I've always been the first one to say that getting any work done with a tablet of any kind isn't very practical. They're great for consumption, but production was something all-together different. I've changed my mind a little bit this week. I now have a Transformer Prime and keyboard dock, and have found that you can get some work done with an Android tablet, you just have to find the right tools. Hit the break, and I'll walk you through how I wrote this blog post (and others) with my Prime.
The two biggest things that make it possible for me are the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade, and the kick-ass keyboard dock ASUS makes. Add a tablet like the Transformer Prime that has the innards to keep up, and you have the makings of a light-duty blogging machine. Read on and see what I mean.
You'll need to find the right tools to do the job. I spent a bit looking at what Android had to offer, and soon found the essentials that I need to get things done. You may find different tools work better for you, and that's OK. The Google Play store is chock full of similar apps to the ones I'm using, and you'll surely find something that works best for you. What works best for me:
- Chrome Beta. Remember when I said Ice Cream Sandwich was a must-have for me? This is why. Chrome Beta for Android holds all my bookmarks, my logins, and most importantly renders our blog-writing software correctly. It takes a lot of code and a little bit of magic to bring you the news, and Chrome Beta can handle it.
- File Manager HD. There are a lot of good file managers available, but I prefer File Manager HD on a tablet. It works great, ties in with my Samba shares on my home network, and a $2.49 in-app purchase disables the ads. Any good file manager would work, File Manager HD is the one that works for me.
- RawDroid. I shoot my pictures in RAW format. RawDroid (still considered a demo/beta) can open my Sony .ARW files without crashing and export them to any image editor. If I remember, I switch my camera to convert to jpg format, but RawDroid is a life-saver for those times I don't remember.
- PicSay Pro. There's a lot of different apps that will crop and edit photos. I like PicSay Pro. You should use the one you like best. But be sure to try the free version of PicSay before you decide, it does just about anything you'd need from a lightweight photo editor.
- Gmail. Chances are you're using this one anyway. You'll need it to talk to your boss and co-workers throughout the day.
- Riptide GP. All work and no play might make Jack a dull boy, but I wouldn't know. There's always time to play.
Getting it done
The first thing I always do is give Phil a heads up about what I'm working on. He's the brains behind this whole operation, I'm just a pretty face. Seriously -- it takes a lot of communication to keep things rolling on any busy website. That, and sending dirty jokes to all the writers, is why the Gmail app is so important.
While I'm thinking about what I want to write, I take about a million pictures. They help give you ideas, and pictures are a must to help show what you're talking about. Like this one, where I'm copying some from the camera to my Prime. I'm still learning the camera settings for my tablet, so I use what I know best -- luckily the keyboard dock lets me pop my SDcard right in and go. The cloud is convenient, and I use it for all of my storage needs. But to crank out a blog post I need something a bit more instant.
Because I usually shoot RAW format pictures, I have to open them in RawDroid and export them into another editor. It's a simple, but necessary step. Menu > File > Open, have a look and make sure it's what I was going for, then Menu > File > Save As or export. If I'm smart and plan ahead a little bit, I can skip this step -- but usually neither is the case. Good thing it's easy to work around.
Then I'll open my images in PicSay Pro, resize and crop them. There's probably an even lighter-weight alternative out there to do this, but like I mentioned earlier, I like PicSay Pro's features and it does a fine job at it. I've no incentive to look for something new. One day when I'm bored I'll search, but for now I stick with what works.
The next step is to jump back to Chrome, and upload those pictures. This is where a good file manager comes into play, you don't want to be fooling with cumbersome controls and complicated menu schemes just to upload a picture.
Now all that's left to do is put a few words together. Sometimes it's the easy part, sometimes not so much. Like transferring the pictures using the full size SDcard slot, this would not be happening if it weren't for the keyboard dock. If you have a Transformer or Prime, think about getting one if you don't already have one.
Then a little bit of Jet Ski action to wind down, and you're done.
And there you have it. I was wrong when I said you couldn't do any work with a tablet, and I'm happy to admit it. I wouldn't want to try to cover CES with just the Transformer Prime, but I'll bet it could be done -- with the right tools. (Like Riptide GP).