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How to Use Your Android Tablet at Work

By Paul Mah, CIO
January 06, 2014 01:06 PM ET

CIO - Tablets are all the rage these days. These popular devices power up in a split second and are perfect for reading, keeping up with social media and surfing the Internet. Yet bringing a tablet along with a laptop adds noticeably to your travelling burden and negates the sheer portability of the tablet in the first place.

Assuming you don't do computer-aided design or other intensive media-processing work, why not just leave the laptop at home and use a tablet? Below are some considerations if you're looking to deploy an Android tablet for more productive work.

Why an Android Tablet? Let Us Count the Ways

Why should companies considering tablets look at Android, given the popularity of Apples iPad? According to ABI Research, the number of Android tablets sold surpassed that of the iPad in the second quarter of 2013. Indeed, the substantial (and growing) market share of Android tablets is the reason developers today target both the iOS and Android platforms. This demolishes the barrier of using an Android tablet - plus it benefit consumers, as they are less likely to be "penalized" by finding apps unavailable for Android.

A closer look at the Samsung Note 8 and Google Nexus 7 tablets.

Review: What's the Better Android Tablet? Google Nexus vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3More: 5 Tablets That Reigned Supreme in 2013

Shipment volume aside, Android tablets have many other things going for them:

  • There are countless device configurations and price points - all of them less expensive than an iPad with comparable storage and radio.
  • While the iPad once held the throne in terms of display quality, thanks to its Retina displays, many Android tablets today offer Retina-like or even higher resolution.
  • Unlike iOS, the Android file system mirrors a traditional computing environment. As such, computer-literate users will have no problems managing on-board files either with an Android file manager or from a connected PC.
  • Finally, many Android tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, come with integrated micro SD card readers for cheap storage expansion. Meanwhile, support for USB On-the-Go lets users plug USB flash drives directly into an Android device. Some new tablets, such as Google Nexus 7, do come with micro-USB ports, but vendors such as ADATA are starting to sell USB Flash drive that plugs into micro-USB ports.

Then Again ... Tablet Storage: Do You Really Need an Expansion Slot?

Set Up Your Android Tablet for Work

The first step to setting up your tablet for work it to get your email, calendar and contacts properly synchronized. Fortunately, you need to do this only once, and it's a relatively straightforward process. This typically entails setting up accounts in the form of a Gmail account, LDAP or Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), as well as more traditional email systems such as POP and IMAP servers.

The situation for productivity documents is slightly more complex, mainly because there are so many options available. You can manually load work documents over a USB connection or, if the tablet is equipped with an SD card slot, copy them onto a SD memory card. Cloud storage services such as Dropbox or SugarSync can keep work documents synchronized as well.

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