As the desktop computer hit the office world years ago, its impact was limited by its lack of portability. Work that was accomplished in the field had to be documented by hand, then transcribed into the computer. Each transfer of information took time and presented opportunities for mistakes. Something had to improve.
A couple decades ago, a revolution took place. The laptop computer arrived on the scene, and thousands of traveling workers thought they had seen the birth of the most innovative product they would ever use. They could gather and store data on a computer right in the field, then dock at the office to print or process it. The power of computers was growing.
Then, batteries started running out. Keyboards lost letters. Chunky tote bags started feeling heavier every day. And the process of traipsing everything out and logging in became so slow and inefficient that a clamoring began for a new solution.
Enter the tablet.
With a single device smaller than a magazine, a worker could accomplish almost any task in the field that could be done in the office on a machine that was shockingly inexpensive. And with the arrival of Wi-Fi and data transmission, there was no need to wait until day’s end to get the information to others who needed it. These slim machines may represent the ultimate crowning of computer technology as the king of efficiency.
Can anything knock this new leader from its throne? Potentially, yes. For workers who utilize tablets in the field, they must address certain limitations innate to the machines in order to keep them from falling victim to the boundaries that gathered the desktop and laptop before them.
Key to making tablets more portable has been keeping them light. This allows workers to carry the devices all day without getting tired or annoyed with the weight. Of course, the main sacrifice made for lighter weight is toughness, a trait one can hardly compromise when working on the go.
To keep your tablet’s relatively delicate nature from ruining your efficiency, protect it. Use a tempered glass screen protector and a protective case. This will guard against both types of impacts, those that damage the screen (and subsequently your ability to enter data) and those that damage the inner workings of the overall device.
Also, be cautious in monitoring temperature and humidity exposure; like all electronic devices, extremes in these areas are destructive. Be especially mindful of temperature during storage, making sure not to charge the tablet while it’s inside a storage bag or other insulated space. The added heat of incoming current can damage the device if it cannot effectively radiate away.
If you lost your laptop in 1995, you noticed it. The weight missing from your bag was immediately detectable, and you could quickly take action to find it.
Tablets are so light and small that they can potentially fall out or be stolen without being noticed. Make sure that your tablet is handled in a way that keeps it visible or in touch with your person at all times. Use and update your security codes to make sure thieves can’t quickly get into it, and encrypt any sensitive data you may be storing.
As you work through the day, you should periodically upload any proprietary or sensitive data into company servers or cloud storage. The less sensitive information that’s available on the machine itself, the lower your risk.
And speaking of storage, tablets actually carry more memory than many workers need. Their capacities far exceed what a desktop could hold 20 years ago. Extra memory is cheap, but the problem is that huge memory storage can actually impair your efficiency.
Think of your phone. Back when you had a model with less storage, you had no choice but to manage the photos very carefully. If you didn’t need it, you deleted it right away. Now your phone holds so many selfies and cute dog pics that you can be overwhelmed with hundreds of unneeded photos, leaving you stuck digging for the important ones.
The same is true with a tablet. If a day’s work isn’t quickly uploaded or deleted, it can begin filling the space until your tablet can become very hard to navigate.
As with any form of technology, tablets aren’t perfect. But understanding and addressing their limitations will increase their functionality and value for you. And unlike their laptop predecessors, tablets have a good chance at a permanent place at your side.