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The ultimate guide to making a tablet your main computer

Done with heavy hardware? With these apps, peripherals, and cloud services, you can leave that notebook behind for good.

By Rick Broida, PC World
November 01, 2013 01:33 PM ET

PC World - The "laptop killer" of tablets has yet to emerge, but you can still configure a slate that puts your laptop out to pasture. With the tablet's lighter weight, longer battery life, and near-instant boot-up, the building blocks of a productivity engine are already there.

[FIRST LOOK: iPad Air and more]

When it comes to getting things done, Microsoft's Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets have one big advantage over the iOS and Android competition: namely, the Office productivity suite, which comes free with every Surface 2 and is, of course, available for the Surface Pro 2 as well. Both also have roomy (compared with other tablets) 10.6-inch displays. The Surface Pro 2, with its full Windows OS and ability to run desktop applications, just needs aA Touch or Type Cover toA make a mighty fine hybrid.

But for the vast majority of us who have iOS and Android tablets rather than Surface slates, other productivity options are available. With the right apps and accessories, plus a few changes in how you work, your trusty tablet just might replace a conventional laptop.

Pick your tablet

If you don't already own one, two great choices are Apple's iPad and Google's Nexus 10. The latter has a slightly larger screen, built-in NFC (near-field communication), and a lower starting price: $399 for the 16GB model, or $499 for 32GB.

The iPad starts at $499 with 16GB of storage. But the brand-new iPad Air weighs less (just 1 pound to the Nexus 10's 1.3 pounds), and all models offer optional 4G LTE, a huge perk for frequent travelers and a feature you don't see on most laptops. (Given that Google's recently updated Nexus 7 offers a 4G option, it's a good bet that the forthcoming update to the Nexus 10 will do so as well.)

One thing to acknowledge from the outset: Working on a tablet does involve a few compromises, most notably a smaller screen. An iPad gives you just 9.7 inches of work area, while Google's Nexus 10 affords only a hair more (10 inches). That's considerably less space than you get from even a 13.3-inch laptop, something to consider if you work with a lot of spreadsheets or just need to accommodate less-than-stellar eyesight.

On the flip side, both the iPad and the Nexus offer sky-high screen resolution: 2048 by 1536 pixels on the iPad 3 and later, and 2560 by 1600 pixels on the Nexus 10. You're not losing the capability for ultra-detailed work, you're merely doing it in a smaller area.

Your choice of tablet will also dictate which accessories you can get, and that's an important consideration. For example, the Nexus 10 supports USB On-The-Go (aka USB OTG), which allows you to connect a wired keyboard or mouse or even a flash drive. The mouse in particular gives the Nexus 10 a huge advantage over the iPad, as it makes the tablet seem significantly more laptop-like. In word processing and spreadsheet apps in particular, it greatly eases the transition.

On the other hand, third-party accessories abound for the iPad, most notably cases and keyboards. Speaking of which...

Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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