Many of you have asked about the practicality of switching from a PC to an Android tablet. We’ve said in the past that if you mainly use your computer for Internet, games and e-mail, then a tablet can be a great option for you.
But what about if you do need to do some word processing and other office-related duties. Could a tablet serve that purpose? Let’s look at some things you can do to make your tablet more productive.
First, I will say that you shouldn’t make that switch without giving it a tryout first. It could possibly be just too much of a change. Let’s get the drawbacks out of the way first:
1. New and different apps. Unless you purchase a Windows tablet, you won’t be able to run Microsoft Office. There is a mobile version of Office 365, but not a tablet-optimized version as of yet. However, many of the office suite apps available will allow you to open, read and edit Office documents.
2. Screen and keyboard size. It’s going to be smaller than you’re used to even if you purchase a 9 inch tablet. And it may take you sometime to get comfortable.
3. An Android tablet or an iPad is not a full Windows computer, you will see some limitations interacting with other systems. (some Windows tablets are not full Windows computers either. Watch for the RT after Windows. Windows RT is not the full version of Windows.)
Let’s look at what you’ll need to give this more productive tablet a try.
Unless you are someone who has no issues doing a lot of typing on a touchscreen, get a keyboard. You could purchase a keyboard case that plugs into your tablet or find a Bluetooth device. You’ll want to make sure that any keyboard you purchase is compatible with our tablet. Some tablets, like a Kindle HDX only work with a Bluetooth device. And don’t buy a Bluetooth keyboard unless your tablet is Bluetooth enabled. If you aren’t sure about Bluetooth, you can check the documentation that came with your tablet or go to “settings” and look for the Bluetooth option.
I will warn you that some tablets, like a first-gen Kindle Fire, have neither Bluetooth or a micro USB port capable of powering a tablet.
Your tablet most likely already has an e-mail client that came with Android. There are other e-mail clients available in the Google Play Store as well. A client will allow you to download e-mail from multiple accounts.
You could also choose an app designed for your particular provider such as Gmail or Outlook.com.
You are also going to want an Office Suite. You’ll find both free and paid options in the Google Play Store. Though some of the free options have limitations and you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version to access all the features.
Two free Office Suites that have great user reviews are Kingsoft Office and AndrOpen Office. Both have similar features to Microsoft Office.
Kingsoft supports 23 kinds of files including .doc, .docx, .txt, .xls, .pptx and .pdf. That means you should be able to read Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files. And it also supports cloud storage services like Google Drive and DropBox.
AndrOpen Office offers a word processor, spreadsheet program, drawing program, equation editor and a database program and works with files created in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Open Office and Photoshop. You can both import from and export to those programs.
I purchased OfficeSuite Pro for my Kindle and have been satisfied with it. But I like the idea of using these free apps as you test whether you like a tablet for office-type work.
As far as printing goes, you’ll find several apps that will allow you to print to wireless printers and it’s possible your brand of printer may have their own app for certain tablets. Since tablets are really designed for use with a cloud, printing can sometimes be the biggest drawback of using them office-type work. Sometimes the easiest solution is to save the file to the cloud and then print it from a PC if you have one available.
But with the right printer in place, it can be done.
If you have a tablet, consider giving one of these office suites a try.