The Tablet Buyer's Guide

Tablets are becoming ever more popular. Many offer fast processing power and user friendly touch screens to access data stored locally and in the cloud. They are lightweight, yet durable for warehouse conditions. They have become mainstream and are used by anyone looking for a blend between a smart phone and laptop. Personal users take advantage of features such as gaming, movies, photos, video phones, internet access, and e-books. Workgroups and professionals are learning to capture the paperless flexibility a tablet offers too.

Here are a few examples:
- Sales teams are using tablets for presentations and tracking leads
- Manufacturing and warehouse employees are replacing print-outs for tracking inventory and receiving shipments with QCR codes on a tablet
- Medical professionals track patient care with reduced infection rates
- Service professionals are able to invoice and get signatures on-site
- Executives are able to access sensitive corporate data across multiple applications while traveling

There are hundreds to choose from so understanding why you might want to buy one or what it can be used for can help promote your productivity and efficiency. The four main categories you will discover are: iPad (iOS), Android, Windows, and E-Book Readers. Each category has its advantages.

iPad (iOS) - For starters, the Apple iPad is the dominant tablet on the market with millions sold to date. It offers intuitive design, fast processing, 4g wireless, high quality camera, and high resolution screen. Apple has regulations in place to ensure App development meets their high quality standards. Many users experience the same workflow experience going from an iMac (Desktop), MacBook (Laptop), or iPad resulting in instant comfort with the new device.

Android - The Android is a Google operating system which is available from dozens of manufacturers such as Asus, Sony, Samsung, or Toshiba. Each device is different so determining what you will use it for will help determine screen size, processing power, camera resolution, battery life, etc. The Android offers flexibility and a wide range of applications because it’s an open source operating system.

Windows - Windows tablets have been around since the 90s and continue to evolve. They offer high performance and the familiarity of a laptop or desktop experience with Windows. For this reason they are popular because they can run the same applications as any Windows workstation. Windows tablets are typically larger and more expensive than the other tablet categories.

E-Book Readers - E-Readers such as the Kindle and Nook are becoming a hybrid of a tablet. Originally designed for simple reading, they have expanded to include web browsing, email, and video but have limited business application. They are inexpensive and great for entertainment purposes.

5 main factors to consider when you're buying a tablet:
1)  Do you really need a tablet?
2)  Which operating system do you want?
3)  Which apps will you need access to?
4)  What type of display and storage will you require?
5)  Will you need wireless service or will Wi-Fi be acceptable?

The tablet marketplace continues to improve and expand. The ergonomics of each device is different so be sure you get your hands on it before you decide to make a purchase. Educate yourself by talking to fellow professionals; this can provide insight on new ways to utilize this technology in your field. There are applications like FileMaker which offer real time cross platform access to your data. This means you can add, edit and delete information on a Mac, Windows workstation or Tablet, and iPad at the same time. For example, an office manager can create a work order on an iMac while the technician in the field instantly sees the update, completes the work, and the bookkeeper automatically processes an invoice on a Windows workstation. With the right device and training a tablet is a superb tool for improving your productivity and making your daily life simpler.

FM Work Orders on iPad

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