Last year I began doing the unthinkable, using either an iPad or an Android tablet with an external keyboard to do real work. The sharing of that positive experience generated an outpouring of negative responses about the practice. The overwhelming reaction to the thought of using a tablet for real work was that it was a foolish thing to do.
Even though Windows 8 won't be out until next month, as early looks are given of tablets running the new OS the thoughts of many are turning to using them for serious tasks. Those of us already using tablets for serious work are seeing public opinion begin to change about the practice.
Very few topics I have written about have generated such negative reactions as the subject of using a tablet instead of a laptop. A popular criticism was that using an external keyboard with a tablet was cheating. Another regularly heard reaction was that using such hardware was too big a compromise to be practical.
"If you need to add an external keyboard for the dumb thing...then why not just buy a laptop/netbook/ultrabook, and be done with it."
"Sounds like you simply built yourself an ultra thin laptop with a touch screen display. So why are you so excited?? An ultra thin laptop would give you more power and options."
The typical comments to the left overlook the advantages I gain by using a tablet/keyboard combination and the fact that I already owned a tablet for other uses. The primary advantages in no particular order:
Battery life: 10 - 12 hour minimum means never worrying about finding a power outlet, unlike laptops.
Portability: I can carry the tablet/keyboard around in a simple folio case. There is nothing comparable with a laptop for similar cost.
It's still a tablet: Laptops are restricted in how they can be used, but I can use my tablet by itself when I want. That makes it more versatile depending on my needs at any given time.
Since Microsoft unveiled the Surface tablets due to hit later this year, the thoughts of many have been directed to the prospect of using them for serious work. There are no doubt many who require Windows to get their job done, and now they will have a highly portable option to do so.
The realization that tablets with keyboards can be used for productive purposes, specifically for heavy content creation, is vindication for those of us who have been doing so for quite a while.
Microsoft has stoked the imagination of users with Windows 8 and the Surface tablets, and that is wonderful. I can't wait to get my hands on a Surface RT tablet with the keyboard cover to give it a try. I am a tablet kind of guy, after all.