Wednesday, March 6, 2013

So You Want to Buy a Tablet...

I have been wanting to get a tablet for several months, now, but haven't had the where-with-all to do so. After our tax return, however, I have the money to get something.  But, do I really need it, or do I just want it?
Having a tablet would make some of the things I do a little more portable.  I use my iPhone for teaching and conducting all the time.  It provides me with tools for everything from setting a good beat to deciphering the notes of a piece of chant written in ancient notation (although I can do this without a tool to help, sometimes a check point is a good idea). I even have my prayer books, a bible and an apologetics app on this thing. And it's great.  I love my iPhone.  The problem is, when I share things with my choirs, the screen is too small to see.  I have a laptop, but it's a whopping 17" screen.  It's great because I can see it for miles, but not so great because it's not terribly portable.  That's why a tablet would be a huge help. Not only would it allow me to share information in a teaching situation,  it truly would allow me to work on things -blog posts, articles, liturgy plans, websites- where ever I am, pretty much seamlessly.  I like that idea, too.
The other component of this is that my husband, who does a great deal of volunteer work and needs to use the computer often, never gets a chance because I am always parked in front of it. It would be nice to have an alternative device that I could use for most things except desktop publishing and projects that require the use of more hardy software tools.
All that being said, could I adjust my work flow to be more respectful of my husband's technology needs?  Sure.  Could I do without another piece of equipment? Oh yes.  I mean, how much technology does one woman need? hiding it.  It's a want, not a need.
So, now I have to determine whether or not buying a tablet is a good investment and, if so, which tablet would be a good investment.
As we have been seeing recently, the whole tablet market is exploding. With the advent of Windows 8 (which is designed for use with touchscreens) more and more people will be moving to mobile devices and, like the desktop, the laptop will eventually become the "home/office" computer.  The chances are great that an opportunity to upgrade won't come along for me again soon. So, in terms of keeping pace, I think this is a good investment.  Now, which tablet?
I thought long and hard about going with an android platform. My youngest brother loves his Nexus 7 and told me that the Nexus 10 is probably the best tablet on the market. He likes the hardiness and the ease of use.  He likes the interface with Google (and he uses Google Drive to do most of his work).  He has nothing but great things to say about his device.   But he also pointed out that if I stayed with an iOS platform I would still have access to all the apps I already use without having to repurchase them.  Good point.  Since I am comfortable with iOS and I have a considerable investment in apps for my iPhone, not reinventing the wheel is a good idea.  I also do quite a bit of review work for on iOS apps.
Furthermore, I like the iPad (I am using my dad's to write this post, in fact, for test purposes, you know).  I have borrowed my dad's iPad to use for music.  I pulled the sheet music up on the screen, propped it up on the stand and played right from the screen.  It was awesome. The iPad is intuitive for me.  It's beautiful.  I just cannot get over how beautiful Apple products are - seriously - they are little, functional sculptures.  Their simplicity is elegant. My one complaint is best summed up by a friend of mine who quipped, "All Apple products are on a suicide mission - to get you to buy more Apple products." He is SO right.  Without a case or cover, the slipperiest substance known to man is the back of an iPhone, iPod or iPad.  Truly, that is my only complaint.
Dad has a bluetooth keyboard that works like a champ in tandem with his iPad and the screen isn't so tiny that I can't see it when it's propped up.  I don't think I need the keyboard, because I am used to the touch needed to run the touchscreen, having worked with iPod Touch and iPhones for the last two years, but it sure is nice.
I have been told that the iPad mini is much faster and has a better camera, but, since the big thing for me is using it in the classroom, this won't be a good investment for me if I can't use it to teach. And frankly, for that reason, the iPad mini is too small and didn't make the final cut.
OK, so I'm looking at a refurbished iPad 2 for $379, which is big enough to see from a few rows back in a classroom, but still small enough to carry around fairly unobtrusively.
Ridiculous? Probably.
Will it get used? You betcha!

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