A. William Benitez

The Computer As Shop

My desktop computer and my laptop are much more than just workstations to handle databases, spreadsheets, letters, contracts, etc. They are shops where books, ebooks, covers, blogs, web sites, and many more projects are created. While studio is probably a more appropriate word for the place where these creative tasks take place, shop strikes a more accurate cord with me after running my own woodworking shop for over 25 years. Perhaps office is a more appropriate choice for you.

My woodworking shop contained a large collection of useful hand and power tools used to build furniture and cabinets for which I was commissioned. Perhaps that’s why I view the large collection of software programs (applications) in my computer and laptop as the tools of my present work. I couldn’t function without the woodworking tools and in the same way I’m careful to select tools that serve me well for my publishing business.

Many of my associates find tablets and their related Apps invaluable but for me they fall short. After being surrounded by friends and associates with iPads and other brand tablets for the past couple of years, I took the plunge and purchased a tablet. I didn’t want to be closed to the potential and felt that it would be lightweight and might accommodate me doing my work almost anywhere thereby helping me be more productive.

After some research I settled on a small Dell tablet with Windows 7 Professional operating system that would accommodate my present software. I gave it a serious try for about six months and even after adding a case with a keyboard and carrying a mouse, it was simply too small to handle my work and made things more difficult. I sold it to a friend who isn’t a writer/publisher and seemed to have a passion for tablets. He was pleased with the bargain and is enjoying his new tablet.

Recently I took another stab at a tablet and this time was much more satisfied. I purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and while it still falls short on display size, it works great and has an excellent image that allows me to perform many of my tasks even when I travel. This year I will upgrade to the Surface Pro 3 with a larger display and that will replace my laptop.

In my work the display size is important. A giant monitor isn’t critical even though I have two 23 inch screens for my office workstation. I value my Surface Pro when I travel or if I want to work out on the deck or in the living room but am anxious to get the larger Surface Pro 3 with the 12 inch display. While I can easily live with a touchpad instead of a mouse, a good keyboard is essential and a touch screen keyboard that dominates half the display won’t do.

I deal with many different people who provide me content in various ways so until recently a DVD, preferably a writer, was an essential tool. While it’s true that you can connect one to a tablet, it’s just one more thing to carry and tends to defeat the portability aspect of a tablet. With my surface I can attach a DVD unit but now I mostly work with flash drives and the cloud.

Obviously, this is one point of view and I’m definitely not down on iPads or other tablets. From my conversation with many friends and associates it’s obvious they find them invaluable tools for many tasks in a personal or corporate office environment. Clearly, the small tablet was a poor investment for me. Since good tablets are not inexpensive, before buying one I suggest that you make certain it will handle your tasks. Here are a couple of useful hints.

If you are purchasing an iPad or Android based tablet, be sure that Apps will perform all your intended tasks. IPads and Android based tablets can be valuable to a business user but only if the Apps perform the needed functions.

If Apps won’t hack it and you need full blown software then consider a tablet with a full blown operating system like Windows 7 or 8 so you can use the needed applications or one of the many new tablets capable of using both Apps and full-blown applications.

Another important consideration is the size of the display. Many new tablets have excellent HD displays and may be quite adequate for you. However, no matter how sharp, certain tasks simply cannot be done well on a tiny display. Not much point in investing in a tablet of inadequate size for your work.

There are new tablets being created everyday so take the time to make certain you aren’t mislead by the glitz of a tablet that will wind up unused or sold at a bargain price because it doesn’t deliver on the work you need.

If you’re like me, you’ll want your next computer to be your shop, studio, or office, containing all the tools you need to do your job, whatever it happens to be. For me, most tablets fall short. You may have a different experience.

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