My newest tablet is an Acer Iconia W510 running Windows 8 Pro. The basic version is $549 and has 64 GB of storage—four times the storage in the entry-level iPad 3. The Acer has become my main tablet for two other reasons.
It’s a full computer in a tablet-sized package.
The Acer can run desktop-level Windows software as well as apps from the Windows Store. That means it can run financial planning and insurance illustration software.
Windows 8 trumps iOS.
The newest Windows OS has a handwriting recognition keyboard that lets you use a stylus directly on the tablet to enter text or data. The device doesn’t have to be trained, and you don’t have to be precise when writing. Combine that functionality with apps that blend text notes with diagrams, charts and drawings, and you have a near-perfect electronic note-taking device. Other features include quick flipping between open apps, a robust search function and a thumb keyboard: whether you hold the tablet horizontally or vertically, the keyboard will split so you can reach all letters with your thumbs.
Loading the needed tools
I use my tablet to annotate client statements, illustrate financial planning concepts, track performance and updates, take notes during meetings, log into company websites and edit various documents. Here’s what I use on my Acer:
One Note (app, free)
This Microsoft app lets you take notes, add charts and draw diagrams.
KingSoft Office (software, free trial or $69.95)
This is a stripped-down and less-expensive version of Microsoft Office. It opens and edits Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. It leaves out many features of the full Office suite, which means it uses approximately a tenth of the space.
AirParrot (software, $9.99)
This software broadcasts my tablet’s screen to my TV screen using Apple TV.
PDF Touch (app, $2.99)
This app lets you edit, highlight and add notes and lines to PDF statements, newsletters and other documents.
Dragon Notes (software, $19.99)
This lets me dictate notes up to 30 seconds long, and saves them in a time-stamped file.
Inky Email (software, free)
This slick email reader handles all my email accounts in a touch-friendly, comprehensive package. All messages are categorized and sorted by relevance.
LogMeIn (software, free)
This allows me to access my desktop computer as though I am sitting in front of it: handy when I need a file that has not been synced or a program that hasn’t been loaded into Dropbox or Skydrive.
Various Windows programs (free, with premium versions available)
- Chrome for browsing
- Evernote as an online library
- Dropbox for file syncing
- iCloud for photo syncing
- mySMS for texting
- Pulse to organize RSS feeds
Though it has better hardware than many tablets, the Acer is not as powerful as a basic, similarly priced laptop. And it also has only 64GB of storage, though you could add a Micro SD card and double the capacity.
I also chose to not spend an extra $200 on the available keyboard, even though it adds USB connectivity and extra battery power, because I wanted this device to be portable.