You find yourself on the road more often than not for your small business, securing new contracts, networking at trade shows, and scouting out new product lines. You stuck with your laptop for mobile computing for some time, but you see more tablets popping up around you. Pew Research reports that 34 percent of adults in the United States own a tablet, a number that’s doubled since its report in 2012. Tablets represent a strong niche on their own, but they’re also capable of replacing a laptop computer entirely for a small business owner.
Relying on a mobile broadband hotspot device, smartphone tethering, or the quality of hotel Wi-Fi is not the most efficient way to ensure data access when you’re away from the office. When you look at tablet options, like the Apple iPad Mini, wireless data service is included with your tablet. This gives you reliable 3G or 4G data without utilizing a smartphone or paying for an additional mobile broadband device.
Cloud-based applications bring your tablet the software and functionality it needs to work as your mobile battle station. If you already use cloud-based apps on your desktop and laptop computers, chances are you have a compatible app available for the tablet. If an app isn’t available, you still have the option to access cloud-based services through the website itself. Venture Beat reports that cloud-based apps are particularly useful for tablets because you can sync data between your mobile device and your home base network, you don’t lose your data if your tablet goes missing, and it also shoulders most of the processing power burden.
If you like the tablet concept but you’re not a big fan of typing on the touchscreen all the time, look into docking stations. PC World recommends a few Android tablet-compatible plug in keyboard docks that turn your tablet into a pseudo laptop, such as the Asus Transformer TF101 mobile docking station.
The iPad is at the top end of the tablet price range, going up to $900 range in certain configurations. However, many tablets like the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire are significantly cheaper than the majority of laptops on the market, outside of netbooks and Chromebooks. When you’re working with a limited IT budget and want your money to go as far as possible, a tablet comes out ahead of a business laptop in almost every situation, barring software.
Most laptops fall well short of tablet battery lives. Cnet found that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, Google Nexus 7, and Microsoft Surface 2 all have more than 10 hours of battery life. Few laptops compare with that, and the all day charge is critical for small business owners who don’t get a chance to stop and sit during their busy day.