Can a Tablet Replace a Laptop?

The challenge: try to survive for an entire week using an Android tablet instead of a laptop.

Working both as a consultant and instructor inevitably requires spending a great deal of time away from the home office. Lugging a laptop has become habitual: I even take the thing on holiday with me! As a significant amount of my work revolves around Android it seemed only logical to at least try to survive without the laptop. So I set myself the challenge of keeping the laptop lid closed for an entire week.

The potential benefits being of this experiment were:

  • No need to check a bag when flying with low-cost airlines that have restrictive handbag policies.
  • Much easier to carry into meetings (and far more fashionable).
  • The potential to improve my knowledge of the real-world challenges of using a tablet.
  • A decrease in chiropractic bills!

Step one was to acquire an appropriate tablet. Whilst I’m a great fan of 7″ tablets, I felt this to be too much of a challenge for my Kindle Fire (which is currently running ICS). After many hours of browsing and a visit to a computer store I selected the Galaxy Tab 10.1. It’s a really awesome piece of kit and at just over GBP 200 for a reconditioned model; a fantastic bargain. The only real downside to the tab is that it is does not (yet) officially run ICS.

On the plus side, one of the big bonuses of the Galaxy Tab is that it comes pre-installed with a reasonable set of apps. The plan therefore was to try to work with the standard software on the Tab.

So how did it go? I have to confess to being somewhat disappointed: I’m massively less productive using the tablet than my laptop!

The main problems were with the on-screen keyboard being so slow that it disrupted my thought process and the word-processing software being very immature. I experimented with a wide-variety of different applications and keyboards but the bottom line is that Android tablets still have some way to go to provide a replacement for the trusty laptop.

It’s not all bad news though, I’ve discovered a great IDE for Android called AIDE which enables me to maintain and perhaps even develop apps on the tablet. In addition, I’ve a load of new ideas for future blog entries on the specific issues I encountered.

Finally a confession: I did start this entry on the tablet but sadly, the keyboard limitations drove me back to the laptop. I’m about to order a keyboard for the Tab in the hope I can finally escape the laptop.

Which do you prefer? Share your feedback!

Mike Way

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