Freedom to work wherever you may be has never been more important than it is today. Companies are becoming more and more reliant on mobile employees that are constantly on the go. This has driven laptop and tablet manufacturers to create tablets and laptops that are much thinner and lighter than ever before.
Of course, it’s tough to be the travel friendliness of a good tablet. Their screens are smaller, they are lighter, and can easily fit inside almost any travel bag. Today, many manufacturers are building tablet/laptop hybrids to give you the best of both worlds. These hybrids are quite useful, but they often come with a steep price tag. Standard or classic tablets are much more affordable, but they lack many of the features you need in a true mobile workstation. Thanks to a very healthy accessory market, you can easily convert any tablet into a mobile workstation that you can take with you anywhere.
Of course, to create your very own mobile workstation, you will need to know what to buy. Today we will look at what you need to add to your tablet to turn it into a mobile workstation that will allow you to get serious work done without lugging around your heavy laptop.
Choosing Your Operating System
The first thing you need to do is choose your operating system. There are three main tablet operating systems:
- Apple iOS
Now there was a time when you had to choose a Windows tablet if you wanted more desktop functionality from your device. But times have changed. First, Android was the easiest to configure in a way that could work as a mobile workstation. Finally Apple iOS, with the most recent updates to the software, has finally become another good alternative for mobile workstation users. In the end, it really doesn’t matter which you choose. Your choice will determine what apps you download and use as well as what peripherals you buy. So make sure you consider all your options before you decide which tablet you will get.
A Good Keyboard
Once you have chosen the tablet you will be using, it’s time to get to work finding the right accessories. First, you will need a good keyboard. While an onscreen keyboard will get the job done in a pinch, you don’t want to type on it all day. Thankfully, there are many great keyboards out there designed for Apple’s iOS, Android and even Windows. These tablet keyboards are smaller than a regular keyboard, but they are great for travel. Make sure you grab one that is Bluetooth so you can connect it to your tablet. If you have a Surface, you could get away with a USB keyboard as well if you have one of the models that comes with a USB port.
Whatever you choose, make sure it feels good and is large enough to be comfortable for longer periods of use. While you can find full sized keyboards, you may want to consider a smaller one that is better for travel. It really comes down to how you plan on using it. Still, you want a keyboard so you can avoid that onscreen keyboard at all cost.
A Bluetooth Mouse or Other Input Device
Once you have your keyboard ready to go, you will need an input device to help you navigate the screen. There are many different types of devices today including pens and the Apple Pencil to help you navigate and make even more use out of your screen. Personally, I recommend the more traditional route of a Bluetooth mouse. Now this won’t work if you chose an iPad as your mobile workstation. Apple simply hasn’t built mouse support into iOS, instead opting for enhanced support for their own Apple Pencil.
However, if you have an Android tablet or a Windows tablet, you can connect almost any mouse to them and use them as your pointing device. Just make sure you have the Bluetooth connection if you use a Bluetooth mouse or an extra USB port if you choose a USB mouse instead.
This one is optional, and it really comes down to whether or not you have something already. If you travel a lot, chances are you have one already. If not, you will need to pick something up. The type of case you need really boils down to your travel needs. I would recommend that you pick up a case that offers some padding and a little extra room to store other essentials. Make sure that the case is small enough to go onto a plane as a carry on so you don’t have to check it as a piece of luggage. The last thing we want is for it to get lost.
The style really isn’t as important. Just make sure it looks nice and it fits your style. That way you know you will like it and enjoy using it. If you don’t, it could end up just collecting dust while you use something else that really isn’t built for it.
Most tablets, except the iPad, offer microSD slots for you to add more storage to your device. If you plan on using your tablet as a mobile workstation, then you may want to keep extra files on your tablet so you can easily access them with or without an Internet connection. While many tablets come with a bit of space, most of that will be taken with the apps you install. When you are working, you don’t want to stop and try to free up space, so grab yourself a microSD card to store all your files.
The Right Apps
Once you have all the extra hardware necessary to transform a tablet into a mobile workstation, you will need to get the right apps for your device. The apps you choose will largely depend on what want or need to do on your tablet when you are working, but there are a few I can recommend for you.
- Google Docs – The perfect document creation and editing tool for anyone who uses the Google Suite of apps, Google Docs will give you access to all types of document creation, from word processing to spreadsheets. The apps are free and almost as powerful as the full desktop versions of Microsoft Office.
- Microsoft Office – The standard in office productivity, Microsoft Office is now available for the mobile platforms as well. While they are a little more stripped down, they still offer unprecedented compatibility and seamless workflow if you make use of the Office applications for your work.
- Dropbox – If you are working on the go, you will probably need some cloud storage to store your work. Dropbox is just one example out there but it is one of the most popular. It works well across all platforms for both desktop operating systems and mobile operating systems, making it one of the best choices for cross platform file editing and document editing on the go with your tablet.
- Gmail – If you live in the Google world, then the Gmail app is essential to connect your tablet to your Gmail accounts. Gmail will interface with both personal and work Gmail accounts, giving you all your email in one beautiful app made with Gmail in mind.
- Microsoft Outlook – You will need a good email app. While the default apps are okay, in my opinion, you need an app like Outlook for your work email. Outlook will easily interface with pretty much any email you can think of, making it the perfect addition to any tablet.
- Remote Desktop – While this one won’t be on everyone’s list, if you want to connect to your work computer remotely, this can be one of the best ways to do it. Work on your desktop computer anywhere with this simple to use app.
- File Manager App – With all the files you are creating, you will need a good file manager app to organize and find your files. Your tablet will probably come with one, but there are many better options out there that will also interact with your cloud storage so you have one place to track and find all your files across all the different storage you use, both on and offline.
These are just a few of the apps you will need to get work done. It’s by no means a complete list of what you may or may not need. What you download will depend on what you need to do with your device. Keep in mind that some of the apps are free, but others will cost money. Having the right apps is key, so once you get your tablet, spend a few minutes downloading everything and organizing it on your tablet.
As you can see, it’s easier than you think to configure almost any tablet to transform it from a simple entertainment device into a mobile workstation that you can use for serious work almost anywhere. The key to it are the accessories you buy and the apps you download. If you want to get serious work done on your tablet, then follow this guide and you can transform your simple tablet into a serious workhorse.
What tablet do you use for your work? If you use your tablet for work, what apps and accessories did you get to help you increase its power? Sound off in the comments below on what you used and we can share it with everyone hoping to do the same thing.