Tablet talk – what to buy the busy professional
If you have ever had the misfortune to read court papers on your phone you will know what a complete nightmare it is as you scroll side to side and up and down to try and make any sense of what you are reading while you are under a deadline to return this document yesterday either approved or changed.
So a tablet is a good compromise by being light yet giving you a bigger screen for ease of reading and editing. Here are three popular ones to look at:
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- iPad by Apple
- Surface RT or Surface Pro from Microsoft. Noting that with an Surface RT you cannot install your own desktop programs
- Android tablet from various producers but running the Google operating system. The latest version being called “Kit Kat”. The key point to be aware with android tablets is that they vary so much in storage size and speed that some of the cheap ones are unlikely to realistically meet business needs as they will lack the size to download apps
The key point is that if you want to use a tablet for business you need to be able to get the documents in and out of your work computers back at the office making compatibility an important factor.
If you are running Windows in the office, which apps should you look to install on your tablet?
Opening Word and Excel documents on an iPad is a little challenging. Whilst Microsoft has released mobile versions of its Office suite for iPhone, the iPad still has not received the same treatment with only the OneNote app making its way to the platform. The full suite still seems a little way off so iPad users need to look to other solutions for now.
Most solutions out there like CloudOn and Onlive connects your iPad to a Windows PC in the cloud which will allow editing of Office Documents etc. To use this service you have to copy your documents to the cloud so you will have to reconcile this with the inherent privacy risks.
Splashtop is another alternative. This is different in that it allows you to control your own PC or Mac remotely from your iPad. It is very effective, seems secure and obviously gives you access to the Office programs you know and love on your PC.
LogMeIn ”Ignition” is a more expensive way of doing a similar thing. Some people prefer LogMeIn because it used to be more reliable at accessing a PC remotely through firewalls, however, recently Splashtop has improved in this regard so this option may compete for your attention.
If you are not allowed to have remote access to your documents and have to use them on your iPad you will probably need an App that can edit Office format documents. DocumentsToGo does a reasonable attempt at this but probably the best at preserving compatibility with word is Office2HD by ByteSquare.
Apple do have their own suite of document editing software called Pages but its compatibility with Word is patchy at best.
One other option is to use Google Docs and there is a useful GoDocs app that makes editing documents you have stored on Google Docs very easy.
If you need to take photos on the iPad the inbuilt apps will usually suffice but if you want to use the camera to scan in a document then you might want to try ReadIris, Scanner Pro or DocScan HD all of which will turn your iPad into a sophisticated scanning tool.
The Surface Pro is a full blown Windows PC and can run anything you could run on a Laptop including the full Office suite. One highlight is that the Surface Pro comes with a good pressure sensitive stylus that makes writing on the screen a delight. This means that this is a superb device for using Microsoft OneNote. OneNote is a rich note-taking app that has the ability to record audio at the same time as taking notes and usefully allows you to see where in the recording the notes were taken.
The Surface RT (or just Surface as Microsoft now likes to refer to it) runs on a different type of processor to normal desktops and laptops and therefore programs written for the desktop will not run on it. You can run what are known as Windows Store Apps which do include some useful tools such as Remote Desktop Clients and this might be useful if your IT department allows such access. There is one exception to the no desktop apps rule and that is Office. The Surface ships with a full blown Office suite and you can edit Word and Excel documents, prepare PowerPoint presentations and take notes to your heart’s content.
Also, the built in camera app is pretty good at taking photos and editing them too.
Whilst the Surface RT has been a bit behind other tablets in getting Apps they are starting to appear rapidly. For example the Splashtop client is now available allowing you to control your own desktop or laptop Windows machine remotely. There are also a number of scanning apps starting to appear including CamCard Professional that allows you to take a photo of a business card and scan it in.
Microsoft has launched Office Mobile for Android and its free but only if you have an Office 365 account with Office Application access. It is a very good application for editing documents from Office but there are also a number of non-Microsoft alternatives to edit Office documents on Android including ThinkFree Office (which isn’t free despite its name) and QuickOfficeHDPro. The latter is specifically designed for tablets so this does make it easier to use because it really takes advantage of having a bigger screen.
Another option is Office Suite Pro 7 which currently costs £4.83
Documentstogo currently costs £9.25. It has some reported issues in opening password protected files, but generally you can edit, view and create Word Excel and Powerpoint documents and view PDF files.
LogMeIn Ignition currently costs £20 and it enables you to control your computer remotely. This of course assumes you are connected to the internet and using a secure connection. It is a very useful app but be careful that you are on a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and not on an open free wifi because a fellow internet surfer, should they so choose, could view your whole PC so securing you connection is extremely important.
Splashtop Remote Desktop currently costs £3.23 and is a similar app allowing you to access your PC in the office including multimedia files
Mobile Doc Scanner-currently costs £2.99. If you are out of the office and you need to scan a document then this is ideal. Having completed the scan this will create a pdf of the document that you can share back at the office.
Mobile Print Premium– currently costs £8.20. It enables you to print documents from your phone or tablet directly without needing to use a Bluetooth enabled computer or wifi.
Android tablets are all very different in size and operating system and this can mean that not all apps are compatible with each model. This is a point to watch if you buy a tablet or phone for that matter that runs this operating system.
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