Being a tech enthusiast on a budget can be challenging. Not because there’s so many great things in the world and too little money to enjoy them, but the fear of wasting money on the wrong thing. This is really where other creators, YouTube and the like, can help cut through the noise and give an honest review of products. However that statement is full of crap. The biggest issue in this sphere (other than fake reviews that are actually ads, whole different conversation) is whether or not something is “pro”.
Going for a tablet
I recently purchased a Samsung S5e tablet. I upgraded slightly to get the 128 GB version, which happens to come with 6 GB of RAM. My goal in purchasing a tablet, the first brand new tech device I’ve bought in several years, was to stop carrying my Dell Lattitude E5440 while on the road. Secondary goal was to have something for getting work done while home either on the couch or at the kitchen table. Nothing against my E5440, its a true workhorse. It is gigantic though.
For some time I’ve been looking around at what the best deal would be for a ultra-portable that accomplishes a few things: Super small and light with great battery life, with at least a 10” screen. App support for a normal work day, including Google Drive, Gmail, Slack, Jitsi, Todoist and of course a browser. Fun while traveling with games, podcasts, YouTube. But small enough I can actually fit it on an airplane tray (unlike my E5440).
I searched for many months while squirreling away my money. No matter what the spend had to be under my $500 budget. I checked Chromebooks, ultra-portables, slimbooks and even glanced at a few old netbooks on eBay. In the end what I came to was this Samsung tablet (which is where I’m writing right now).
What was frustrating for me through the process was how many people said the Tab S5e was good enough to play, but not good enough for a road warrior or someone trying to get work done. Again and again and again I came across blogs and videos that demoted this tablet to a simple toy, rather than a real machine that can get real work done. The only reason I can see why “real work” is because every tech enthusiast always thinking that real work can only get done on something that costs a lot of money. That high cost equals high performance.
So for anyone that is considering using a mid-range tablet for “real work” I’m here to defend you. Yes, I could have waited for the newly announced Tab S6. But its way above my budget. I could have spent an extra $150 and got a S4 which was classified by many as a true work machine. But it didn’t seem worth it to spend the money just for S-Pen support, of which I’m not an artist or someone who takes hand notes. Not including that its still $150 more. I really had to stretch to pick up this S5e, every dollar counts.
Which is another thing mainstream tech people don’t seem to understand. If my budget is $500, that doesn’t mean I can stretch an extra $100 to $200 just because there’s another shinier object. I get it, the specs on the Tab S6 are newer and possibly faster (probably, but yet to be seen). But I have other bills to pay and a whole house full of people that depend on me. Being belligerent with money doesn’t help me sleep at night.
Back to to getting real work done. Here is a recent work day for me, a Digital Marketing Manager, exclusively using the Tab S5e as my primary driver.
- After my normal morning routine (shower, eat breakfast, make a big cup of iced coffee – I do live in Arizona and it is August) I plop down on the sofa and load Buffer and my RSS app FeedMe side-by-side. I use this time to read the news and load up my social schedule for the day.
- Before leaving for the office I review my Todoist list, make sure my podcast feeds have synced and are in the right order for my 45 min. drive to work.
- On the drive I connect the tablet via bluetooth to my car to enjoy the latest episode of LinuxGameCast Weekly.
- Arriving I dock my tablet in a cheap UGreen USB-C dock and switch to DeX mode so I can have a more traditional desktop layout. I have a wired keyboard/mouse plus a 22” 1080 monitor. More coffee.
- I post to my teams #daily Slack channel what I’m up to for the day, respond to a few emails, add to my calendar and see who put themselves on it via my Calendly link.
- My morning is all meetings. Using the tablet plus a bluetooth keyboard I go from room to room taking notes, responding to more Slack and of course, more emails.
- Before lunch I dock the tablet again and write a quick blog post in Google Docs and create a banner image with Canva.
- During lunch I undock and read more of my RSS feed in FeedMe, chat with my wife in Telegram and have some more Twitter time.
- After lunch I dock, review some proofs from our content team and update various projects in our project management suite (Wrike if you’re wondering).
- More emails, more Slack, write up some team documentation and work on a spreadsheet of email performance in Google Sheets.
- Video chat via Jitsi with a remote employee at the end of the day to review project status.
- Head to the gym and fire up YouTube to watch some GaryVee while running on the treadmill. I need all the motivation I can get.
- Head home listening to Red War, the most recent Mitch Rapp thriller using Overdrive synced bluetooth.
- After dinner I write this blog post in Docs and add it as a draft to my WordPress site.
- Kids go to bed and I find a comfortable spot on the living room floor to lay down, put on an episode of Futurama on Hulu with Imgur running side-by-side (Usersub rising) to close out the night.
Never once throughout the day did I run into an issue. At times it may have been nice to switch back to my dual screen desktop, but I never felt like it was necessary. I realize I don’t do visual, audio or video production. But these tasks work best with specialized PC’s. For an average day in the office I say this tablet can accomplish real work.
The competition is in the “pro” name, which is where I started and the real problem with tech reviewers. Either they’re in video production (hence making content for YouTube) or a developer waiting to shit on anything presented with (they always think they’re the smartest people in the room), which are not use cases for a mobile workstation.
The real moral of the story here is “pro”is what it means to you, not what some jackass on YouTube or an Android blog says. Pro means what you need to get your job done. For me, its docs and notes while running around to meetings and chatting with my team all day. I’m tired of the play versus pro mentality. Don’t let these internet jackasses convince you not to make or accomplish something just because you have “inferior” equipment. The right tool for the job is the one you have in front of you. For me its a Dell E5440 and a Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e.