When it comes to gadgets and technology, I’m a total geek. I love it. I want to play around with them and see what they’re capable of doing. However, I am also a classic overthinker.
My biggest fear when it comes to tech is blowing more money than I need to on something and having it go to waste. I’ve wasted too much money in my younger years, so I make sure that my gadgets follow two simple rules: 1) reasonably priced for what I’m getting and 2) appropriate specs for what I’m going to use it for.
Based on that analysis, I bought a cheap, knock-off, $90 Android tablet from Amazon (the item is suddenly no longer available on Amazon, but it was a D2Pad).
Here’s how I got there…
Toying around with my wife’s tablet
For Christmas last year, I bought my wife a similarly-priced Android tablet from Walmart. I knew that she just wanted to play a few light games, and otherwise use it for email and Facebook (and now, Pinterest, because we’re a Pinterest-obsessed household). These were things she was doing on her phone, but sometimes you want a larger screen, and her laptop has become old, heavy, and permanently tied to the wall outlet.
So I got her the tablet as a way to let her still be mobile without having to walk upstairs into the office, unplug her laptop, carry it down (with the cooling mat because it’s old and overheats like crazy), plug it in, and so on. This tablet is light, holds a charge for a few hours, and she can just grab it and curl up on the couch with it.
She hasn’t used it much lately because she says it was just running too slow. She could browse the web and the keyboard caused too many delays. So it sat in a drawer 85% of the time.
As the Google-branded tablets have been coming down in price, we starting kicking around the idea of buying one for the house so that we have one that runs at a good clip and is usable.
My business has grown, and so has my need to consume more content online, especially news and finance-related items. Top copywriter John Forde even talked this week in his e-newsletter about the fact that great ideas are everywhere, and you do need to consume a lot of content to get them.
Combined with my merge to Feedly, I’ve been awash in content that I’ve needed to pore through every day. And while it’s easy to do this on my desktop, that posed two problems: 1) I get caught up in it and wind up reading more than working, which is a problem, and 2) after work hours, I don’t want to sit in my office, so the content piles up.
I used my netbook for it, but I hate trackpads. So trying to navigate with the netbook is frustrating. I’d rather use that device for typing and creation-related activities.
I decided to grab my wife’s tablet and give it a run. After working with it for a bit, it indeed seemed slow. But several things were happening that were causing it to run slowly. Most importantly, the tablet was trying to update apps. When it does this, just like on our phones, it runs incredibly slow. So I needed to let the apps update before trying to use it.
Then, I discovered a trend: everything ran slow when the stock browser was being used. Like, unusably slow. Once I installed the Dolphin Browser, the tablet started to perk up.
Suddenly, it had new life. It became usable. Not just usable, but quite smooth! I couldn’t install Feedly, because the tablet was linked to my wife’s Google account, but I could install Pocket and just send articles there for later reading.
This worked very well – to a point.
When you open up your Feedly and have 100-200 items to go through every time, that extra step of sending it to Pocket was slowing me down. Plus, I couldn’t send articles to my Evernote for later reference, so they had to sit until I came back to my desktop.
Buying my own tablet
Knowing that 95% of the consumption on that device was going to be business-related, I was able to use some of my business expense money to purchase a D2Pad tablet off of Amazon Prime.
After an evening of using it, I couldn’t be happier.
It’s the perfect little transitional tool that gets me out of the office without squinting to read on my phone all the time. Plus, I am able to block all consumption on my desktop to focus on work, and force myself to only consume on the tablet.
Having all my sharing accounts, especially Evernote, is very beneficial as well.
An added bonus is having Dropbox on it (which came pre-installed). With Dropbox, I can send PDFs, comic books, and app files directly to my tablet just by putting them in my Dropbox folder. I love that, and it makes life really easy.
I don’t use it for everything I read, however. My long form articles and books are all read on my Kindle, which has an exponentially-better battery life and is easier on my eyes. And my creation needs (like writing and working on promotions) are still done on my netbook, where I have the keyboard.
My final take on tablets
I’ve long been anti-tablet. I thought they were over-hyped and way too many people were buying them.
My opinion, though, has more been tied to the people using them rather than the devices themselves.
To be honest, I can live without my tablet. But life is much more convenient with it. I didn’t go out of my way to grab one as soon as possible – I bought one with saved up money. Also, I analyzed my usage and bought a device appropriate for it.
Most people are buying crazy tablets that are far more powerful than they need – just like they do when they are buying Macs. Most people just need a glorified web browser. Why do you need a tablet with GPS on it when you have a phone that does that already? And I’ll say it a million times: you look stupid holding up your tablet to take pictures of stuff. Take your phone for that.
I didn’t need a multimedia powerhouse – I just needed something that would let me read blogs away from my desk. I read plenty of reviews of cheap Android tablets and this one got enough great reviews to let me take the plunge.
A tablet is a want, and it’s a consumption device for the vast majority of you. Temper your expectations and save your money.
I love my tablet, and I believe I paid an appropriate price for it. That’s all that matters to me.
What do you think? Are tablets a “need” in your house? Why?