Ask LH: Do I Need A Laptop Or A Tablet?

Dear LH, Please don't be too harsh on me. I am quite the noob when it comes to computers in general. I need to purchase a laptop -- or maybe a tablet. I would appreciate any (simple) suggestions you have.

Basically, instead of a filing cabinet, I will use this to make notes on clients. I have an android phone and people have told me that whatever I put in my phone's calender, it will sync with my computer, which would be awesome. I'd like good battery life, I'm prepared to spend around $1500, and I don't want anything too bulky (I'm okay with 1.2 kilograms or so).

I've eyeballed the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 13 and the Surface. Do I need this kind of device or something else? Suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks, Tech Noob

Dear Tech Noob,

From the sound of it, you won't need a machine that can handle an onslaught of taxing applications at once, so we'd strike premium models like the Yoga 13 off your list (unless you really want to impress your clients). Instead, save some money and plump for a mid-range tablet. You'll still be able to sync to your phone's calendar, no matter what you buy.

The Nexus 7 is a good all-rounder that can currently be purchased from JB Hi-Fi for $240. The Nexus 7 is extremely compact and has solid battery life (you can expect around 10 hours of active use in-between charges). It runs on Google's Android operating system, so the interface should be nice and familiar to you.

Another Android tablet worth checking out is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - it boasts a larger 10.1-inch screen and comes with an inbuilt stylus suitable for sketching and note taking. If you like the idea of adding handwritten notes to onscreen documents, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a good option. It can be snapped up for around $550.

The main downside to a tablet is the lack of a keyboard, which can make using word processors and other typing applications annoying. That said, both of the above models have keyboard accessories (sold separately) that essentially turn them into miniature laptops.

Before purchasing, it's always a good idea to get some hands-on experience with a tablet to ensure it caters to your specific requirements. If you're planning to order online, try and give it a test in the shops first.

One final piece of advice: whatever machine you choose, make sure you back up your clients' files regularly with a cloud storage service like Dropbox -- for all their strengths, computers aren't nearly as fail-safe as a filing cabinet, so it pays to be prepared!

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    In before "you mean Galaxy Note 10.1 which is currently $494 at JB"
    The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 can be snapped up even cheaper but the performance leaves a bit to be desired.

    There are better variants of the Surface. If you want something flashy and don't mind the price look at the transformer style tablets. They are asking a lot (~$1k give or take) for Atom processors, but a lot feature battery life well surpassing some tablets (backup batteries in the dock), metal construction, Full-HD screens, Wacom stylus and physical keyboard input with similar performance to a tablet but with a x64 Windows OS (less restrictive multitasking, support for x86 software & Flash).

    They're also hardly bigger than a 10" tab when undocked. On the budget hand, you can find plastic keyboard-less tablets for half that price and pair it with wireless input devices and stands as or if you see fit.

    The article's recommendation of a Nexus 7 might be so you don't feel so down when you realise it doesn't do everything you expected (which seems likely since you considered laptops in the first place). Where it wins in portability and price-to-performance ratio, it's hardly a work machine.

    And last but not least, if you don't currently own a top tier Android, once you see the smooth performance of the N7, you'll probably want to upgrade your handset. :P
    There's another $400+.

    Then you'll still want a laptop.

    Think about it like this. What programs do you always use? Do you always type or do you need to type using a keyboard? Try using a tablet in a dick smith or apple store and type on the onscreen keyboard for 20 minutes or so and see how you like that seeing as that is most likely what you will have to do with most tablets.

    If you can get by with an iPad then that would be great as the battery lasts a very long time! At least a full day doing a lot of tasks. I never have to worry about the battery running out and i watch videos, access the internet, play games, etc.

    You can also get some nice keyboard accessories for the iPad (Logitech Ultra-thin Keyboard) for example. Also you can purchase the Apple equivalent Microsoft Office suite from the App Store.

    Having said all that, I remembered you are using an android phone which the calendars won't sync as fluently/easily and may require some fiddling.

      What is the Apple equivalent of Microsoft Office on the app store?

        iWork - it's a Word, PowerPoint and Excel equivalent: Pages, Keynote and Numbers.
        The Outlook equivalent is called Mail, but I think that comes standard with OSX.

    Jedar, the equivalent for the MS Office suite on the App Store is iWork (Pages - Word, Numbers - Excel, and Keynote - PowerPoint.

    the thing with syncing calendars on android is that you are better to sync an exchange or Google calendar through the internet than worrying about plugging in and syncing the phones calendar.

    to decide between the two, you need to ask your self if you can learn something new quickly or rather sick with what you know.

    with android what works on your phone will likely work on an android tablet. hence you can try out the work flow with your phone and if all your missing is a larger screen you have your answer. (blue tooth keyboards are available from about $30 if that is all you are missing.) try king soft office on android, it can sync with online services directly.

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