hp: ravenclaws are vulcans

Tablet advice wanted

Since I no longer have my school-issued netbook (long, boring story), I have decided to buy a tablet of some kind. The dilemma, of course, is whether to get an iPad or something else. I've been browsing Amazon and reading reviews on C-Net, but I am utterly baffled by the range of options. My top concerns are portability and word processing. I know that tablets are not widely recommending for word processing, but my old netbook spent a lot of time in my car or hotel room because it didn't fit comfortably in my bag with the battery inside and the adapter was pretty heavy. Even if a tablet is less than ideal for typing things, I think I'll get more use from it than the netbook just because I'll carry it with me. This is part of the iPad vs. something else dilemma. Android tablets apparently have something called Swype, which I played with today on a student's phone, and it was much easier than using a standard touchscreen keyboard. With an iPad, I would probably have to get (and consequently carry) a wireless keyboard (but maybe I would end up doing that for an android tablet too?). The Android tablets are also lighter weight, which would be nice, and the ones with 7-inch screens are pretty reasonably priced. I absolutely love the size of my Nook, so 7 inches seems ideal.

On the other hand, the iPad comes with such good reviews that it's hard not to buy it. Everyone I know who has one loves it passionately, and I only know one person who has another brand. He described it as "useful" but "not as cool as an iPad." I've never read a review that said an iPad frequently locked up or froze, and I know that their OS runs quickly and has the widest variety of apps. My friend let me play with his a few times, and I covet his news reader and the nifty little Pages file for formatting recipes. iPad's reputation is sterling, and I believe I would love it if I had it. I don't have quite the same confidence in other brands, especially given their mixed reviews on professional sites and Amazon. The iPad will cost $100-$150 more than the other devices I've looked at, and that's not an insignificant sum of money for me. On the other hand, I will use it frequently and I need it for my job, so I don't think price is as important as quality.

I am definitely going to a store to examine the offerings more closely, but I'd really like to have an idea what I'm looking for before I have a sales person breathing down my neck. I would love to hear your thoughts/personal experiences/advice about what features and specs I need to look for.
The most concrete advice I can give you:

The person who I call my boss is more or less totally completely computer illiterate. I do all her typing and transcribing, and I used to have to print out her email and all attachments and give her the paper copies. Since the iPad, she does most of her own email (though I still occasionally have to print out her attachments). The downside is that I don't think the iPad really has a good document manager (other than Documents to Go, which I haven't used extensively), though I believe you can use online blogging sites or Google Docs while on the iPad and connected to the internet.

I only have an iPhone. My sister and and another friend both have iPads; I know my sister loves hers and she teaches at a college level but I don't know that she does anything with docs. She's a PC convert (as far as tablets go). The other friend is a Mac Addict all the way and doesn't talk much about her iPad, so I don't know her feelings on the subject.

Probably none of this is useful. I wouldn't go with the Nook or the new Kindle, though; they're not going to have the app support and their ability to browse the web other than for certain tasks appears to be pretty limited.

You might also check out a chromebook, depending on your feeling about doing your computing in the cloud.
I ended up with the iPad. Getting something a little cheaper was certainly appealing, but word of mouth won in the end. I just couldn't get past the number of people who love their iPads vs. the complete absence of people who seem to own any other type of tablet.
Oh dear. I should never have shown my boyfriend that laser keyboard thing. I wonder how long till one appears in my house...
I don't have one yet, so I can't give you firsthand experience, but. One thing that impresses me about the iPad is how many people I know have them and use them for completely different things--everyone from knitting designers to actors to financial planners--and they're all equally happy with it. There are so many apps, it's almost infinitely customizable to what you need it to do. And Apple does have amazing customer service--they stand behind their stuff. They've earned my loyalty many times so I'll probably stick with them when I finally get around to buying a tablet.

I've saved a couple of articles that you might be interested in--they're not super-recent at this point but they're a start:

iPad Apps for Writers
My current favorite iPad app for writers

As far as features go, the iPad with the option to use a 3G (or is it 4G by now?) network is what I'd choose. I love that you don't have to take an ongoing data plan with it like you do with a phone--you can just hop on for a month and hop off again. It seems ideal for traveling and a lot more cost-effective than a smart phone if you don't need 3G service all the time.

(PS Since you need it for your job, won't it be tax-deductible? You should look into that!)

Edited at 2011-12-01 04:55 am (UTC)
Well, I did end up with the iPad. In the grand scheme of things, the price difference wasn't significant enough to justify purchasing something of inferior quality. I couldn't quite justify the extra $130 for 3G though, so I will just have to make do with wireless.

Thanks for the article links - I can't wait to check them out!