What's the best tech solution for me?
November 13, 2014 5:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the market to buy some tech that allows me to tweet and do other stuff at cafes and such, but what would be the best fit for me?

I'd like to be able to do the following (note: I do not own a cellphone):

-Read my timeline and also compose tweets and send them out.
-Take photos and tweet them immediately (e.g., for Untappd).

-Maybe do a bit a writing and have the option to be able to publish immediately online (social media stuff).
-Read MetaFilter, possibly write comments (although I doubt this would happen as I think I'd find outdoor locations too distracting to be able to compose a decent comment).
-Other misc. things: check Gmail, Facebook, RSS feed.

Obviously I'd need to hook up with wifi, but it seems like many places nowadays provide free Wifi (like my local library, every Starbucks there is, etc.)

So I'm guessing a tablet or a thin notebook?

Constraints / concerns:

-Must be budget-friendly. I'm not after brand-names like "Apple", I would much rather go with a cheaper alternative that meets my needs. I don't really know if I'll like using the item I end up purchasing and I'd rather not make a big investment, and then find I don't use the thing I've bought.

-Don't want a phone never want a phone.

- I have never used the thumb-tapping method to type; so one of my concerns is that I may dislike not having a keyboard. It strikes me as slow and awkward to have to peck out a sentence using an on-screen small keypad, which is what you would get with a pad device, correct?

- It has to fit into a 13 inch satchel (size guide here).

- My nightmare scenario is spending the money and not using the tool.

So, recommendations?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome to Shopping (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can use any tablet with a bluetooth keyboard. I do a lot of writing, commenting, emailing etc from my iPad in a keyboard-stand like this, but I also have a slightly nicer bluetooth keyboard and use a handy cheap little folding stand. To travel, the tablet goes facedown on the keys and is held (lightly - I use an elastic loop for extra security) by magnets.

You will be able to do all the things you want to do on either Android or Windows tablets. I think the Galaxy (Samsung) tablet is considered best-of-breed in Android tablets right now. (I might be wrong.)
posted by Lyn Never at 6:07 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For doing a bit of writing, your main concern is having a keyboard or not. Most people prefer to use a keyboard over a tablet for anything longer than a few sentences, and for typing speed - it sounds like you're no different, and hence you likely are looking for a notebook, or tablet with attached keyboard.

Secondly you say you want to be able to take photographs. I've yet to meet a laptop with a camera (and laptop webcams are not a substitute for this) so you probably want a tablet.

Hence, you're probably looking at a tablet with a detachable keyboard of some kind - after that the choices are endless and depend mainly on things like battery life and performance.
posted by Ashlyth at 6:08 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a Samsung Galaxy Note--the huge 12" one, but a smaller one would work just as well if you're comfortable with it--and a Logitech K810 bluetooth keyboard. It can take photos although it would be incredibly awkward, so smaller would be better there. Battery life is great, works great for any standard web stuff. I can type with the onscreen keyboard in a pinch but usually I use the real one. Even the 12" one fits in my (admittedly fairly large) handbag. The only thing I ever miss having a real computer for is... well, okay, a couple things. Tumblr, because it's really only usable with a bunch of extensions and stuff, for me. Web development stuff, I do some, but the screen's small and I miss Sublime Text. And sometimes there are websites that don't play nice with mobile browsers, but they're getting way less common. Metafilter works fine.

If you really don't want a smartphone and you find at some point that places you like going don't have wifi, you can get a 4g hotspot or something, but I usually only end up tethering because I like taking my tablet with me when I go out to dinner, and I've been doing that a lot lately because of family stress. It is portable enough compared to my old laptop that I find myself using it places I never would have used my laptop.

If you're not interested in doodling/handwriting, the Tab version is a bit cheaper. Samsung generally is very good on battery life. I use the screen-splitting less than I thought I would when I got it. The K810 is a really very nice keyboard if you don't need them too clicky, very comfortable for typing, I would recommend it or the more Apple-centric version regardless of your tablet choice. (And I do think you're looking at a tablet no matter what.)

The one thing I'd advise against is just getting the cheapest tablet you can find, because something with a really old version of Android and a bad processor is going to get frustrating fast, even for just random web browsing. Even if you end up buying online, go find a place to try one out first, make sure it feels good.
posted by Sequence at 6:42 PM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Any tablet will work - Android, Apple, or Windows. If you wish to use a keyboard, it needs to have Bluetooth.

Really, though, what you need to carefully consider and compare with cost, given your desires uses, is battery life, of the chosen tablet (and keyboard, if desired).

Battery life that is too-short is the most likely thing to "break" the enjoyment or usability of the tablet for you. (In theory, all places with wifi should have plenty of easily accessible outlets. In practice, most have few or none. Treasure those locations with a bounty, and keep them in business.

Assume you will receive, in actual use, less time than the specs state.

The trade-off of cheaper brands will usually going to be shorter battery life, along with slower processing. Check reviews, whether you go with mainstream brands or not. Often, you're better off with the cheapest - or even a used - tablet of the "good" ones than an off brand.

(Should I just go ahead now and admit to having made all of these mistakes myself? Seriously, my recommendation? The $160-170 you spend on a 7" Galaxy Tab 4 will make feel FAR better spent than $60 on whatever cheap tablet you happen across. I promise.)
posted by stormyteal at 7:21 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

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