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Apples to Androids

Comparing and pairing devices for work

Today’s business is no longer attached to desktop computers and landline phones as every level of employee increasingly works on or corresponds through wireless devices. The market has responded to this change, offering a wide array of smartphones and tablets that can help with increasing productivity and communication. A quick review of a few recent versions of tablets and smartphones offers a comparison for savvy business people to step up their wireless productivity.

Many of the following devices have capabilities that won’t be specifically listed. It is, by this point in time, industry standard that a smartphone or tablet have an address book, calendar, alarms/clock, one or, more likely, two cameras, voice recording, the ability to take videos and photos, support connecting with various email clients, note taking programs, various games, and other features. All of the devices in this article have these features.

Apple, iPad Air

The iPad Air is named for its extremely light weight: just one pound. The visible screen is 9.7 inches (all measurements for screen displays are diagonally from corner to corner), it has a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating (simply meaning lacking an affinity for oils), and features what Apple calls “retina display,” a display that has a high enough pixel density that the human eye is unable to notice pixelation at a typical viewing distance, Apple claims.

The iPad Air is charged through a “lightning connector,” a feature because the end of the cable that connects to the device is symmetrical, so it cannot be inserted incorrectly.

The iPad Air currently has four storage capacities, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB, with the prices of the tablet rising respectively ($499-$799). There is a “plus cellular” option that allows users to connect to the Internet through fast cellular data networks if Wi-Fi isn’t available. This is a month-to-month paid service which is set up through telecommunication service providers. This option is not free and changes the range of the price of the tablet itself ($629-$929).

The iPad Air comes with iOS 7 installed, which includes the Safari web browser and access to the Apple app store. iOS 7 also includes built in security, protecting against viruses, malware, and unauthorized access through use of a passcode. In iOS 7, use of a passcode automatically encrypts and protects email and third-party apps.

Apple products are notorious for having intuitive interfaces, quick load times, and interacting seamlessly with other Apple products; if one already has an Apple device, it’s a quick, timely process to transfer calendar items or meeting dates, business contacts, or other stored data. Access to cloud storage data means that documents do not need to be downloaded, saved, or updated in various storage locations, meaning that work does not need to be interrupted by travel or because the tablet was mistakenly left at home.

The iPad Air is not pre-loaded with Microsoft Office Suite compatible apps; and although there are built-in programs that can read documents there may be conversion issues. There are options in the app store that allow one to work around the issue, but most are not free. Apple does have a keyboard that is compatible with the iPad Air, allowing one to type normally for the composition of emails or other documents.

 

Apple, iPhone 5s

At press time, the newest iPhone is the iPhone 5s, available with 16GB, 32GB, and 64 GB storage capacities ($199-$399, depending on service plan). Its display is four inches. It has a Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor built into the home button.

The battery life of the iPhone 5s, as with any smartphone, varies widely depending on use. If continuously using the phone to talk, use the Internet, or play videos, the battery may last up to ten hours; for audio playback, up to forty; if it is left in a desk drawer, it may only need to be recharged approximately every ten days. As with the tablet, it does come with audio, video, photo, and document apps, as well as access to the app store.

This phone works well for storing contact data and simple work tasks, though it can be clumsy for document manipulation or editing, as is any device with limited surface area. Its calendar and address book features can be easily integrated with other Apple products. It is also a just a few simple steps to sync this device with current email or social media accounts.

Of course this is a phone; its speed capabilities depend entirely on the service area and provider, which in Alaska can be limited outside of urban areas and away from towers, though this is not an issue specific to Apple products. If one is lost in the woods and happens to have service and a charged phone, it also has a compass.

 

Nokia, Lumia 2520

Nokia offers as a tablet the Lumia 2520 ($399-$499 depending on telecommunications provider contract and color), which weighs approximately 1.4 pounds, has a 10.1 inch HD display that comes with enhanced outdoor readability, and the glass has been manufactured and chemically treated to be more durable and damage resistant. It has 32 GB of memory, Bluetooth 4.0, and camera and video recording capabilities. Battery life depends on use, but the device can last up to twenty-five days without recharging with minimal use.

The Lumia 2520 comes with Windows RT, release version 8.1, a Windows operating system (OS) designed for mobile devices. This OS comes with a version of Microsoft Office 2013, including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Microsoft Outlooks apps. It also has a cloud storage app, SkyDrive.

The Lumia 2520 is secured by a passcode and a user is able to delete data off the device remotely via the Internet from another device, a great feature if it is necessary to keep sensitive business data on a work device.

A benefit of this device are it’s several connectivity options, a standard micro USB 3.0 port and a microSD port, which can accept microSD cards with up to 32 GB of memory. The cards can be switched out when full, or data can be taken off of them and stored in a more secure or central location, if necessary.

The Lumia 2520 is a good work option. The pre-installed Microsoft apps avoid document conversion issues. Further, the device does not contain an actual version of Microsoft Word, but a version that has been modified specifically for touch screen, mobile devices. While it may take a few minutes to become familiarized with how to manipulate the apps, they are similar enough to their PC counterparts that the learning curve is quite low.

The Nokia Power Keyboard can be attached to this tablet, providing a stand and ability to type regularly. There are also Bluetooth keyboards that can be connected to the device, though the lack of attachment would make some sort of stand necessary to make typing practical.

 

Nokia, Lumia 925

The Lumia 925 (cost varies, depending on plan) has a display of 4.5 inches. The battery can last from eight to twelve hours, depending on whether the call takes place on the network speed; the phone can go without being recharged for approximately sixteen days if it is used minimally. It also features damage resistant glass, as well as sunlight readability enhancements. The phone comes with 32 GB of memory, Bluetooth 3.0, and has Windows Phone 8 OS preinstalled, also supporting Microsoft Office apps.

The homepage is easy, even for first time users, to organize or personalize, placing apps that are more or less commonly used in convenient locations.

Working with documents on this device is not difficult, but is restricted, naturally, by the reduced size of the screen; but, if one is only going to have one touch device and it needs to be a phone, reviewing and editing documents on this product is certainly doable, though generating them may be onerous, due mostly to the fact that one would need to use the on-screen keyboard—making the perfect case to also have the Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet as a companion sync.

 

Samsung, Galaxy Note 8.0

Samsung offers several tablets and phones, though one of “note” is the Galaxy Note 8.0. This is smaller than the other tablets reviewed here, but is still larger than a smartphone with a display of eight inches. It weighs approximately 0.75 pounds, and is therefore lighter than the iPad Air, though of course the display is two inches smaller. The battery life varies with use, but one can play videos for approximately eight hours without recharging. Its OS is Android 4.1, also known as Jelly Bean (Android systems are all named after sweet treats). This OS comes with Polaris Office 5 preinstalled, which is capable of opening and allowing the modification of common Microsoft Office file formats. The Galaxy Note 8.0 comes with access to the Android app store.

The Galaxy Note 8.0 comes with 16 GB of memory and a microSCHC card reader, which accepts cards with up to 64 GB of memory. The Galaxy Note is Wi-Fi only, and therefore it is not necessary to have a data plan through a telecommunications provider.

An incredibly useful feature of this tablet is the “S pen” that comes with it. This can make hand-writing notes or annotations much easier. It also allows one to circle anything on screen to get a “screenshot.” In addition, letting the pen hover over the screen produces many useful results: while learning to use the tablet, hovering the pen over a button displays that button’s function; hovering over a file displays a peak of what the file contains. For those new to touch screen devices, this is an incredibly useful feature. For a work device, the S pen allows many functions, such as circling a word or phrase, that are beneficial for commenting on or editing documents. It is smaller and lighter than many other tablets, though still considerably larger than most smart phones, allowing enough of a display to work practically.

 

Samsung, Galaxy Note 3

The Galaxy Note 3 is a Samsung smartphone with a HD 5.7 inch display (price ranges from $300-$700 depending on contract). Its OS is Android 4.3, Jelly Bean. It has Wi-Fi capabilities and is USB 2.0 and 3.0 compatible, and it comes with Bluetooth 4.0. It is enabled for 4G LTE. The Galaxy Note 3’s internal memory is 32 GB. The battery life is six hours if the phone is in continuous use, and can last up to twenty-four hours with low to normal use.

This phone also has an S pen, with many of the same functions as with the tablet. The S pen can be used both for easier typing on the touch screen as well as hand-writing notes. It comes pre-installed with a program called “Action Memo,” which allows the user to turn notes written with the S pen into text—for example, a phone number written by hand can be added to a person’s contacts.

 

Asus, MeMo Pad

The Asus has a display of 10.1 inches and features “10-finger multi-touch” capability, which means that the MeMo Pad will respond to up to ten points of contact at once, unlike other touch screen devices that may respond to only one. It weighs 1.28 pounds, just between the Apple and Nokia tablets. The battery life is approximately ten hours. It’s available in 16 GB or 32 GB, but does have a MicroSD slot that can accept cards up to 32 GB. It comes with Bluetooth 3.0 capabilities. The MeMo Pad utilizes the OS Android 4.2, Jelly Bean.

In terms of video and display, this tablet has both a Micro USB and a Micro HDMI jack, allowing higher quality video and streaming to and from the device.

This particular feature is particularly useful for meetings, presentations, trade shows, or conferences while traveling when one needs to share charts, photos, or slide shows. The two jacks mean that the tablet will be able to interface with a larger variety of electronic devices, and if the other device is HDMI compatible, will do so with a higher quality image.

There is an official Asus accessory for this tablet which acts as a keyboard, cover, and stand. It connects to the tablet through Bluetooth. This tablet has access to all Android apps, including Polaris Office.

 

The variety of devices available expands far past those mentioned here, which is useful—since the options, tools, and apps are practically endless—for anyone shopping around, as well as potentially confusing. The current trend in many companies is not for the business to supply employees with these types of work tools, but for employees to shop for, purchase, and utilize them as they see fit. It’s a benefit, in a way, to employees, as this allows them to set a budget and can ease the trouble of shopping around, if one thinks carefully about the tasks the device must perform. If one is an editor, ease of document editing is absolutely necessary. For someone traveling who needs access to email, a smartphone may work better, as it avoids the issue of having two devices to pack instead of one. Before shopping for a smartphone or tablet, determine what the wireless device needs to do, and go from there.

Tasha Anderson is the Survey Manager and Editorial Assistant for Alaska Business Monthly.

This first appeared in the March 2014 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly magazine.

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