet writer to work effectively while he's away from his desk.

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TOPICS: Tablets, Smartphones
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  • The tablet

    I do a lot of work on my iPad, but in order to work effectively I've had to assemble the right collection of apps and hardware to make it possible. Here I'm going to present you with the kit -- software and hardware -- that allows me to work effectively while I'm away from my desk.

    I present this listing not as a blueprint for you to follow to the letter, but as a guide to inspire you to check out kit that might help you do the same.

    I'm an iPad user -- I've just upgraded to an iPad 4 -- most of what I'm going to write applies to any tablet. Not all the apps I list will be available on every platform, and some of the hardware will be iPad specific, but if you search about you are likely to find alternatives.

    Image source: Apple.

  • Apps

    There are just too many apps to mention, but I'm going to list a few that I use regularly, along with why I find them useful.

    • A good browser, such as Google Chrome;
    • Evernote: which is an excellent replacement to keeping things in my head!
    • iA Writer: for distraction-free writing;
    • Documents To Go: to allow me to open those pesky Microsoft Office documents people send me;
    • LogMeIn: to allow me to access my PCs and Macs remotely;
    • Skype, to keep in touch with others and collaborate;
    • Parallels Mobile and VMware View Client: to allow me to access virtual machines remotely;
    • Pocket Informant: to store all my appointments, tasks, and to-do lists;
    • Photoshop Express: to edit images;
    • pwSafe password manager: because VylN74^VVc91% is hard to remember!
    • Starbucks: not just for the coffee injection but also because it's easy way to find Wi-Fi in most populated places.

    There are many more, some of which I've covered here. Bottom line is though, if you want to be effective when on the move, you're going to have to invest in the right apps.

    Image source: VMware/Apple.

Topics: Tablets, Smartphones

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66 comments
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  • Or...

    you could buy a Surface RT/keyboard combo and use the included MS Office and Skydrive. If you prefer making your life more complicated, I suppose you could fight with an iPad to try to get it to do what you need.
    kstap
    • That is a fair point

      It would have been nice to see an in depth comparison.

      Personally, I would prefer a very thin and light notebook (11.5" screen and well under 3 lbs, with a good keyboard and track pad, mouse optional) AND a "phablet" with a BT headset. Total weight would still be well under 3 lbs.

      I wonder what the total weight of all the hardware is. The solution somehow seems overly cumbersome to me.
      D.T.Long
      • +1

        n/t
        Ram U
      • Wow

        Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
        ......http://goo.gl/yBPjH

        Happy New Year!
        StephenPhillip
        • StephenPhillip...did you hire Loverock Davidson yet?

          He's out of work and is in a bad way......he's trying to pay off all those Surfaces that he purchased at Christmas that given back to him because of Flashing Metro Tiles were giving all his friends migraine headaches. He hasn't had a hit on e-bay even at 50% off..... you could write Loverock Davidson at Zdnet if you want to buy his Surfaces real cheep................
          Over and Out
        • Just can't stop spamming, Stevie, eh?

          The only way you're bringing in $5600 is by being a boy-toy at a leather bar. Oh, and how's your mom doing?
          thetwonkey
    • Surface

      I'm so ready to get my Surface Pro when it's available and leave this iPad behind, and finally have a tablet that I can "use" at work.
      WBCO
    • Or not...

      The Surface keyboard does not do it for me. It sucks to be honest. I personally use an iPad with a Logitech Ultraslim keyboard case, which has the advantage that it works as a case and is ACTUALLY A KEYBOARD. Slim, 6 month battery, works awesome. As for those "pesky" microsoft documents someone else mentioned, I open and edit all of those just fine thank you. Evernote is awesome as well, and that jawbone bluetooth is flawless (for me anyway).
      NBrazil
    • Really? all that extra stuff?

      75% of what you showed could be dumped if you just used an ultrabook for the light weight and battery life. By the time you added all the crap together it weights more than an old style laptop. Technology gone too far.
      jmp_omaha@...
    • Or...

      You could have just bought a laptop - like an ultrabook.

      The moment you take a tablet like an iPad (or Android) and start grafting things onto it to get it to the point where it can be as useful as a laptop - you're almost at the same pricepoint as a good laptop.

      Why compromise?

      Especially with all the Win8/Dockables out now - a full laptop AND a full tablet. "Battery life!" I hear you say - photograph 6, I reply. He's already carrying around an external battery - get a slightly beefier one and problem solved.
      TheWerewolf
    • AKH or Kendrick will never agree Surface is a good product, as its Apple

      Pathetic level of bias, on one side iPad is productive with keyboard + this + that + whatever but never see the same value in Surface.
      ninjacut
  • Wow.

    "Those pesky Microsoft Office documents people send me".

    I'm shocked you installed Skype! :)
    William Farrel
  • How to turn your tablet into a mobile workstation

    My oh my that is an expensive mobile workstation. $820 for the iPad, roughly $100 for keyboard and case, another $30 for the bluetooth, you still use your phone so that's another couple hundred. Plus too many accessories. I'll stick with a $500 laptop for my mobile workstation. It can run a wide variety of apps, connect to the corporate VPN, and run more than one app at a time. I like to work smarter not harder.
    Loverock-Davidson
    • The ultimate oxymoron

      LD and smarter
      D.T.Long
    • LD Please.

      Can you even attempt to honestly add the costs? The BlueTooth headset and phone dont count, nor really does a good car charger, given the utter suckitude of standard sub 1 amp chargers. Also your 820 for the iPad cost is insane, way to assume the highest price point.

      It would be awesome if you could post smarter, sometime.
      Non-Euclidean
      • He actually makes a good point

        As much as everyone hates LD, here he is correct. Even if we adjust the prices a bit and assume you already have a phone, this mobile workstation (ipad + accessories) is much more expensive than a more capable laptop. Even iPad + Keyboard and case is more than a laptop. An iPad with Retina Display (don't even try to claim an iPad mini would be acceptable) is at least $500. Keyboard + case is another $100. Look here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834101303
        A laptop with more storage, a bigger screen, more ram, and a full powered OS for for $320. That's cheaper than an iPad 2.
        Patrick Aupperle
        • Patrick Aupperle .. more sence than a Surface RT with its rubber keyboard

          ONLY IF YOU HAVE WINDOWS 7 ON IT
          Over and Out
        • what?

          you act like the point is to buy an iPad and just use it like a laptop... this is something you can do with your iPad you already bought if you'd like, and still have the option of using it like a normal iPad most of the time too, and option you do not have buying some cheap big heavy laptop.
          doh123
          • Except the point of the article...

            Is to justify using an iPad as a laptop replacement. It's not written from the perspective of 'hey - you have an iPad lying around - want to make it useful' it's 'you want to buy a tablet and use it for business.'
            TheWerewolf