I bought a tablet in October 2012 as a computer stand-in while I was in Québec for a month without a home computer. It seemed like a cost-effective and practical solution, since I knew I'd continue to use the e-reader capabilities once I returned to Ontario. We (I consult with my spouse on all tech matters) opted for the Google Nexus 7 mostly for its price, but also because I'm becoming brand loyal to Google, to be completely honest. I'm happy to say that I don't regret the purchase - my Nexus has been very useful for my studies.
What Is It?
When people don't know what I mean by "tablet", I say "it's an iPad, but not Apple". One could also say that it's a big smart phone, without the actual phone capability. It's also similar to a more flexible Kindle Fire, but without the Amazon software.
- 7-inch HD display
- Latest version of Android (currently Jelly Bean 4.2)
- Quad-core processor
- Up to 10 hours of battery
- 1.2 megapixel camera
- 12 oz
- WiFi and bluetooth connectivity
Side note: LifeHacker readers recently voted Google's Nexus 7 as the most popular Android tablet. They also reviewed four other tablets, including the Nexus 7's bigger sibling, the Nexus 10.
Of course, a tablet is only as useful as the apps you put on it. Since I'm new to the mobile device scene, I've only brushed the surface of apps. That said, my tablet is loaded with productive apps on one page and games and other time sucks on another. In fact, apps are worth they're own post, but I'll provide a list here.
|"Productive" apps||"Procrastination" apps|
My most-used apps include:
- Google Calendar
- Chrome (which comes pre-loaded and is integrated into the operating system)
- ezPDF Reader
- Google Drive
- Google Reader
Nexus for Academics and PhD Students: Or... How I use my Nexus
I wished there had been a blog on this exact topic when I was deciding if I should buy a tablet/Nexus 7. So here it is: some of the ways I use my Nexus to help with my grad studies. Maybe it will help you decide if a tablet would be useful for you, or maybe you're checking out the Nexus 7 specifically.
Reading Literature: ezPDF Reader and Evernote
|Reading a PDF in ezPDFReader||Taking notes in Evernote|
|Annotating a PDF in ezPDFReader|
I can also read e-books that come in PDF format, such as those downloaded via my university.
Lately I've been reading a (paperback) book instead of papers, in which case I take notes directly into Evernote.
Note that there are other apps to read PDFs in, but I saw a good video on using this one and it convinced me.
Reading textbooks: Kindle app for textbooks
|Tables can be problematic in Kindle books|
|Formulas seem to be OK||R code is fine|
I catch up on my Twitter feed in the morning. Most often I save tweets to my Evernote if I think I might want to blog about them later. Other times I'll send interesting articles to friends or colleagues I less often retweet or quote others, reply to tweets, or post new tweets. Since my feed is comprised mostly of academics or science writers, my feed is filled with interesting science news, life hacks and tips, ways to be more productive, etc. In other words, it's a great resource for learning about the types of things I blog about!
Evernote, my second brain:
"Anything you don't want to forget, you put in Evernote" is how I describe Evernote when asked for a 2-second pitch. From my Nexus, I primarily use Evernote to save tweets I want to blog about later, to take notes on papers, or to record ideas I come up with while not in front of a computer. I'll also use it to consult with pre-existing notes, such as my weekly to do lists. (Credit to Next Scientist for the idea of a "second brain".)
I work from my home in Ontario, but occasionally I need to sign documents for administrative purposes in Québec. ezPDF Reader makes it easy to hand-sign documents for those of us who aren't yet comfortable (or entirely familiar) with digital signatures.
Reclaiming non-productive time:
The whole point of a tablet is that it's portable. I can do most of the above activities from a waiting room or while baby-sitting my nephew. One consideration is that the Nexus doesn't connect to the cell phone network - it's wi-fi only. So, for example, you can't browse the web while riding the bus. Then again, if you have a smart phone that can set up a wi-fi hotspot (and you have a good data package), you're set.
Do you have a Nexus or other tablet? How do you use it for your work or studies?
Leave a comment if you have any questions.