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Ipad, Laptop or Tablet PC

December 10, 2012

I started to write this review several months ago. However, right now, because of all the pending Windows 8 pro devices, this commentary probably applies now. I am currently using the new Microsoft Surface (RT tablet) and I will write a review very soon. This is a blog that was written over a year ago, but never published.

I always love it when technology can make my life easier. I have several computers. Multiple laptops. I have had both Microsoft and Apple products going back to the Apple IIe and I guess my first Microsoft product was a Packard Bell 486SX (or something like that). I had an Android phone and I still own an iPhone and one of the new Windows Phone 7/8 devices. However, most recently I picked up an Asus EEE Slate (EP121). This is a Windows 7 slate tablet with an i5 processor, 4GB of memory and a 64GB SSD drive. It also has a 12.1 inch capacitive touch screen and a Wacom Digitizer for a real handwriting capabilities. Simply put, this is a beast. It weighs in at 2.5 pounds, a half pound lighter than my Macbook Air.

For starters, I want to be very clear that the device is not perfect (no technology ever is). The most significant problem is battery life. I have run multiple tests with the device and streaming videos on my home wireless network I can run on a single charge for almost exactly 3 hours. On the surface, I would say that is insufficient. At the same time, with real world experience I find that I am rarely away from a power outlet for more than 3 hours.

To be sure that battery life isn’t a problem, I purchased an Energizer 18000XP. For those of you who don’t know, it’s an external power supply that can charge just about any device (laptops, phones, MP3 players) and as it turns out it works beautifully with the Asus Slate. Here’s how it works, I use the slate for about 2.5 hours (assuming I am streaming movies) and I will get notified that I am down to 20% battery life. So, I pull out the 18000xp and plug it into the slate. While I continue to use the slate over the next couple hours it will be completely recharged and can run for another 2.5 hours (streaming movies). So, in the absolute worst scenario I will get to use the slate away from a power outlet for 7-8 hours.

For the past several weeks, I have found that I don’t really sit around playing movies at work. In a normal days’ work, the slate will actually last 5-6 hours with normal use taking notes, checking email, running a Citrix connection and surfing the web. I can go through an entire day or very close to it without ever needing to re-charge the tablet. At the same time, I find that while I may go out for 3-5 hours, I generally get back to my desk during that time where a power outlet is very convenient.

When I return to my desk, the Slate becomes even better. I place it on the stand and plug in an HDMI connection to a 23 inch monitor. I already have a bluetooth mouse and keyboard in palce so just like that, the tablet becomes my desktop running a dual monitor. So, just like that my slate transforms into a desktop with a 23 inch screen. (I forgot to mention the slate comes with a very nice bluetooth keyboard).

When I am at home, I have a small stand sitting right next to my favorite perching place. I can use it for either the iPad or the slate. I generally plug in the Energizer 18000 to let it charge and if I set down the iPad or the Slate, I connect the appropriate adapter and both the Energizer and the tablet charge (I often connect my phone at the same time).

Sitting on the couch, I do find that the slate is a little too heavy just to sit there olding in one hand. However, the experience surfing the web is superior with the 12.1 inch screen along with the ability to play anything on any website (like a normal computer).

The advantages for the iPad are pretty simple. It’s lighter and it has a longer battery life so I don’t have to worry about the extral battery pack. However, make no mistake, the iPad is not a laptop or desktop computer replacement. It is limited in far too many ways. It can’t multi task. I can’t run programs side-by-side. I can’t run the real version of products like Office or picture editors, etc. There are several applications that try to make notetaking possible, but at the end of the day the capacitive screen with no digitizer causes handwriting to be approximately the same as writing in crayon. I can’t connect to an external monitor, nor can I easily browse a network to access shared files, etc. Again, it’s a nice option for sitting on the couch browsing, reading or playing games. At the end of the day, this is a device that is a good companion for my laptop, but it’s in no way a laptop/desktop computer replacement.

On the other hand, the slate has some real advantages also. It’s faster, fully capable of surfing the web (including flash). It can run all of the full desktop applications and it’s very easy to take along as a laptop replacement (it’s lighter and faster than my Macbook air). Finally, with a few accessories, the tablet does a great job replacing both my laptop and my desktop.

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From → Technology

5 Comments
  1. Very soon your mobile will do all that. I give it a year. Some Android phones are arguably laptop replacements already. And I say that as an Apple user.

  2. This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks!

  3. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  4. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the rest of the website is very good.

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