Going shopping for new gear? Not sure what to get? You are not alone.
Computing for the average consumer has come a very long way, with more options today than I can ever remember. It’s a good thing, because we have choices. It’s a bad thing, because we have a lot of choices. What complicates things is that the right answer is different for everyone, because not everyone uses technology in the same ways.
This is where you come in – you get to decide what’s the best choice based your own computing needs and patterns. What I’ll give you is a short list of things to consider while you think about how you’re going to work.
Producing versus Consuming
I am a producer. I write things. I code things. I need a keyboard.
Once you utter that “K” word, it’s time to be thinking about a laptop or desktop computer. I’ve talked to a lot of people thinking about getting a tablet (iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom or something else like it); they want computing in a small and mobile package. However, the more they talk about what they need it to do, the more it makes sense for them to get a laptop. If you’re going to be doing a lot of authoring, editing and the like, the flexibility of applications on a keyboard-equipped device will be far more appealing (and a lot easier to use).
Consuming, however is a different story. I’m also a consumer, in that I read a lot of things. My iPad makes that task immensely easier. In my opinion, the iPad is the best content consumption device ever made (so far). So for me, it’s makes sense to have a mix of devices.
Mobility and WiFi
Mobile is the catchphrase of the year (and has been for a while in my world). People seem to want the Internet and computing available wherever they are – this is where things like the tablet (when equipped with 3G/4G connectivity) are really attractive. Today’s smartphones also meet these needs, in that they provide access through the data plan tied to the phone. Frankly, a smartphone is really just a very small computer with a voice option, and it can do a lot of interesting things.
Usually, people with this kind of connectivity requirement also need for the computer device to be as small and portable as possible. Again, playing right into the smartphone/tablet option.
So what about those that need mobility and power/functionality? There’s talk of laptops having 3G/4G connections built into them (if they’re not available already). Mobile hotspots are available. Some mobile phone packages permit the creation and use of a private mobile hotspot using the phone’s data connection (additional fees from the mobile carrier quite often apply). Choose the right solution that helps you work the most efficiently.
Do you need to use a printer? Connect a scanner? Hook up an external disk drive? If your answer to any of these is yes, then be very thorough in your decision making if you go the tablet route. While some can print, most cannot – and all of them would have a lot of problems accepting connections from other things. Just food for thought.
So if you’re out there looking at that new iPad as your laptop replacement, think long and hard about it – there’s a reason you purchased that laptop in the first place.