Tablets at work and play: Consider the weight

Tablets at work and play: Consider the weight

Summary: Whether buying a tablet for work or play, remember the weight factor if you want to actually use it.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Tablets
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iPad on scale

Tablets are everywhere, in all shapes and sizes. The size directly determines how big a screen is used, and also the all-important weight of the device. The latter may be the most important criteria determining how much the tablet ends up being used.

There are tablets ranging from 7 inches to as large as 13. There are thin ones and others not so thin. Some tablets weigh mere ounces, and others top the scales at three pounds. There's no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to tablets. Different folks like different things, and that's especially true of gadgets used in the hand.

While there are those who like a nice, big tablet, I believe excess weight will end up putting many people off. That becomes a factor after using a tablet for a while, and I think some will tire of any tablet that weighs much more than a pound.

Even if a tablet is light enough to feel good, most tablet owners end up putting a case of some type on them. It's not very practical to expose a naked tablet to the bumps of the road, so a protective case is in order. Some tablets owners, and I'm in this camp, want a case with a little keyboard inside.

It's not always a conscious decision; sometimes picking up a tablet in a heavy case is all it takes to decide to leave it behind.

Tablet cases, even the thinnest and lightest of them, add precious weight to the slate. In my experience, once a tablet with case approaches two pounds in weight, it starts getting left behind. It's not that it's too heavy to carry or use, it's more that the desire to do so is diminished greatly the heavier the package.

I find that to be true even with the one pound iPad Air and the less-than-a-pound Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. With anything but the lightest of cases covering them, deciding to take them with me is not as likely. That's why I only buy light cases or covers for my tablets.

It's not always a conscious decision; sometimes picking up a tablet in a heavy case is all it takes to decide to leave it behind. It's not that I can't handle the tablet in the case, it's that I don't want to. For me, tablets should be so light that I don't think about them when I carry them and use them. Take them out, use them, and put them away. If the weight makes me stop and think about it, it's likely a lost cause and I'll end up taking something else most of the time.

Your situation may differ, but for me the tipping point is in the area of two pounds for the total package. Take the iPad Air at one pound. If I add a case, that takes it past the two-pound limit, and it doesn't feel right. I like a good case as much as the next guy. but push my limit and it's a no-go.

Take my Asus Transformer T100 hybrid tablet, the 1.2 pound tablet is perfect in my view. Add the laptop dock, which takes the package up to 2.4 pounds, and I stop to think if I want to carry and use it. I end up leaving it behind more often than not, and the weight is the sole reason.

That's the problem I have with the Surface 2 Pro tablet from Microsoft. It's too heavy even without a case for me to want to use it. Two pounds for just the tablet is not something I will consider.

This may seem petty, and once again I stipulate this is my take and not necessarily yours. Having carried and used tablets for years, I do not wish to carry gear to replace a laptop that is as heavy as that laptop. Give me a light tablet with a case that doesn't add a lot of weight, especially for the entire work day. There might be many out there who feel the same way, so weight should be considered when deploying tablets at work.

A few excess ounces in weight sounds like a trivial thing, but it is anything but trivial for daily use.

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Topics: Mobility, Tablets

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20 comments
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  • nonsense

    Average weight of tablets with cases has been well over two pounds for years upon years now. During that time tablets have only gained in popularity. This pretty much disproves the entire point of the article.

    Most people are just not going to run away from a tablet if it has 3 more ounces of weight than you self prescribed minimum weight.

    It may contribute, but I think the biggest area of importance is what a tablet can do for a user, not a couple of ounce difference. Most tablets do not offer anything that a phone can not also offer, which if anything will have a greater impact on the desire to drag around a 10 inch tablet with a kickstand case. especially as the size of phones has been getting larger and larger.
    Emacho
    • Not nonsense

      Are people taking their heavier tablets with them, or using them only at home?
      paul613
    • tablet weight

      I think you missed the point of the article completly. the gentleman said this was Hissss opinion, His personal choice. He's not telling you that you must agree with him, but you should accept it. In this world people should agree to disagree and leave it at that.
      Jamessr1
      • Useless Info

        Who cares what the writer likes and why would he waste time and space writing what does not even measure up to an editorial.
        sickntired44
      • Maybe you missed the point of the article?

        I understood James has set the ceiling for his tablet weight at 2 lbs (or whatever the current generation of iPad is).

        However, he then goes on to apply that logic to the entire tablet market as if the difference of a few ounces will determine how useful these devices are. All this despite the long history of tablets gaining popularity, all while being heavier than he thinks is useful.
        Emacho
    • Disagree

      Emacho, I think tablets would have gained even MORE in popularity if there had been lighter choices available.
      jaykayess
      • Why?

        The iPad has only gotten lighter over the last year. The iPad Mini is even lighter. Yet iPad sales are slowing down and going into decline.

        I just don't think people are holding out on buying tablets so that they can get one that I a couple ounces lighter.


        The weight of a tablet is honestly almost negligible when you look at how the majority of people use them. Go anywhere and the first thing you see is almost every tablet has some form of case bolted on that acts as a kickstand.

        Most people don't sit around fighting gravity to hold their tablet up in the air when there is a well suited vertical surface to hold the tablet for them.


        The majority of those tablets are just large phones. They don't really do anything a phone cannot and it is far easier to carry around a 5 inch or bigger phone than an 8-11 inch tablet.
        Emacho
  • The decision tree

    I'd wager most tablet users also have laptop and smartphone. At any point I can bring one or all of these devices with my for my travels (business and personal).

    It comes down to - what do I expect to do? Can X device meet those needs and eliminate device Y and Z? Majority of people are going to take their smartphone and with many now larger and with output support (HDMI) it's often quite doable to forgo the tablet.

    I'd say 9 times out of 10 I'm taking a smartphone (or two) and my Surface Pro on trips. Sometimes swapping for my Thinkpad X1 if I want a solid keyboard and plan a lot of typing. What doesn't get used is the iPad. It's mostly used for entertainment at this point and the wife and kids use it. Not saying it's a bad device - for my use cases I've just outgrown it and tired of cobbeling together solutions to get functional.

    I'd like to see OS X on a thin 10-12 tablet. I'd buy that in a heartbeat. Why they haven't make the Air like the Yoga or similar seems like a missed opportunity IMO and pushing people to check out the Surface and other devices that expand the functionality.
    MobileAdmin
  • The weight definitely matters to me

    My current tablet, a BlackBerry PlayBook, is fairly heavy. Considering that I like to try and hold it one hand, which tires fairly quickly, I can guarantee you I will be going for a lighter tablet next time, like a Nexus 7 2.0.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
  • Make the case TRULY functional

    My case for my Samsung Galaxy GT-P6800 doubles as my wallet. Since the GT-P6800 is also a fully functional phone, any additional weight of the case and the GT-P6800 is offset by not having to carry a separate phone and a separate wallet around.
    I wear pants with cargo pockets most of the time, but the case/wallet/tablet/phone would fit in an inside jacket pocket.
    I have tried a wireless keyboard for my GT-P6800 but the SUPER KEYBOARD APP puts a keyboard on the screen that is almost as big as the wireless and has more features. Don't type that much anymore anyway since Google Voice recognition is getting better and better.
    CutRightSharpening
  • Consider a stand

    I have a 7" unit I basically bought specifically for church so I don't have to lug a large tablet. (At many Protestant congregations it's pretty much EXPECTED that you'll bring a Bible -- even though they show the scriptures on screens.)

    I originally had a 10" Asus TF101 that suddenly cratered and I replaced it with a 13.3" Azpen planning to watch videos. I use those mainly for reading, although I do have a keyboard and the Azpen is large enough to use for writing. I found even the Asus uncomfortably heavy for reading. I bought a small wire stand and it works fine. If I had to carry around the tablet while using it, the weight definitely would be a huge factor.

    Another equally important consideration is screen size. Just to see Win 8.1 in touch mode I set up remote desktop on the Azpen. Although it works, for desktop programs such as a word processor the screen is just too small. Given the choice of the Azpen or my 15.6" laptop, if I had to regularly do content creation and not just consumption I would use the laptop.
    Rick_R
  • Why only one case?

    If those few ounces make that big a difference why not buy two cases? One with the keyboard, one without. Considering the cost of the tablet itself another case shouldn't be a big deal cost wise.
    MajorlyCool
  • Agreed, but on a different scale.

    I actually take my ASUS Transformer Book T100 everywhere, precisely because it's so much lighter than my other mobile computing platforms, besides my Moto X. I actually bought it to replace a MacBook Pro and iPad 3 combo, so my point of reference is more like going from 6 pounds to 3.
    I will admit, I wanted an 8 incher, but I wanted features that just weren't there. (Charging while using USB Host, HDMI, etc...)
    Defiantstyles
  • Tablet vs. Laptop

    James, I agree with you on the weight issue. But, I see it tablet vs. laptop. Most laptop even the thin and lightweight, weight 4lbs or more. So here the tablet is my choice. Keep in mind, that I want the same functionality and use as a laptop. The only one that fits the bill will be the Surface Pro. It does weight 2lbs plus what plus the weight of the type keyboard, which I don't know how much it weights. The idea that the keyboard feels like a cover and the pen can be use as a mouse makes it more useful for me. The work I do requires legacy programs, not Apps, so that eliminate the IPad and any Android tablets, Chromebook and Apple Air laptop. The Dell Venue works fine (8" or 11") but the keyboard is not that well integrated like the Surface. All other Windows tablet suffer the same issue with the keyboard or the weight goes up.

    I have the Dell Venue 8" and like the weight like you mention, but sometimes wish the bigger screen. So the Surface with the 10.6 screen and 2lbs plus weight vs. the 8" Dell and less than 1lbs weight. Size vs. weight. Make your choice.
    jazzy2945
  • Still use my HP Touchpad at 1.3 pounds

    I agree weight is important for encouraging regular use. However emacho is right - weighty tablets sell. I think you have a disparity between what impresses at the store (screen size / resolution / etc.) and what makes a tablet useful.

    I have Android on an HP Touchpad. Even though I like WebOS there aren't many apps available. To the point, it is kind of heavy especially if gaming and holding. My take on weight is it really depends on what you will use the tablet for. If for gaming or multimedia on the go the lighter the better. A 7 to 8 inch screen seems best for me. Got a great deal on a Nexus 7 2013 from T mob and overall it's a very useful tool.

    If you are going to work bigger is often better even if it means weight. My 1.3 pound Touchpad on a stand with a BT mouse/keyboard is pretty darn nice. All other things being equal, lighter is better, but for working at a hotel room or on a plane a little weight is okay.

    The best for the trade off is probably an 8 inch tablet. I think the 7-8 inch range is a good one for gaming and multimedia with some work involved.

    It's a wild place right now with phablets to large tablets to chromebooks all vying for our attention. I believe everyone has different needs and all of these have a niche of some sort. Where tech will succeed iws where battery life goes up and weight does down.
    cnsouthwick
  • Boy nothing but whining from this guy!

    My tablets too heavy waaa!
    Cry us a river!
    spikey289
  • This Article is Confusing

    James - you say that too heavy (2+ lbs) makes you want to leave it behind, but how can you square that with your other preference for having a case with a keyboard? The iPad Air is a really nice weight (and heft - combination of weight and weight distribution) BUT I have yet to find a case/cover that doesn't push it to 2 pounds and/or the total thickness of a Surface Pro. Pick your poison...
    dksmidtx
  • Cut Some Weight

    There's little reason to use a keyboard these days, when Swype and/or SwiftKey are available. A few hours of time spent getting used to and learning the ins and outs of them is more than worth the effort.

    There goes almost a pound! Not to mention the cost of a keyboard case.
    onefussyone
  • a tablet must be perfect

    which includes being as light as possible. This completely rules out the concept of any windows pro tablet. If I want windows I'll have it on a hefty laptop with screen/keyboard real estate. I no longer have a tablet because I have a limited tech budget and just don't *need* one. I have owned several android based ones and an ipad. Every one of them has has some shortcomming inherent to the tablet form factor. I like tablets just fine in general but I now have a chromebook. My only regret is not getting the touchscreen version of the Acer C720, because it would be better for games. Sure the iPad is probably the *best* tablet because it has the most apps, but the 10" iPad is physically too big and the mini's software interface is too small since it doesn't scale.
    drwong
  • There is No Perfect Tablet

    But we can always dream can't we. I went to a meeting the other day a few hundred miles away. Took the high speed rail and was happy to tote around a Surface Pro instead of a much heavier laptop. However while using it I really missed my thinner and lighter Surface RT. When I got back home I put the Surface Pro away and enjoyed my RT the rest of the evening.

    Of course, there may be as many perfect tablets as there are people dreaming about them, but for me tablet heaven would be ...

    One pound in weight (I agree with James here)
    less than 1cm thick
    12-inch screen
    digitizing pen
    detachable keyboard/cover (that does not add more than a few ounces to the weight)
    Windows (9?)
    wireless video

    Of course, what I am describing here is my perfect laptop replacement in a tablet form-factor. I may have to wait a bit (2 years) but I am pretty sure it will come. And when it does, it will be the 90's all over again.
    Curtis Quick