Help me pick a tablet.
December 28, 2019 3:36 AM   Subscribe

Hi Hivemind, I'm going to be giving a series of lectures in a few weeks, and they're going to involve me displaying and marking up a number of PDFs on a projector screen. I think a tablet would be ideal for this - any recommendations? Preferably something on the cheaper side. Snowflake details inside.

Snowflake details as follows:

Obviously some sort of iPad would be the obvious solution.

I have used Apple products in the past (iPhones, Macbook Airs, iPads), but at some point I got infuriated by the company's closed ecosystem model. For instance, why can't I just hook the damn phone up to my computer and transfer the files over via USB? I sold all my Apple gear and haven't ever thought about buying any since around 5 years ago.

That means that all the devices I own are Androids (a Galaxy S7 and a Galaxy S10 Note) or PCs (a Lenovo X260 and x240).

Still, I thought my iPad was the best of the Apple devices I owned. And, it might be nice to get access to the apps I bought way back when for PDF stuff (Goodreader comes to mind). The base level model seems to be around $350, which I think is a reasonable price. Granted, I would also have to buy the pen and an HDMI adapter.

So here's what I'm considering: a Microsoft Surface (I have experience using these), some sort of Android tablet, upgrading to a Lenovo X1 Tablet, and, obviously, some form of iPad.

I'm open to used or new.

Another factor to consider: I'd like something that could double as an additional screen for my X260 laptop, if possible.
posted by matkline to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: "Obviously the obvious solution"...ugh. Apologies in advance for the redundancy there.
posted by matkline at 3:54 AM on December 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you are using cloud storages, that's probably the most convenient way to transfer files between devices. iCloud obviously will work, but Microsoft's OneDrive works for me too. (I have a business Office 365 subscription.) Apple's Files app on the iPad will also work with Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box. Files app is something like Windows' File Explorer. Here's a guide from iMore.

To use the iPad as an additional screen for Windows, you might consider Duet Display (Actually, it seems Duet Display also work with Windows + Android too.)
posted by applesurf at 4:38 AM on December 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

It might be a bit over your budget, but I've been very happy with the Galaxy Tab S6 I just got for Christmas. The included S Pen allows for marking up screenshots, documents, etc. I previously had an older budget Samsung tablet, and it's a huge difference (nicer screen, runs faster, etc). My wife has been happy with her iPad Air but like you I refuse to go into the Apple walled garden for a whole host of reasons.

I haven't tried using it as a second screen, but a quick Google search shows there's a number of solutions out there.
posted by photo guy at 6:23 AM on December 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I feel the same way about Apple's ecosystem. BUT when it comes to certain things a tablet is king and the king of tablets is still the iPad. If all you want to do it markup pdfs, then just go for an iPad.

I have what is now quite an old iPad mini, maybe 2nd gen. I think it's around 5 years old. It does everything I need regarding PDF reading and marking up. I occasionally use it for other forms of reading and note taking (using Pocket and Evernote apps). Apart from that, I find no need for it that I can't accommodate better on a PC laptop or my Android phone. In the years since I bought it, I have move more and more into using my phone to do most every day tasks, and you still can't beat a Lenovo laptop imho for daily work and processor heavy tasks.

What else are you planning to us it for?

What I am suggesting is, that you don't need to get a new model, try some of the refurbished slightly older iPads on the official Apple site, or search on eBay for the model you want and 'refurbished'. Then you'll end up with a good model, battery still intact, and save yourself a lot of pennies.
posted by 0bvious at 9:35 AM on December 28, 2019

I got an iPad 9.7" specifically for the reading digital documents like PDFs. A friend gave one to me for free in a nonworking condition. One repair later and I've got a working tablet. Given I'm mostly Android/Windows/Linux I went Apple on this one because the user experience is so well done on the iPad. I'm using it for reading regularly, love the clarity of the display and plan to dump my blasted Kindle Paperwhite...what a horrible device for reading. Don't even try PDFs.
Some unexpected upsides are the ease of using photo apps to sort through images. An unexpected downside was the difficulty of getting the hardware lock on the device released from the previous owner. I guess I don't really own the device since only Apple can vouchsafe my ownership.
I have owned iPhones and prefer Android for my cell. iOS is a better tablet experience IMHO than Android. I'm now down the rabbit hole of making my iPad into a laptop replacement device and think it's pretty cool but have no intention of getting sucked into Apple's walled garden.
posted by diode at 9:58 AM on December 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

You may want a newer, low-end iPad (that is, one without the "Pro" or even "Air" moniker, though i don't know the price point of the newest Air) or an older Pro, because you'll want the Pencil support that isn't available in the older, non-Pro models. Writing on the screen is horrible without a Pro (source: I have an Air 2, my wife has a 10.5-inch Pro, and she can draw on her screen).
posted by lhauser at 8:07 PM on December 28, 2019

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