Finding that Device Sweet Spot

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 12:33 PM

Desktops, laptops, ultra portables, tablets, mini tablets, phones… with so many choices out there it’s hard to find your device sweet spot. Over the years I’ve tried just about everything and I think I’m finally coming to the conclusion of what works best for me. The other day I wrote a blog post that gave the impression to many from what I saw on Twitter that I was dismissing the Surface RT. That’s not the case at all & it was quite frustrating seeing what I said be misinterpreted. The more I thought about it, I now realize I did a poor job of putting my message across. So let’s try this a different way…

The tablet looked like a killer device when it first came out back when the first iPad came out. Yes, there were other options prior to this, but they weren’t great tablet options (I think back to my days of the Toshiba Tecra M4… ugh!). I first tried the iPad, which was great but I was frustrated with the lack of doing real work on it… the lack of a keyboard drove me crazy. The keyboard add-ons for iPads even today make the device thick, which defeats a major aspect of the tablet. So when I saw the Surface, I thought “that’s perfect for me!” After using it for a while, as my afore mentioned post covered, I came to another conclusion (and this is what really disappointed me about the Surface): what I think I really need is ultraportable laptop. I like to sit down and take notes or work without a tabletop… like on the couch, in a coffee shop, at a conference, etc. That just isn’t feasible with the Surface because the kickstand isn’t great on your lap nor is the touch/type keyboard… things wobble around too much and fall over.

But notice what I’m saying… this isn’t a fault of the Surface… *in my opinion* (and that’s the key point here), a tablet is ideal for content consumption. I needs to be blazing fast, surf the web, watch movies, play games, read articles, etc. When I want to work, I don’t want a tablet… if I can, I’d like to work on an ultraportable laptop with a long battery life and full keyboard.

What I was saying in my last post about the Surface RT is that it suffered from performance issues. Even some of the core native apps like the News or Finance app would frequently take 9-12 seconds to load. Maybe it was just me, but I heard from many others who had the same experience (and no, it isn’t a drive space issue… I have a 64GB with 20GB+ free). Right now I’m on the fence about selling my Surface RT… after the recent price cuts, a used one now won’t go for much to make it worth the while to part with it (for the instances where I’m doing Windows 8 app dev).

I’ve since picked up a ultraportable laptop that I’m very happy with. The real test will be to see how much I like it after a few months and a few business trips and conferences, but in my non-scientific “after one week” test, I’m very pleased. I’ll do a review of it in a future post in the next few days.

I firmly believe that everyone’s sweet spot is unique to your work. I need a powerful laptop for doing SharePoint development meaning I need to host multiple virtual machines. I can’t rely on a cloud solution as I also teach & present and we all know how reliable, ubiquitous and fast conference internet is. So what’s my sweet spot? Here’s my current thinking for me: I need a powerful laptop for my production work, teaching and presenting… today that’s a Lenovo ThinkPad w520. Of course, the stock smartphone (pick your poison… I switched over to an Apple iPhone 5 a few months ago and have been quite happy). I’m also an avid reader and nothing tops the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

What about the tablet & ultraportable laptop? I’m still undecided on the tablet. But for the ultraportable laptop, I’m loving the Apple MacBook Air 11"!

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