Though the pool of apps appears endless so as to make you think that it’s all but an issue of you figuring out what else you need the tablet for, I find certain features rather limited. The file management system is surprisingly bulky and certain protections seem more like a hindrance. In that respect, a tablet does not replace a PC, and I still do most of my work in front of a large screen with nice ergonomic keyboard and mouse (the dream is to get a nice professional photo-screen as a second screen…). Wait, what? No laptops? Not in a while, no. The light weight and seemingly endless battery life make the tablet an ideal companion for trips – to campus or overseas.
Here are some of my main academic uses of a tablet (it’s a Samsung, in case you wondered) :
- Fast reading. It’s very convenient while commuting because it’s smaller than a laptop (and has a reading mode), and it’s nice as a second screen next to the desktop. Still, I do not use the tablet for slow reading with annotation because one cannot flip back and forth as efficiently as with a printout or book.
- Basic internet. The smartphone is nice but there’s a lot more you can do with a slightly larger screen. The most I've done using the tablet was browsing through tons of images on the BnF website and downloading some, but frankly, this was more out of a desire to stay in that nice warm armchair. A desktop is more efficient.
- Note-taking. Not so much in class but in archives and on trips. I got a tiny keyboard plus stylus, which make life easier; unfortunately, the keyboard is so small it does not fully accommodate non-Latin alphabets.
- Agenda. To be honest, I use a paper agenda but Andriy really likes a digital calendar with sub-tasks and all. I just haven’t had the time to try it out, which ultimately is the issue with new technology: it takes a little bit of time to internalize it.
- Camera. This is more of a smartphone use, but the tablet can work too. Of course, it’s nothing like the hardcore DSLR, but it does the job in many situations, e.g. when photographing slides at a public lecture. The tablet is also great for viewing images (think second screen).
What of the multiplication of storage? First of all, a tablet can be connected straight to a computer for file transfer. Easy enough. Then there’s the array of adapters for mircoSD to USB or USB to tablet. There’s also the cloud, which I personally distrust perhaps out of a misguided resistance to technology.
So, to summarize, I perceive a tablet as an oversized phone and a lightweight laptop. There are new uses to be discovered every day. Some of the stuff I haven’t yet explored or which I have not been able to solve to my liking: Is there an adapter which allows connecting tablet to projector? ✓ - Yes! / Is there a better app for printing (the one I use basically makes documents into images, which makes for a not-so-great print quality)? Are there apps which improve selecting and touchscreen-typing overall?