Common Tasks on a Tablet

Getting Things Done on Your iPad

Tablets are not designed to do any one thing. They are supposed to be multimedia, multi-task devices that can take your regular computing tasks on the road. Some devices do a better job at certain tasks than others, but for the most part the major brands offer a large number of options for just about any situation.

Right now, there is a big focus on hardware in the tablet market. The market is new, manufacturers are still getting into the action and while ecosystem generation is important, the hardware underneath it all is playing a major role in most comparisons. But, as hardware stabilizes and consumers get comfortable with one or another ecosystem, the focus will shift to how each of these tablets performs common tasks we need out of a computer.

Web Browsing

First on the list has to be web browsing. I’ll wager a guess that the majority of tablet users spend a lot of time viewing web sites. There is something magical and easy about the touch screen interface and the Internet – it just makes sense.

But, what about the current offerings for web browsers. Safari recently got a nice speed boost with the 4.3 firmware while the Xoom is set to get the Flash upgrade promised for Honeycomb. Internet Explorer 9 just launched for Windows tablet users and it looks good. But, what makes a browser truly effective for a tablet PC?

Advertisement

To me it’s a combination of speed and common features. Tabbed browsing, 100% access to all web content (regardless of the impact on battery) and easy access to history and bookmarks are a must. I don’t want to feel like anything I do on the Internet takes longer than it would on my PC.

Editing Documents

For those of us who use our tablets for work, document editing is a must. No tablet PC comes out of the box with document editing tools but the software available on the platform can greatly affect how well each device performs in this arena. Windows tablets can run Microsoft Office, albeit without the added touch controls that would make it so ideal for a tablet. Android has Documents to Go. The iPad has iWork and Quick Office.

The options are out there, but are they ideal yet? I’m hoping that in the months to come we’ll see the development of a smooth transition between desktop and tablet editing. It’s good to be able to open a file from my desktop on a tablet via Dropbox, but what if I actually need to make significant changes to it?

Email and Chat

For casual users, a tablet is a great hub for communication with your friends and family. With most major brands having a front facing camera for video chat and email interfaces being intuitive and simple, communication on a tablet couldn’t be easier.

For heavy business users, the lack of in-depth tools like touch-optimized Outlook, scheduling, and direct integration of calendars to your email is less than ideal, but overall email support within a tablet ecosystem is far better than many other common tasks.

Recently our email server (Exchange box) died and I was able to migrate to Google Apps and yet still have my favorite email client, Outlook, host all my emails on my Tablet. I learned a great deal about the power of cloud and was even more convinced that we should remain knowledgeable enough to utilize the best of all the tools available to us.

What Else?

How do you use your tablet and how would you use it in the future if certain key upgrades or Apps were released for your ecosystem of choice? Is anything “perfect” yet or do you see multiple areas for improvement?

Comments

  1. Honeycomb Tablet says

    I’m waiting for the Asus Eee Pad Transformer so I can have a tablet & netbook all in one device. I think Android Honeycomb is a great tablet UI that will work just fine as a “netbook.” The built in ability to use a mouse with the keyboard is a big bonus when needing to do document editing, especially for spreadsheets.

    There are a few decent mobile “office” suites available for Android and Softmaker Office will be released soon which is a decent replacement for MS, and I think Google docs will do very well with the new Chrome browser in Honeycomb.

    So, for me Android Honeycomb has a great browser though it does need to be better and that takes care of the web. Because of the full browser & flash support it opens up more options for web apps especially document editing, image editing, and text editing, though there is room for improvement there.

    Email is great on Honeycomb any way you look at it. Use the app or the browser. Would love to see gmail talk get phone calls like on the desktop!

    The final bit for me is entertainment. HD games are coming to the Tegra 2 and I expect more quality games in general for Android now that devices are selling like hotcakes on a Sunday morning. However, the out-of-the-box codec support for videos could be greatly improved and I would really like to see MHL usb support on these tables so I can control them via the TV–it would also be great to see the ability to play a video to TV while still using the tablet for other tasks. Mirroring is OK but you have to “minimize” the video to do anything.

    OK, that’s about it for me :D

    • Hugo Ortega @MrMobilePC says

      @Honeycomb: Great comment. I like the idea of multi-tasking with productivy apps and entertainment. It’s something I do very often. I’m looking forward to more Android Market apps to test too!

  2. Anonymous says

    I won’t even think of abandoning the Windows Tablet PC ’til I see a closer realization of the Courier concept. It’s important that I can write and draw in OneNote and certain other apps.

    As things currently stand, the HTC Flyer shows some small promise (being the first Android slate to have N-trig DuoSense), and if that beta version of MobileNoter supports the N-trig pens, it’ll already be closer to that Courier experience…but I’m not willing to be an early adopter on an unproven system at the moment, hence why I took my spending money and used it on an HP 2730p recently.

    I don’t think so much about “How can a tablet work for conventional computing tasks?” nearly as much about “How can a tablet work for pen and paper tasks?” There’s an awful lot of dead tree sheets out there, even today, and I think the lack of pen input in most conventional computers is part of it. Most of these new media slates get the portability aspect right, but I don’t find a capacitive stylus alone to offer a satisfactory inking experience. Some don’t even consider Wacom’s digitizers to be good enough to replicate a pen-and-paper experience, due to the slight irregularities in certain areas (especially the edges and corners).

    • Hugo Ortega @MrMobilePC says

      Hi NamelessFragger,

      Like you I support pen input as my main reason for Tablet use. It’s funny how many poeple just don’t “get that” but your point about the environmental impact should be reason enough. A friend of mine is an Environmentalist (Jon Dee – of “Do Something!”) and he owns a TEGA v2 and an iPad 2 and with both he has managed to work completely paperless (other than small tasks). He thinks the pen is the only thing missing from the iPad and like many of us, he sees the pen as the missing link. As per a recent comment from another reader of my articles said “the next big thing from apple will be a stylus perhaps”. LOL

  3. Clchu85 says

    Sorry to be off topic; but I love that ink bottle w/ pen icon. What program is that for?

Leave a Reply