Content is King

As you may know, I've been looking at a couple of options for tablet computing, specifically Windows8-based systems (the Microsoft Surface caught my eye) and Apple's iPad. I discussed some of the hardware differences in the first installment in this series, so I won't spend much time on them here. The gist of it is that most, if not all, of the Windows8 tablets offer various expansion and connectivity options, where the iPad does not.

I've also briefly discussed some of the applications available for the Windows8 and RT platforms, and even had some serious fun with some of them, and touched on Microsoft's latest iteration of Office.

I think that from an application standpoint, I would be perfectly happy with either an iPad or a Windows8 tablet. While Windows8 has the advantage that my existing home inspection software would run, my current home inspection workflow -- hand-written notes and photographs on site, and then building the report later at the office -- is acceptable.

So, what's left?

In a word, content. There are a number of electronic publications that I'm interested in that are only available on the iPad. Most photographers content apps are written for iPad, as are many excellent photography magazines. Additionally, some of my favorite model railroad "magazines" is on the iPad (and also on Windows), and there are one or two music magazines that I would be able to read electronically. Like the photographic content, the music magazines are not available on the Windows platform.

The content availability is great, but would quickly eat at the fixed storage capacity. Fortunately, Apple figured that problem out long ago, allowing easy management through iTunes. As with a book reader like the Nook, purchased content can be moved on and off the device as desired.

Note: It is possible to attach an SD card to an iPad using the Camera Connection Kit. There's also a device that can add 750GB to an iPad using a similar connection arrangement. The drawback is that it's only possible to move iPhoto compatible files (images and videos) from an external device onto the iPad. There's no way to move anything from the iPad to an external device, except by connecting it to a computer.

So, is there a verdict? Years ago, when I was involved in computer sales and support, we told our clients to choose their applications, and let that choice drive the decision about the hardware. Since the software playing field is pretty level, it mostly comes down to the content. Were I selecting a table for that reason alone, I think that the iPad wins out -- at least for me. But, I'm not.

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