What the Media Has Told You About Computing is All Wrong (Part 2 of 3)

Jun 25, 2015

switch 11A couple of days ago, we talked a bit about how the conversation around computing has become contaminated by the rush to make sales numbers or skew other metrics. In some cases, we have been painted a false picture of what options are out there for a user to get things done on a daily basis. Part One of this series discussed why tablets can be and are productivity tools. Tonight, we’ll explore what other options are out there for work, or just in-home productivity, that the media has told you to ignore.

They [the media] also told you for years that devices that use a stylus and large-display phones were also poor choices [for productivity]. Many of them do this while concurrently touting the value of a Moleskin or spiral binding notebook. You know what is about the size of a Moleskin notebook? A Samsung Galaxy Note with an active digitizer display, or a 7 inch tablet that can use a stylus. Of course Windows Tablet PCs were also always declared a failure, despite their ability to quickly write inked notes in portrait mode with their active styli.

I’ve spent a lot of time, I mean a lot of time, working on comparatively small devices, that were highly portable, and most of them accepting written input. Active digitizers have worked best, but iOS apps that offer palm-rejection and use capacitive stylus input have also been perfect devices at work. Spreadsheet work can be a bit sketchy if you need spreadsheet muscle and you are not using a full version of Excel, but the availability of that on mobile platforms is propagating. There have been a lot of large mobile devices, and small x86-64, devices that have been ridden out of existence by journalists who do not know what they are talking about when they recommend that you “just use a laptop” ipad with stylusor claim that tablets are only good for media consumption, or that stylus-centric devices cannot fully replace their pen and paper. There is little that makes me more unproductive than scanning through a paper notebook full of notes scrawled in a single color of ink. Having a set of notes written in multiple colors of digital ink and being able to tag those notes, make hyperlinks to them, and other capabilities, has always proven more powerful for me.

Netbooks were fine for a lot of tasks, and had such a small footprint that they basically cost you zero encumbrance to carry them. Chromebooks do a lot and, when paired with the right apps, can do a lot of what you might need, even without a network connection. Tablets can do much of what you need a “full laptop” for and really have few shortcomings for the average office worker.

Let’s get back together in a couple of days to wrap up this treatise, shall we? We’ll talk about setting your own requirements, deciding which of those are the most valuable, and steering yourself clear of those who might cause you self-doubt in your technology choices. Should be a good time!