Tablet thoughts

I have an Asus Transformer Pad Infinity (TF700T), which I got shortly after its release because I was curious about exploring tablets as a sketchnoting option but I was adamantly opposed to getting an Apple product. I should probably have waited for the reviews to come in, since the TF700T turned out to be a lemon (apparently the processor wasn’t quite up to the task of driving the display) and by the time I sat down and focused on getting past all the excuses and all the potential configuration options for speeding things up, the return window had passed. I suppose I could try to sell it, but it doesn’t seem right to inflict the same problem on someone else.

Anyway, I’ve reflashed it to CROMBi, which the Internet says is supposed to be much better. While I’m waiting for everything to be set up again, I want to think about how a tablet could fit into my life and make things better. That way, I can decide if it’s worth spending the time fixing this up, spending the money to upgrade to a newer tablet, or leaving well enough alone.

What do other people use their tablets for, and what other uses might I want to explore?

  • Business
    • Reading could be handy, especially as a second screen for technical references.
    • Lightweight device for writing in cafes? My laptop isn’t that heavy, but I could give it a try.
    • Browsing? Maybe, if I can get performance up.
    • E-mail? My phone is more convenient.
    • Reviewing my sketches? Maybe, if I can fix the lag issue.
    • Drawing on this tablet? Frustrating because of the lag.
  • Personal
    • Cooking? It might be handy to have large copies of recipes and maybe even a digital shopping list.
    • Browsing? The attentional separation of doing casual browsing on a separate device might be good for training my mind.
    • Learning? Flashcards, perhaps?
    • Watching stuff? I rarely watch movies, and when I do, I watch them on the TV so I can hang out on the sofa with W-.
    • Gaming? That’s popular.
    • Some kind of home console, with weather, calendar, and a shopping list? Maybe, but it seems like overkill.

Ah, tech!

  • disqus_K29vzian2O

    Louise used the iPad for drawing Panda and Polar Bear and it went so well she got a Cintiq! Otherwise mostly gaming at the moment.

    • Yay! =D The Cintiq is great, especially once you’ve set up buttons and stuff. =)

  • Douglas G Pratt

    What is the source of your opposition to Apple?

    • Oh, there were fiddly bits about Mac OS X that I didn’t like, and they don’t believe in full tablet PCs with pens, so I’m more of a Lenovo person that way. I also like Android’s app philosophy (lots of things that can talk to each other) more than Apple’s sandboxed apps (although they’re changing that slowly, yay). Theoretically, I plan to write my own little tools for Android someday. I’m not a big music fan, so iTunes doesn’t have any particular appeal for me. So I don’t really get any of the ecosystem benefits of Apple. =)

      • ArturMaciag

        I think you should check some iPad apps – like Pythonista, Lispnik, Paper by FiftyThree, Editorial, maybe Codea. They can easily change your mind :)

  • Sacha, I returned a refurb TF201 to Asus four times because the screen would stop responding, before giving up. I moved to a Nexus 10, and have had zero problems since. The TF201 was a big letdown after enjoying a TF101 for some time (and then physically damaging it when I dropped it).

    I would be curious if you find a big improvement by changing the foundational software. I haven’t even plugged in the TF201 in months, because I wasted so much time with it before, that I don’t want to add more unproductive time on top of what I’ve already invested. If you see success, I might try something similar.

    • Mike Wilson

      I had that PRECISE issue with the TF201. I absolutely adore Asus as a hardware manufacturer. BUT I feel pretty badly burned by their tablets.

  • Raj Shekhar

    A month back, I picked up the “oneplus one” phone. With its large screen, large memory and a 64 G storage, I have not had to use my tablet since then. Having one device means I di not have to worry about syncing apps , music and ebooks across multiple devices

  • Mike Wilson

    Tablets (and, IMNSHO, touch screen devices in general) are great Content Consumption Devices, and they’re just not so good for a hell of a lot else. I keep “wanting to like” them, but don’t. I still want a keyboard and a (physical) mouse to manipulate data.

    Though I have to say, my friend’s kids do some really neat stuff with video manipulation and effects on their iPad. They’re just being goofy in front of a camera and splicing video together. But still, it’s a little creepy to watch them work.

    I love my kindle. But every other tablet I’ve ever bought is sitting in a box, unused.

    • It’s great that they’re playing with that! =) That’s awesome.

  • Bruce Fielding

    I’ve been using a tablet of one kind or another for a couple years and having one has become an integral part of my workflow. Why? (1) I can take it places where my laptop would be out of place and/or where even an Air would be bulkier than I want. This also makes a tablet the first tech tool I touch in the morning and the last at night. (2) There are enough apps available for me to be truly productive. With my current Nexus 7, I use a Swype keyboard to input text at speeds approaching what I can do on a keyboard. If I need a more technically oriented keyboard, I switch to the Touchqode or Hacker’s keyboard. The Jota+ text editor has a basic syntax file for org mode, and there are some solid markdown editors (I like MINUTES because it allows associating metadata with drafts). Reading on it is a joy (Kindle, Google reader, los of others), and the Dolphin Web browser has extensions for EverNote, Pocket, Web-to-POF, etc. I use the Nexus more for research, note collecting, Twitter, and for blog and article drafts than either my desktop or laptop. It’s that easy for me to use. Oh…and I read Sacha’s blog on it!

    • Nice to know! Yeah, I do find it to be an okay way to write, too. It still doesn’t feel as powerful as either Org Mode in Emacs (outlines, yay!) or the WordPress web interface (which makes it easy to add images), but it’s okay. Besies, my bottleneck when writing isn’t typing speed, it’s my brain… =)

  • Hmm, I didn’t know that Jota+ now had Org syntax.

    I’ve only come back to tablet use recently. I wet my first in a rice field and my son broke the other.

    Have you looked at the image content types in TiddlyWiki 5 for doodling? If you pick an image format as a content type you get a canvas to draw on. You can resize it but no toolbar out of the box.

    I am only scatching the surface and don’t know JavaScript yet I wonder if they can have plugins for markdown who not something like http://intridea.github.io/sketch.js/ ? I’d be happy with an undo button and a few more colours but wouldn’t it be cool to have the transclusion, wikitext and gallery features that are all wrapped in a single HTML file mixed with doodles?

    ! Some app advantages
    * I have noticed the Ankidroid tablet UI has room for a deck chart
    * Emacs is usable with a bluetootch keyboard and slick vim touch doesn’t need one
    * ezPDF is a great PDF annotation tool with TTS, and a night mode. Only having export options to XFDF and FDF grinds my gears but with the CUPs add-on app you can slice PDF sections and drag and drop your own PDFs from the slices
    * more space for OpenStreetMaps
    * more space for TagSpaces an open source personal data manager that helps you organize files with tags on every platform.
    * more space for WordPress app
    * I would be interested to read the details if you end up using the tablet in a dual monitor config. KDE Connect shares a clipboard but it’s not the Synergy level, nor have I tried the Android port alpha.
    * That Stylus Write Labs app I mentioned awhile back runs on Android as well and HTML/SVG there’s no worries
    * Also Papyrus is pretty slick for a stylus
    * Evernote Handwriting notes is another option
    * F-Droid has the Markers app that doesn’t need a stylus which could be of intrerest on a custom ROM.

    ! Reading on the go
    * It’s nice to have more screen space to read while walking and a tablet fits nicely along with lots of stuff in a shoulder bag like my UTG Multi-functional Tactical Messenger Bag from Amazon.