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Take Two Tablets and Call me in the Morning, or Why Using Two Different Sized Tablets Makes Sense to Me



I’m a two Tablet kinda guy these days. Actually, depending on how you qualify things in this age where qualifying things occasionally needs more qualification, I could be called a three Tablet kind of guy. The reason? Google finally put itself on the path to understanding what it takes to create a decent Tablet experience with the Nexus 7. Although I’ve been pilloried, tarred and feathered, and railed against in the past for not liking the 7-inch form factor and the Android experience, I have nothing against either the smaller devices or Android. I just think they never measured up to what I (there’s a qualifier in case you’re counting) expected out of a Tablet.

So, here’s the deal. The Nexus 7 is the first of what I hope Google continues to improve upon when it comes to Android Tablets. As I’ve said previously, I’m impressed. So much so that I’m now toting both a Nexus 7 and an iPad daily. (I’ll get to that third Tablet down the line.) I know that’s probably not the normal scenario. Most folks will choose one Tablet and be happy. But this two Tablet scenario is one that works well for me. Actually, it is working better and better the more I find myself working and playing this way.

Here’s why:

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IMG_1975My days are pretty much equally divided between creating and consuming. I do a lot of reading and research. I do a lot of writing and report creation. I also do a lot of digital note taking in rehearsals and meetings. I could very easily spend my time doing all of that on the iPad. I did until the Nexus 7 came along. Now that the Nexus 7 is in my arsenal, I find there are many times (stall surfing, meal breaks, script research, reading) where I prefer the 7-inch form factor for much of that kind of work/play. But there are also times (some of the same above, plus writing and note taking) where I prefer the larger form factor iPad.

The iPad excels in the creation parts of my day. (Note that a desktop and a laptop do also). There is a synergy, or a connection, or a fuzzy, warm gut feeling I have with the size of the iPad display and an attached keyboard that allows me to focus on what I’m doing. That larger screen size also works very well for me when using a stylus.

I’ve tried to do some of that work on the Nexus 7 but my reactions are totally different when doing so. This is an emotional response but that combo just doesn’t resonate in the same way for me as an effective tool set. Can it be used that way? Sure. But my enjoyment experience is much less when I do. Believe it or not, the enjoyment factor weighs heavily with me when it comes to choosing the tools I use.

The bottom line for me is that the iPad serves the note-taking and other work related functions very well. Both the iPad and the Nexus 7 serve the reading, listening, viewing, browsing, functions well, and in most of those cases I prefer the Nexus 7 because of its size. And the key is that I can now switch back and forth with ease when I’m in consumption mode between either Tablet/OS.

Two future points to look at here. First, the rumors about some sort of smaller iPad have reached the white hot stage. For many that’s a done deal. As someone who has been skeptical about Apple’s intentions here, I’m finding myself less so. Some think a smaller iPad will crush any nascent 7-inch offerings on the Android platform. I’m not so sure if crush is the right word, but it will force the Android folks to rev things up a bit. Again, I’m an unusual case. I really could care less about which 7-inch Tablet I use, as long as I’m able to do what I need to do and expect to do on it. That said, now that I’ve found an Android Tablet that I actually like to use, I’ll most likely continue down that path, parallel to using an iPad, (or maybe two) if a smaller version of the iPad does materialize. As long as I can go back and forth between both platforms with relative ease, I’ll enjoy that scenario.

Second, I’m sure I’ll be picking up a Windows RT Tablet when they become available to see how that fits into my scenario. I’m looking very much forward to that experience. Microsoft has a long way to go to get me to shake up my current situation, and I’m going to give it a chance.

Now, about that third Tablet. While the size of the Nexus 7 makes it more of a mobile Tablet than the iPad, there are many times I don’t carry either the Nexus 7 or the iPad with me. This is a personal preference, but even with the 7-inch size I don’t find it convenient to use when running errands. Instead I rely on my iPhone for whatever needs I may have or desire when I’m out and about. Certainly I could do the same thing with an Android phone. I’m just not in that camp at the moment. But there is some discussion going around that the 7-inch Tablets might diminish the need for the smaller smartphones. I can see that as a possibility for some. But I can’t see that in my future.

There is a convenience factor in using a smartphone for many of my communication and some of my note-taking needs. If I need to share something quickly with a colleague, I prefer to do so with a smartphone rather than with a Tablet, even though the Tablet is usually within reach.

So, in reality, I guess I’m a three device kinda guy. And I very much enjoy that. Again, my case isn’t yours and I’m not advocating one use case over another, or one solution over another.

I’m curious to know how you view your scenario. Things are evolving in the mobile scene. Is your use case evolving? How do the devices you use serve your use case?



  1. GTaylor

    08/20/2012 at 7:08 am

    In spite of all that is electronically holy, paper is still being made. No one size sheet of paper is made because no one size piece of paper fits all needs.
    Each size fits different uses and scenarios.
    I often have different size pieces of paper in front of me at the same time!
    This is because of the input requirements of the human body and the operating environment that body is dealing with.
    It has nothing to do with consumer electronic marketing.
    Thanks Warner

  2. Roger J

    08/20/2012 at 7:52 am

    Warner, I’m reading less and less the GBM front page, but when I’m just about to give upGBM entirely, you come up with yet another excellent contribution.

    “My days are pretty much equally divided between creating and consuming.”

    THAT’S why I think I enjoy your articles, you seem more of the real world than others.

    I have my first Apple, the new iPad. I’m finding myself not alone in using it more for consuming than for creating. I could go next for the Galaxy Note 10.1, but will probably hold on till the Surface surfaces.

    On the other hand a Galaxy Note around 7.7″ would be handy when my Galaxy S2 is just that much smaller.

    I want a tablet to take all my handwritten notes, not necessarily for recognition and conversion, just all in one place. The iPad does not cut it enough for me.

    • Warner Crocker

      08/20/2012 at 1:26 pm

      Roger J,

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m anxious to see how I feel about the iPad once Windows 8 (RT and PRO) come out and I go back to using OneNote regularly. Given how I take notes, I’ve been content with the iPad and Penultimate as a solution for the note taking and then sending those notes to Evernote for storage. I haven’t forsaken OneNote but I would like to see a good Tablet device with equivalent size, weight and battery life to the iPad. Don’t know if this is the year for that or it will be the next generation, but here’s hoping.

  3. George

    08/20/2012 at 8:02 am

    Um sounds more like ‘how can i justify owning 2 tablets when I don’t really need them both’

    • Warner Crocker

      08/20/2012 at 8:33 am

      Well, there’s certainly room for calling it justification. We actually don’t need any of these devices or advances in technology to get work done. I mean we could all do without that Internet thing if we think about it.

  4. GTaylor

    08/20/2012 at 8:22 am

    Hey George do you have a couple of sizes of spiral bound note pads laying aropund? Or a couple of size TVs?

  5. Steve

    08/20/2012 at 8:58 am

    Very good article. I myself am waiting for Microsoft’s efforts to see how that will fit into my work flow.
    Have you considered the Galaxy Note as an alternative to the iPhone hone? Or is the screen size too close to the 7″ formfactor? I just find that the 3.5″ screen is ridiculously small these days and not conducive to anything other than light email and phone calls!

  6. Paul Mackintosh

    08/20/2012 at 9:35 am

    I’m also already in the three-tablet lifestyle: Acer Iconia W500, Nexus 7 and ZTE Skate. I use the W500 for most of my work, but that is mainly down to Windows legacy issues. If it weren’t for those, I could do most of my work on the Nexus 7 too -and I do a lot of writing. The one proviso is that I use HWR with the 7Notes app – in fact, I just wrote all this with it, in a trice. It makes the Nexus 7 a killer writing tool.

    • Warner Crocker

      08/20/2012 at 11:51 am

      Which version of 7Notes are you using on the Nexus. Haven’t heard of that one before.

      • Paul Mackintosh

        08/20/2012 at 11:59 am

        7notes with mazec for Android – available in Google Play as a regular app. I believe there’s a version for iPad too. Best HWR app I ever found, on any platform. Works just fine on my ZTE Skate as well.

  7. Tal

    08/20/2012 at 9:56 am

    Warner, I think somewhere along the same lines as you do.
    The difference is that my conclusion about not carrying 2 tablets, is that I can do very well with the upcoming 5.5″ Galaxy Note 2. Sure a 7″ could be nicer, but if I have a 10″ windows tablet – it would make more sense than Nexus 7 / iPad mini, along side a Note 10 / iPad.
    As for RT vs. full Win 8, I would not go with anyone who is restricting software or API on its devices. Pardon me mr. Ballmer, but my tablet will have a Chrome browser on it, if I so desire.

    • Warner Crocker

      08/20/2012 at 10:56 am

      Tal and Steve, I have considered and looked long and hard at the Galaxy Note 5 inch Tablets. I’ve chosen not to go that route. The phablet size and functionality would work for me on some levels, but given my budget I’d have to use it as my phone and that doesn’t work the way I carry and use a smartphone. I prefer the smaller sized smartphones than the larger because of how I travel. That said, if there were a way to acquire a Galaxy Note without a contract I’d seriously reevaluate that thinking. BTW, I’m not a fan of the 10.1 Note or Galaxy Tab form factor having used the first Galaxy Tab 10.1. The form factor just doesn’t work for me. That’s a personal thing obviously.

      • Tal

        08/20/2012 at 7:25 pm

        To the best of my knowledge the note can be bought for full price via several stores around the world. Naturally I am more educated regarding Canada … but it should be same for the US.

  8. Aminv

    08/20/2012 at 1:40 pm

    Warner, a lot of us inking enthusiasts are waiting to hear your take on the Galaxy Note 10.1, and the comparison between inking on it and inking on the only relevant competitor, windows TaletPcs.

    BTW, What is so different in the form factor between an iPad and a Galaxy note 10.1, that you prefer crappy inking experience on the iPad to the one on the Galaxy note?

    • Warner Crocker

      08/20/2012 at 3:45 pm


      At some point I may pick up a Note 10.1, but here are the reasons I’ve decided not to at this point.

      1. I’ve tried out two Samsung Tablets, the original 10.1 and one of the 7 inchers. I’ve never liked how either of the devices felt in my hand, which is why I returned them both. I’m not saying Samsung is at fault here, but every Tablet that has made a difference for me just somehow feels right in my hand when I take it out of the box. These did not.

      2. The Note 10.1 form factor wants to be landscape focused. Sure you can turn things around, but I’m a portrait guy mostly. This may be a contributing factor to number 1 above.

      3. From what I know, the Note’s Inking works very well with the included Apps from Samsung. That’s all well and good and might suffice for my needs, but I want to see where digital inking goes with other apps. You mention the inking experience on the iPad. It isn’t what Microsoft offered that’s for sure, but I’ve been very encouraged by the continued worked that iOS Inking App developers are doing. For my digital note taking needs, maybe not yours, the iPad suffices.

      4. There was a nice Evernote Inking experience with one of the HTC devices (The Flyer?). I’m surprised Samsung didn’t look into this as well. I may be wrong on this, but I don’t think you can easily share ink note books with Evernote, as an example. It is important to me that I can do that in my work flow.

      5. The Note 10.1 was released with ICS and not Jelly Bean. Sorry, but any Android Tablet released without Jelly Bean is a non-starter for me and should make anyone question that purchase.

      Don’t get me wrong. If gadget lust takes over and the device appears on the shelves of my local Best Buy (and my wife is no where in sight) I might take the plunge. But as for now, I’m holding off.

      • Roger J

        08/20/2012 at 3:51 pm

        ” . . . but I want to see where digital inking goes with other apps.”

        You hit the nail on the head yet again, which is why I will probably stick around for the Windows 8/RT/Pro tablets.

        That Lenovo Yoga still fascinates me.

    • Warner Crocker

      08/20/2012 at 4:38 pm


      So, you got the best of me. I called my local Best Buy. They had a few in stock (as of today.) I went down with the intention to buy and check it out. But I saw the display unit and thought I would check it out. First, let me just say that the look of the thing with the metal trim that houses the speakers looks awful, IMHO. Second, the unit feels as cheaply as I thought it would. Third, granted this was on a display unit, but things felt laggy (Jelly Bean anyone?)) and lastly, the Inking. It works well. But the tap tap tap of the pen on the screen is just not my thing. I was reminded of the HP consumer Tablets that I just found felt cheap.

      Bottom line, my gadget lust petered out and I left the store after about 1/2 hour of working with the Tablet.

  9. Alex Perry

    08/20/2012 at 5:36 pm

    Nice article. I have had my nexus 7about 2 weeks and already it has taken over almost all of my phone functions. I text from it with tablet talk, do my notes using color notes mainly, all my calendar stuff, navigation, email and reading. And it synchs to my phone and back to the nexus. I just keep my phone in my pocket and use Bluetooth to tie the phone and tablet together so m nexus always has a data connection. I don’t know if I would want to answer phone calls with the nexus, but it is tough to go back to the small screen of my razor Max.

    • Roger J

      08/20/2012 at 10:13 pm

      I work on assignments abroad in ‘strange places with questionable peoples’ and there is no way I can haul reams of paper and piles of files.

      At 65, I am old enough to have worked on ‘real’ spreadsheets ie paper ones, glued together to get enough columns in.

      Thank goodness for IFPS, Lotus, Quattro and Excel, and tablets.

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