Daily dilemma: Choosing iPad, Android, or Windows tablet

This tech addict owns five tablets and must choose one to use each day. This is how I do it.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
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

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
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.

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