Why I Bought Another Laptop

One word: spreadsheets.

Late in 2011, as I was assessing the IT needs for my new business, I theorized that it might be possible to move to a tablet as my main computer when my aging laptop died (Read “I Need a Mobile Application Strategy“). Then I signed on two clients to produce survey research reports. Each of the nine reports involved datasets containing dozens of tables.

In theory, you could dock a tablet to a monitor, connect to a Bluetooth keyboard and play with numbers all day. Same goes for writing anything that requires frequently referring to notes. But then, you either chain yourself to a desk, like the old days, or you have to carry around multiple components. As appealing as those portable monitors are, I can’t really see setting one up in the dentist’s waiting room, or my car, or a number of other non-office spaces I’ve found myself working in as I pursue work-life balance (please share if your experience is different).

Almost two years, ago, my former colleague at CIO magazine, Kim Nash, did a story about delivering data for decision-making which concluded that IT leaders have to match the device, and the information on the device, to what people are trying to do. And that’s the case with any tool. So when the logic board in my MacBook Pro failed right after Thanksgiving–only hours after I submitted one of those research reports to a client–I headed to the Apple Store for a new one.

I use the iPad most days, especially to read, deal with my email, and manage my calendar and to-do lists. It’s been useful, too, as a second screen, when I’m in a meeting and need to refer to a presentation. But I can’t see it becoming my primary business device any time soon. On the other hand, the tablet is edging out the laptop for personal applications.

In the kitchen, different pans for different dishes. And at work, different devices for different workloads. Do you agree?

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