A week of productivity with the Galaxy Tab

Back in December, I wrote a review of the Verizon Galaxy Tab, and it was really just an overview of the device.  I didn’t have it for very long, so I couldn’t really run it through it’s paces as thoroughly as I would have liked.  I arranged to get the device again, this time for a solid week, with the intention of exploring how productive I could be on the Tab.

Yes, I know, these tablets are primarily intended to be consumption devices – read books, surf, email, play games, etc.   But I wanted to give it a try anyway. How productive could I be, using the Galaxy Tab?  I took my netbook out of my briefcase, placed it on my desk and did not touch it for the week.  The only things I would take out of the house would be my HTC EVO and the Tab.  I installed several apps on the Tab to help with my pursuit of productivity. Here are my findings:

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Citrix

One of the first things I installed onto the Tab was the Citrix Receiver client.  This allowed me to connect to my work email as well as several other work systems I routinely access.  I ‘ve done this on my EVO and other smartphones in the past, but even on the 4.3″ EVO screen, it’s not something I’d want to use for an extended period.

It’s amazing what a difference the 7″ screen makes with the Citrix client. In landscape mode, my Lotus Notes was quite manageable, as were other sessions (remote desktop and other proprietary systems).  Speaking of landscape mode, Samsung conveniently placed the orientation lock in the notification curtain, which certainly comes in handy with things like Citrix. The app is best viewed in landscape mode, and the orientation lock allowed me to keep the app in that position no matter how I tilted the device.

I enjoyed the connectivity of the Verizon data connection in the Citrix scenario. I signed on & checked my email while I was getting ready for work, then put the Tab into my bag and headed out the door. When I got to my desk and turned on the Tab, my Citrix connection was still live.  Of course, Citrix kicked me off the session once I signed on to my workstation, but when I headed off to meetings or to meet with someone at their desk, I signed back in to Notes and had full access to all my work. That proved very handy. I could get used to that! Granted, some folks at work have Blackberries and therefore have access to their work email from wherever they are, but it can’t compare to connecting to the real thing via Citrix. One nice thing about the 7″ size of the Tab is that the keyboard is very thumb-able. I found myself comfortably handling large quantities of emails and other work with relative ease.  In addition, I could open attachments in email, and Microsoft Office opened (virtually through Citrix) allowing me to deal with those attachments effectively.

TeamViewer

I use TeamViewer to remotely access all my PC’s at home, as well as help family members with computer issues.  While the Android version is still technically in beta, it works great.  Again, as with Citrix, I am able to use it with my EVO and manage through a session, but the 7″ screen on the Galaxy Tab makes using TeamViewer quite pleasant.

One thing I’ve noticed that needs improving with TeamViewer – it disconnects when you switch to another app.   It’s not that big of a deal – you can reconnect easily, but still, it’s something I hope TeamViewer improves in the future.

Regardless of the disconnect issue, I was easily able to access home PC’s in several different scenarios throughout the week:

  • My wife needed me to revise some forms I created for her, before she headed to a meeting.  Using TeamViewer, I opened Microsoft Publisher on my PC at home and made the necessary edits to the forms she needed. It was easy and it was fast.

Accessing the desktop of a remote PC

Accessing my Desktop at home

Making edits via TeamViewer on the Galaxy Tab

  • My father was having issues printing something from a website, so I remotely connected to his PC in Florida and diagnosed the issue. I have done this before using my EVO when I was out & about, yet again, the larger screen made viewing his PC a lot more manageable.
  • A friend received a PDF in an email and needed it edited and returned right away.  I had him send the PDF to my email, then, using TeamViewer, I opened the file in my full version of Adobe Acrobat on my home PC, made the necessary edit, and emailed it back to him within minutes. Needless to say, he was both grateful and blown away!

Dropbox

I absolutely love Dropbox – it’s on all my computers and my EVO too.  As mentioned earlier, I do various computer work for my wife, and all those files are in Dropbox.  Accessing them on the Galaxy Tab proved very handy while on the go, and in all honesty, some of the files are not the easiest to view on my EVO screen, but on the Tab screen, I could see entire files with ease.  Note, if I needed to actually edit a file, I was more apt to use TeamViewer and edit the file remotely on a home PC, but Dropbox certainly helps for simply accessing files on the Tab.

Using the Dropbox app

Accessing Dropbox via the browser

I also use the heck out of Dropbox for storing images and files I use on this site (note the images for blog folder in the screenshots above!), so when I used the WordPress app on the Tab to make a post, I could grab the images I worked on at home on the PC which were saved in that images for blog folder.  Admittedly, if I were to have a full-on laptop with me, I would be able to do much of the work I’ve described above, much faster, but the point is, you can do it with a tablet!

CamScanner

CamScanner turns your phone (or in this case, a tablet) into a document scanner to scan and manage your documents. I’ve used it quite a lot on my EVO, but again, the larger screen on the Tab made using CamScanner a pleasure.  I spent an evening scanning in numerous files into Evernote with the Galaxy Tab, all from the comfort of my living room! I know what you’re thinking: most people with a Tab or an iPad would be playing a game, reading a book or watching some video on their device while they relaxed in the living room!  Me, I was scanning files into Evernote! In my defense, I was focused on productivity for the review!

Scanning an article from a magazine

Cropping the shot

rotating the shot

Saving the scan as a PDF

The PDF of the magazine article

A few other notes, aside from productivity:

When I prepared for the first review of the Tab, I didn’t set the device up as my own, I used a test email account, and only installed a few apps.  For this review, I logged in to my “normal” Gmail account so I could have the Tab essentially set up like my EVO (for the most part). In a matter of minutes, I was synched to Google and had all my calendar, contacts and email on the Galaxy Tab.  I then used AppBrain to sync the list of apps from my EVO with the Tab.  I didn’t install all (145) of the apps I have on my EVO, but I did install a fair share of them.  The apps were chosen with productivity in mind.  My point is, all of this was incredibly easy and fast, and it didn’t require fancy footwork with any kind of desktop app.  In less than 10 minutes, the Galaxy Tab was almost a duplicate of my EVO setup, and I was operating in a familiar environment.

Swype is a great keyboard and I use it on my EVO all the time, but I found myself making more spelling errors than usual when swyping on the Galaxy Tab.  I attribute this to the larger screen.  As I mentioned in my first review, the swyping motion is much wider, much larger.  For example, the distance from the letter A to the letter L is better than two inches on the screen.  I would guess that in time, accuracy would improve, just like people need to learn how to use Swype on a standard smartphone screen.  The more you use it, the better you get.  During the week of using the review unit, I found myself tapping the letters vs. swyping, and I did just fine.  I also thumb typed (in portrait mode) with the default Samsung keyboard, and I got pretty fast and accurate with it!  That is a significant benefit of the 7″ form factor.

When reading Twitter feeds on my EVO, I frequently save tweets as favorites if there is a link that goes to a full-on web page, because even with a 4.3″ screen, I don’t enjoy viewing full websites on my EVO all that much.  I’ll do it in a pinch, but I usually prefer to open up those favorites later on my home PC, and view the full websites via my Chrome browser.  During the week with the Tab, I discovered that I was viewing more content on the device (be it links in tweets, emails, Pulse, etc).  I have grown to really like the size of the Tab – it is just large enough to make viewing things pleasurable, but not so large as to become uncomfortable to hold.  And holding a 7″ tablet in one hand is very feasible. With 10″ devices, not so much…

Conclusion

The Galaxy Tab proves very productive for accessing (and realistically handling) work related tasks using Citrix.  It receives good marks for ease of use with something like TeamViewer, which provides limitless capability for productivity, as you are accessing full-blown computers. Some things might not be as easy to do as when sitting at a PC, but you technically can do them.  Normally I would have used my netbook to accomplish a lot of the tasks I’ve mentioned, but the Tab did the trick, and I didn’t have to do anything special to tether, like I have to do with my netbook when I’m on the go.

I was pleasantly surprised to find how productive I could be with the Galaxy Tab, especially since the device is not really intended for such use.  Most people will use a tablet purely for entertainment and enjoyment, but it’s good to know that the device can be quite useful for other things as well.  There will still be a need for laptops in certain situations, but I am confident that we’re just beginning to see what can be done with the tablet form factor.  I had a glimpse of it for a week, and it was so impactful, I purchased a Tab of my own!  Anyone want to buy a used netbook?!  (kidding! I’ll still make use of it!)

 

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