Ask LH: Which Tablet Should I Buy For Work?

Dear Lifehacker, I need some advice! My employers want to buy me an iPad or an Android equivalent. I'm leaning more towards Android, largely for its warm-inner-glow-from-opensource-ness, but am not very familiar yet with its suitability for enterprise/work environments (would, for example, it work with our Citrix gateway?). I was wondering if you could ask Lifehacker readers with experience with both what they thought? Thanks, Tablet Dilemma

Dear Tablet Dilemma,

It's a good question, and one that I'm sure our readers will have plenty of opinions about. It's also one to which there isn't a single "correct" answer, since there's a lot of variables to consider. Here's a few to think about:

  • How much money are you planning to spend? In absolute cost terms, Android devices are often a little cheaper (for instance, currently the original Galaxy Tab can be had from Telstra for $299). Supply can be an equally relevant issue — right now, Apple is quoting a 2-3 week delivery time for the iPad 2
  • How confident are you of your own tech skills? And how much support is your employer offering? If everyone else in the company already has an iPad, you'll have a much smoother ride sticking with that than choosing the less common option. If the device is essentially your responsibility, then your own skills and inclinations become more important.
  • Which specific apps do you need to access on the device? For the most part, browser-based work options will run equally well on either platform, unless Flash (which isn't supported on the iPad) is an important component. You mention Citrix; a Citrix Receiver client is available as a free download for both iPad and Android , so that shouldn't cause too many dramas.
  • Can you run iTunes on your work PC? If your employer has a locked-down configuration that precludes that, syncing an iPad could be a nuisance on occasion. Android is less reliant on such connections and you can configure a device without ever connecting it to a computer, though your desktop rights also a consideration if you're planning to replace the supplied installation with your own custom image.

And with that said, we'll throw it open for discussion. Which tablet option has worked better in your workplace environment?

Cheers Lifehacker


    Getting itunes out through a corporate network is a hassle. Be on good terms with your network and windows admin before you try - because finding the block point usually requires trawling logs and experimenting with changing service configurations and ISA clients or proxy settings.

    Both Itunes and Android CAN support your citrix farm - but getting them working through your CAG can require some certificate shennanigans and if you've self signed your CAG cert - it can be a real hassle to get root certificates installed on your tablet.

    For me, it's kind of a budget vs hassle thing. If I had the CEO asking about a device that would access citrix published apps and shared desktops and not overly concerned about budget or additional functionality - I'd go ipad. It's a bit smoother for the non technical user and it's nice to show off to the other CEO's in the qantas club. If someone from ICT wanted a tablet reccomendation - I'd lean towards a Galaxy.

      Depends on what you want to do. If you want to look 'cool and trendy' buy an ipad. If you want to look 'nerdy' buy an android. They are all basically the same anyway. The O/s is the only difference.

        > If you want to look ‘cool and trendy’ buy an ipad. If you want to look ‘nerdy’ buy an android.

        lol they look exactly the same to 99% of the population. You look like a nerd regardless of the tablet you choose.

    Being an Android fanboy, I would say the iPad offers more maturity than the Android equivalent just at this moment. If you can wait a bit then get a dual core Android Honeycomb tablet when they arrive. Google develops updates rapidly so Honeycomb will become awesome if it isn't already, you just need to make sure you have the hardware to accept the upgrades so that means you want the NVIDIA Tegra dual core goodness if you go Android. If you have to buy now I'd say get an iPad.

    I too am an Android fanboy, but not blind to what Apple provides - an iPad will give you that rock solid iAppleness that you get with all iApple products, and you'll find 1000 accessories with your eyes closed, just by waving a blunt stick.

    The one thing that draws me to Android over Apple is its personalisation - with an aTab, you get that desktop customisability (better suited for business), whereas with an iPad you only get a bunch of icons and notifications. Personally I like to be able to see everything (calendar, weather and email) all at a quick glance of my homescreen. Currently you only get that from Android.

    The Android OS is rapidly improving - I don't know Honeycomb, but it would be pretty close to the same polish as Apple - either way, it's developing fast, and should reach, if not overtake Apple soon enough.

    Take NFC, etc. which is only being implemented on Android devices at the moment. Plus you also get a full suite of different devices and screen sizes to choose from.

    Put it this way - if you want something that just works (NOT as in 'almost' works), then go Apple. If you want something that needs a bit of your input and TLC to get something amazing, go Android.

    Don't go Windows.

    Why does your employer want you to buy a tablet? If an employer wants you to have something then they should supply it. That way you don't have to spend 100s of dollars for something. If it was me, Iwould turn around and tell them that if you want me to have this, then you supply it, I would say it more polite than that though.

      "My employers want to BUY ME an iPad or an Android"

        Sorry I read it wrong...sorry about that.

    I am looking into the same thing at the moment. I honestly don't see either the iPad or the android options as 'replace your paper notepad options'. I also want something where i dont have to touch my desktop for days at a time. I know I will be shouted down by the expert fanboys here (on both sides of the fence), but I suggest you consider (like I am) using a windows 7 option. In particular (for me) the motion computing CL900. (it has 10 hr battery life) Essentially you have proper Access to the full office suite (not a compromised version) and full hackability. has a great blog on this (including a video blog which can be seen on YouTube- do a search for oztabletpc)

    To me, I don't want to compromise on ability to do real work when I am mobile hence why I would consider w7 over iOS or android.

    There are a lot of people who parrot that windows and touch don't mix but they never really point out why or how it doesn't work.

    Lifehacker is this something you could actually do a decent review on - the actual shortcomings of windows 7 on modern tablets (not just the historical stigma?) with real life examples?

      I kinda agree here, although I don't think you can look at the popular tablets as an alternative to any desktop environment - in reality, you'll never be able to just switch over to a tablet for 'real' work.

      Let's face it, any virtual keyboard is going to be garbage, not matter how good it is.

      Really, it depends where on the 'techline' you want to be:


        Exactly. And for me and what I do (I'm an engineer, I spend long periods of time at meetings/ on a construction site) being able to be productive and not having to resort to second rate software of the quickoffice ilk means a lot. If I had the money, yes I would also buy an iPad for fun and games, but for a pure workhorse I think w7 wins hands down. No it's not cool and sexy and no it doesn't have a pretty cover which only protects the screen (seriously whats up with the coolest marketing feature being the new cover) but can you also get your pen out and scribble/doodle. Also onenote seems a very powerful tool.

      True, although you'll never be able to use a tablet device as a replacement for a desktop environment, otherwise you're going to be horrible disappointed.

      Let's face it, any virtual keyboard, no matter how good it is, is never going to be a replacement for the real thing.

      Full blown office suite - yes, that great, especially when smartphone (and probably tablet versions) don't support macros or VBA; however, it also means they're not optimised for tablets wither (swings and roundabouts, I guess).

      Really, it all depends where on the 'techline' you want to be:


    Very insightful.


    Oh, this is annoying - I replied to another post, which killed my first post, then I rewrote my first post, which has now duplicated itself.

    I can plug in a keyboard and mouse to my notion ink Adam tablet. It's got 2 usb ports + 1 mini usb & hdmi built straight into it. There ain't much I can't do on that thing (once rooted of course. But YouTube can help with that). Logmein app works awesome too so can even use my win 7 or MAC machine if needed when abroad.. as cheap as an ipad. Might be an option works for me.

    I've got a Win7 tablet because I need it to run windows applications that have no android or ipad equivelant. Sure the UI isn't as enjoyable but it connects to the domain easily and is compatible with everything. If your tablet is for work, get something that allows you to work otherwise it's just a toy that may allow you to access your email and web. The tablet has 2 usb ports so I can easily plug in a keyboard and mouse if I want...oh, and it's heaps cheaper than the ipad. Downside...some drivers contain Engrish or worse so it's not well supported...this isn't anyway...which I purchase on aliexpress. I'm hoping someone comes out with a Win7 tablet domestically soon. HTC perhaps? Android is fine for web and media but neither it nor the ipad is good for actual work. If it can't run something like dreamweaver, illustrator or MS Office...what's the point?

    Where in the USA can I buy the Tablet like you have with two USB and HDMI ports. I never seen
    a Tablet with the ports set up like yours. Also what is the model number and Brand name.
    Thanks much for that answer for me. Willie of Lynchburg, Va.

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