Tablets at work and play: Consider the weight

Whether buying a tablet for work or play, remember the weight factor if you want to actually use it.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
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.

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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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