BYOD: Be safe with a notebook, leave the tablet at home

Many folks are bringing their own device to work, and a common question asked is notebook or tablet? Since we're talking work, better leave the tablet at home.

JK iPad with Keyboard

I've made it clear in past coverage that I can do a lot of my work using a tablet instead of a notebook computer. The tablet work can be done with either the onscreen tablet keyboard, or better with an external keyboard for lots of text entry. I've also repeatedly stated that this depends on the work tasks you need to do. What most folks should do with BYOD programs is take the easy route and bring a notebook to work.

A lot of people are actively considering going whole hog with a tablet and leaving the notebook behind. While many people can probably do that just fine, it's not without risk. We are talking work here, so the one task you absolutely must get done quickly that turns out to be impossible on the tablet will be a show stopper.


Tablets are certainly capable devices, and for the most part much easier to deal with than notebooks so it's not surprising many are trying to go with the former and leave the latter behind. I am quite happy using a tablet for many work functions where I would have previously used a notebook. But notebooks are better at some tasks than the tablet, and most people will end up regretting going the tablet only route.

Almost every day I hear from someone asking the tablet/ notebook question on the behalf of a "friend/colleague/family member" and my answer is always to go with the notebook. Nothing will turn you from hero to zero faster than recommending a tablet over a notebook, only to have the tablet user need to do a work function that can't be done without a notebook. You'll be off the Christmas list pretty darn quickly.

While some tasks that seem to require a notebook can actually be done on a tablet with a little extra work, when a work deadline looms large is not the time to be dealing with figuring out how to make tablets work. The notebook is safer, just turn it on and get the work done. That's the best approach for most people and what I recommend.

That's not to say the tablet can't do a lot of work tasks, but for most it serves a better role as an auxiliary device. Having a tablet alongside a notebook is a useful tool, and while some can get away with only the tablet most can't.

With tablets getting cheaper, like the $199 Nexus 7, if your friend/colleague/family member can afford it tell them to get one in addition to the standard notebook. Don't risk being a zero, the notebook will better serve most BYOD participants. Having the tablet too will let them see how it fits their work needs without risk.

Of course, the Microsoft Surface tablets with keyboard case may straddle the notebook/tablet fence . We'll have to review this once they are available to buy.