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Why you don't need a computer anymore

Friday, June 13, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

There's an interesting trend in the digital world that has computer-makers in a frenzy. People aren't buying new computers.

I'm not just talking about people hanging on to their machines for seven years or so. Even people who are in the market for a new computer aren't buying computers.

Instead, they're buying tablets. I know several people who have made the switch and they're perfectly happy. A tablet is easier to use, more secure, more portable and — sometimes — less expensive. Of course, if you're used to a typical computer, switching to a tablet-only lifestyle can be a bit bumpy. Here are some things you need to know about hardware and apps to smooth your transition.

Hardware

If you're used to whipping up detailed emails, long Facebook posts or new pages for your novel, you might find the lack of a keyboard on your tablet to be a problem. Typing on a tablet's touch screen is fine for short bursts, but over the long haul you can't beat a computer keyboard.

I suggest getting a third-party stand and keyboard for your tablet. You can find folio cases that combine both stand and keyboard. Microsoft's Surface tablets have a built-in stand and an optional cover with a built-in keyboard.

The nice thing about add-on stands and keyboards is that when you're done writing, you can pop the tablet out and it's back to playing popular games while curled up on the couch. Try doing that with your desktop.

If you're tired of staring at the small tablet screen, many tablets can plug into a TV with HDMI.

You can also grab a USB On-The-Go adapter for many Android tablets that lets you plug in a flash drive or other USB-based add-ons. iPads have an adapter for USB camera cords and SD cards.

Apps

It isn't just the hardware that takes some tweaking. You probably have some programs on your computer you can't live without. It might be your word processor, photo editor or financial program. How do you get those on your tablet?

Well, unless you buy a Surface Pro 3 tablet that runs a full version of Windows, you probably can't. What you can do is find app versions and replacements.

Email, a media player, a browser — every tablet comes with these, and you can get third-party replacements if you want.

For documents, there are app versions of Microsoft Office, Apple's iWork and Google Docs. If you buy a Microsoft Surface RT tablet, Office apps are already built in.

For photo editing, you can get Adobe's Photoshop Touch app. To organize your photos, you can use the tablet's built-in photo library app or grab an app like Tidy.

To help with your finances, you can grab the Mint app. If you're already familiar with GnuCash on your computer, you might want to grab the GnuCash app.

If you have certain programs that you use a lot — scanner, weather checker, personal organizer, medical reference — you can poke around and probably find an app that does the same thing. There are even apps to help you print.

Now, you might have a special program you use that doesn't have an app equivalent. In that case, you'll want to stick with a regular computer, or snag a Surface Pro tablet that runs a full version of Windows.

E-mail Kim Komando at techcomments@usatoday.com.

 

 
 


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