Tablets are strange things. They do nothing and everything at once. They're not really capable of anything more than your smartphone is, yet they can't hold a candle to a laptop or desktop. Still, millions upon millions of people are snatching them up and finding a way to fit them into their daily routine – obviously more iPads are being bought than their Android counterparts. But I'm not here to compare Apples to ... Androids. We're talking tablets as a whole.
Despite the 70 million or so tablet owners in the world, there are a lot of people who can't justify owning (or using) a tablet over another device. Two days ago, our own Evan Selleck explained how he has tried time and time again to find the perfect tablet. No matter how many he goes through or what unique feature or add-on a tablet may come with, he cannot find a justifiable reason to keep one around. Inevitably, he returns it every time.
And even Aaron, who just finished reviewing the new iPad, has always told me he has no use for a tablet – that he doesn't care for a device that doesn't bring any added functionality beyond a smartphone or match that of a computer. (I'm almost certain that if a device smaller and lighter than a MacBook Air could handle all of Aaron's workload, he would probably pounce on it in an instant and without second thought. I can already hear him saying, "It's perfect for travel.")
I, however, am on the other end of the spectrum. As Evan explained on Tuesday, I have also been through a slew of different tablets. I've even lost count now. Unlike Evan, though, I have found the perfect spot in my life for a tablet ... or two. (You can never have too many, right?)
I know that I've been over how I use a tablet before, and how a tablet has made me more productive. But a lot has changed since then. And I figure now that there are over three million more tablet owners than there were just last week, this is the perfect time to recap and update how tablets fit into my life, and to see what uses new tablet owners have found for their devices.
If you haven't already read on Twitter or in one of my recent articles, I no longer have a Galaxy Tab 10.1. (So long, Tabby. You were always so good to me ... sort of.) Long story short, TouchWiz killed the Galaxy Tab for me and I got tired of carrying around a Bluetooth keyboard with my tablet everywhere I went. I wanted an integrated keyboard so I sold the Tab and decided to wait. I didn't even last an entire day before I started missing having a tablet around. I found and bought a Transformer Prime that evening.
Much like the original Eee Pad Transformer, the Prime fits perfectly into my routine.
The very first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is grab the Prime off of my nightstand and take it off the charger. I flip it open and start sifting through my Google Reader and checking a few other sites that I frequent. This is how I do 90 percent of my reading and browsing, especially via Google Reader. And I use the Prime, almost exclusively, for reading and responding to Gmail.
If I have to work (if it isn't Tuesday or the weekend), I generally open Google Docs shortly thereafter and begin tapping away at the keyboard, sometimes before I ever get out of bed. Of course, I can't do everything from a tablet – the browser doesn't have all the capabilities I need and Adobe Photoshop Touch doesn't export at high enough quality for me to edit pictures for articles on the device itself. So when I get about 95 percent done writing (and I do this for nearly every article), I sync my document and switch to my MacBook.
But why use the tablet if I'm just going to have to switch to a MacBook later? Why not use the MacBook from the beginning?
For me, it's all about time and concentration. I could spend 15 hours a day sitting behind a computer and writing, tweeting and whatever I could find to distract myself (like Facebook, Geekli.st, etc.). Or I can write from a tablet and work for six to eight hours with significantly more concentration and speed, and enjoy some daylight after work. I have tried everything from different techniques and taking frequent breaks to muster up some concentration. At times, I can work from my MacBook without a problem. But more often than not, I find myself drifting away behind my computer. With a tablet, the slight limitations keep me concentrated and make me work faster and more efficiently.
But it isn't all about work either. I have nearly 50 games installed on my Prime and I play a lot of them – like Shadowgun, Asphalt 6, Flick Golf, Osmos HD and GLWG – frequently. I haven't turned on my 360 or PS3 for anything other than Netflix in months, mainly because I've been so busy. Plus, an hour can quickly turn to several. I simply don't have that much time to waste. So I play a few games on my tablet after work to relax and to slip into sleep mode.
I also use the Prime for casual Web browsing, communicating with some teammates of mine, synchronizing work between us, etc. It works really well for streaming Google Music, too, as long as you're using headphones. And, occasionally, I use it for video chatting. (I tried to start a Google+ Hangout with it last night and it didn't work so well.)
For many, tablets are still novelty items – just that thing they use to browse Web sites and read news on the couch after work. For me, having a tablet is important, solely due to how I have integrated the one I currently own in my life. Not a day goes by when I don't use my tablet. I thought I would be fine without one for a couple days and quickly realized just how much I used the one I sold.
Tell me, folks. How do you use your tablets on a daily basis? Do you just use it casually? Or have you integrated it into your work life? Do you, like me, use it for more than one thing (i.e.: gaming, work, collaboration, etc.)? And new iPad owners, how do you find your new addition fitting into your life?