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Thursday, November 6th, 2014 technology  research  practice

A Practice Tip

  • Practice

ASUS-T100TA

Today’s post is not so much a “tip” as a confession.

For it’s true – I have been two-timing on my iPad with a Windows tablet. Because for all its virtues, and there are many,  I’ve still had more than the occasional sinking feeling that my iPad just isn’t enough…

I could fill endless column inches discussing everything the iPad does wonderfully. And I have. But we already know all about the iPad’s many virtues, right?

Unfortunately though, there are a few things the beloved iPad simply doesn’t do very well.

“Like what?” I hear you saying.

Like:

  • Dealing with Microsoft Word forms and tables and maintaining formatting on Word documents generally;
  • Gaining remote access to my office computer via LogMeIn Ignition;
  • Navigating the Word Press and Blogger interfaces that I use to compose my posts on SlawTips and Wise Law Blog;
  • Viewing Flash videos;
  • Transferring data from one computer to another, since there is no USB receptacle on Apple mobile devices.

Now, this is not a long list of fatal flaws, and there indeed are makeshift ways on the iPad to fudge and work-around almost of these obstacles.

Most, but not all of them.

I do approximately 80% of my professional work on my iPhone and my iPad. I barely touch my desktop computer at my office any more, preferring instead to compose most of my documents on my iPhone using the Siri dictation function – even when I am sitting at my desk.

When I am working from home or away, however, it gets complicated. I need access to my office computer and my files, and I greatly prefer LogMeIn via the Windows interface (as opposed to the clunky LogMeIn Ignition mobile app) to get onto my desktop.

If I have a phone call to make from home, and I need to review some files at my office to prepare, the iPad just doesn’t cut it. Perhaps this is more of an indictment of LogMeIn Ignition than the iPad itself, but if the “app is crap,” the iPad isn’t going to save it by miraculously creating functionality that just isn’t there.

Similarly, even as I draft this Tips post using Siri on my iPhone, it is clear I am going to have to get onto a Windows computer at some point to post it, add photos or media, and perfect the formatting.

Again, it may not be the iPad’s fault, but it just doesn’t work very well on WordPress. In fact, I have rarely been able to complete a full blog post on my iPad alone, without final touch-ups via a Windows computer.

So lately, I’d been using an old Windows netbook beside my iPad, in tandem, to achieve maximum efficiency. Everything that the iPad does well, I continued to do on my iPad. But I sure was glad to have a Windows machine nearby, just for those occasional moments where the Apple tablet fell short.

My five year-old netbook, however, suffers from sluggish speed and a seriously malfunctioning keyboard, the ultimate result of which is it’s missing a few of the letters I need for most of my passwords. That is also easy enough to fudge by cutting and pasting the occasional “a” and “b,” but hardly trend-setting in terms of optimal use of the latest and greatest technologies.

Which is where my new Windows computer, an ASUS Transformer T100TA (purchased earlier this week via Costco online) comes in.

It’s a “convertible” machine, meaning the screen snaps in and out of a keyboard that doubles as a dock, so that this computer functions equally well as a Windows tablet and as an upgraded netbook computer.

The tablet portion is a bit wider and not quite as tall as an iPad, and feels like it weighs a bit less. To this layperson’s eye, the screen brightness and resolution appear reasonably comparable to the iPad display. Like the iPad, the ASUS tablet is a bit too heavy to hold comfortably in your hand for too long. But it functions quite nicely.

The real conundrum is wrapping my brain around using the Windows desktop interface and software with a touchscreen. It just doesn’t seem natural. At least not yet, three days into my proud ownership. That may well yet change.

Nonetheless, my presumably typical knee-jerk, early resistance explains much about the split personality of the Windows 8 universe, one-half iPad wannabe, and one-half reliable and familiar, old Windows desktop.

And therein lies the challenge for Microsoft and Windows in the tablet universe.

The Metro interface, the gateway to the Windows 8 apps universe, simply isn’t as immediately enticing as the iPad interface, despite the many Windows 8 apps that work extremely well and elegantly in this strange new Microsoft world.

The sole, remaining point of superiority of the Windows OS is that so much of its legacy software – and the functionality thereof – hasn’t yet been replicated effectively for the iPad. So if you want to use the software, you have to use Windows.

And while that software remains exclusively available via Windows, most legacy software isn’t particularly touch-friendly or optimized for viewing and manipulation on the smaller Windows tablet surface.

At least not at first try.

So while I will continue experimenting, I suspect I will continue to use my iPad for just about everything, except for the few things it does poorly that I need to do on Windows.

If this proves to be the case, my Windows tablet might have a sad future of remaining firmly docked on its keyboard, to be summoned only for traditional Windows uses, except for those occasional moments when I want to wow my friends by showing them how it really is a tablet, too, after all.

So to my beloved iPad, I haven’t really left you (and perhaps I never will), but I confess that I might still be tempted to stray – occasionally – just to get my job done.

And so, I will finish dictating this post on my iPhone. I will pick it up from the cloud on my Windows tablet via iCloud.com, and cut and paste it to WordPress to create a SlawTips post.

As well, I’ve taken a couple of pictures on my iPhone of my new Windows computer, and I’ll email them to myself, pick them up on my Windows computer, merge them into one composite photo using a Windows photo editing program, Paint.net, and complete this week’s post, which was a much longer one than expected, at WordPress.

If nothing else, I hope I’ve demonstrated that while the Apple universe is almost perfect, I may still need the occasional blast from the new Windows 8 past to get the job done.

(Hopefully, you’ll agree with me that the sum of these parts at least justifies the many technologies used to create it).

Garry J. Wise, Toronto (@wiselaw on Twitter)

4 comments on Two-Timing on My iPad With a Windows Tablet

  1. Mark says:

    Quick word on the iPad flaws,Don’t use Word use Pages much better, you don’t need USB use iCloud,Dropbox or Evernote. As to LogmeIn that is their App issue not iPads.Not sure on the WordPress issue will have to look into that.

  2. Brian Peterson says:

    I’m here to tell you, the Windows 8 tablet is far inferior to the iPad, and it does not get a whole lot better with time. You are where I was about 4 months ago. I needed a Windows machine to do a few things my iPad was not good at. (For me, it was Citrix.) So I bought the Asus Transformer. The main problem with it is that I want it to be an iPad. Fast, responsive, instant on, bright, easy to use touch with… But it just isn’t. Most Windows apps were not made for a touch interface. Buttons are way too small. Windows 8 is not easy to use without a mouse. Even something as simple as surfing the web with IE is unpleasant because of the small icons, tabs scroll bars and buttons. The screen size is just too small for a windows machine, regardless of whether you use it with the keyboard or not. You can hook a mouse to it, which is great. But it just does not work very well. It sits on my desk and I use it only when absolutely necessary. Maybe your experience will be better.

  3. Garry

    I have been an advocate of the Windows Surface tablets including the RT for a long time for all of the reasons you have mentioned in your post.

    I no longer use my iPad. Having got used to the Metro interface, I much prefer it. I now find the iOS very frustrating to use.

    Jeffrey

  4. Garry, I love your post. I look forward to cheating on my iPad with a Surface in the (crossing fingers) near future.

    It is encouraging to know that using Siri for dictation is workable. I like the Dragon app as well.

    Where we differ in perspective is the usefulness of the desktop. Personally, I can’t imagine a day when I would give up the productivity supplied by multiple screens and a full size, button clacking keyboard. While I feel reasonably productive dictating on mobile and even typing on my iPad screen keyboard (unlike many, I don’t mind the natural functionality) I know that I can create work product more effectively on my desktop.

    I guess it is the copy paste functions of snipping bits of cases or legislation into documents. It is also quite likely that it is the functions of Excel, which I use extensively, that can not be duplicated on a tablet. Yet.

    Great post.

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