For almost any task you do, on whichever device you use, there would be limitations.
– Desktop computer:
“I can’t take it with me everywhere.”
“It is not as convenient to use for this reading/referencing.”
– Laptop computer:
“The battery life is not ideal.”
“It is a bit heavy/large.”
– iPad (Pro):
“It cannot do this task the way I’m used to on a PC/Mac”
“It cannot do this task, period!”
“The screen is too small for a meaningful work task!”
“Using this with an external keyboard is cumbersome!”
Generally, one might ask “Why can’t there be one device that can do it all without limitations?!”
Well, the truth is that no device is perfect!
The good news is that we are lucky to live through a period where computational devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes, which enables us to experiment and find the best combination of use/utility for our particular needs.
# Ideal tech-state
Ideally, you want to be able to reach an equilibrium; a situation where you are able to just pick up and use the device most suitable for the task. You are looking for the best utility/value and the minimum limitations for the type and context of the needed task.
To reach such a situation, you would need thinking, planning, and sufficient experimentations. You would then hopefully reach that ideal state and get habituated in picking-up/using the best devices for the job. Later, though, the cycle would start again as your needs and the technology keep advancing.
The other interesting fact here is that we are different people with different needs and preferences! So an ideal tech-state for me would not necessarily be an ideal tech-state for you!
So in tackling this issue, allow me to discuss it from my perspective. To avoid the risk of being too narrow though, I would include a somewhat wider scope of users. Namely, we are talking about office/white-collar employees, especially those working in education/training/consultation.
We will assume a person who owns all major categories of computational devices; a desktop computer (the iMac at work, and perhaps another one at home), a tablet (the iPad (Pro)), a smartphone (the iPhone), and a smart watch (the Apple Watch).
We first present the MCB Ability/Mobility matrix for computer devices. We then look at three main usage contexts for our hypothetical person: At Office, Working on the Go, and At Home. After that, we present a list of common tasks and proposed primary and secondary devices to use for them.
# The MCB Ability/Mobility Matrix
This matrix shows where each device stands in relation to its Ability (mainly computational power, storage, and screen size) and Mobility (ease/convenience of movement, the right size, battery life, and mobile experience).
As you can see, the iMac (or the desktop computer in general) scores the highest in Ability, but scores very low in Mobility. The Apple Watch, on the other hand, scores the highest in Mobility and very low in Ability. Other devices are somewhere in between and, in my opinion, the iPad holds the sweetest spot!!
Of course, this matrix is not perfectly factual, but it does give you an idea of where each device stands.
# Context-1: At Office
So, let’s get back to our hypothetical person. He/She is at the office, which provides him/her with a desktop computer. In such a situation, the ideal-tech state would be to mainly use the desktop computer for work tasks.
This includes writing, e-mailing, and working on other specialized tasks using perhaps specialized software.
The secondary device here, I would argue, would be an iPad (Pro). It could be used for handwritten notes and perhaps time management (tasks/ToDos and Calendar).
The iPad would also serve well when the person is out of his office desk; attending meetings for example, where he/she would be taking notes (handwritten or typed), using reference files, and adding appointments to his/her calendar.
His/Her iPhone would be there, but because it is the office, it would remain (on its face) on the table. He/She would be using it mainly for communications; making phone calls and writing texts (mostly related to the job, and perhaps with his/her family during lunch break and before leaving).
And because he/she doesn’t want to miss out important notifications, his/her Apple Watch (with proper notification settings) would be doing that role in an unobstrusive manner.
# Context-2: Working on the Go:
In this situation, the person would not be at his/her office, which means he/she would not have access to his/her desktop computer. Still, we are talking about work related situations, like going to give a presentation, attending a conference, attending an outside meeting, doing some field work, or even working at at a coffee shop.
For this context, I would argue that the iPad (Pro) would be an ideal primary device. It is great for writing on the go, giving presentations (either Keynote or PowerPoint), taking meeting notes, having reference (digital) papers in hand, emailing, and time management (calendar, task manager).
The user would, of course, need a good mechanism for synchronizing his/her files with the ones on the main desktop computer, which emphasizes the importance of the cloud.
The secondary device here would be an iPhone. Being on the go translates into more communications. In addition, and if the iPad is not at hand, the iPhone could complete some other tasks, like responding to emails and checking references.
The Apple Watch would also be handy in making that important phone call or text message while walking from place to another, or checking where the meeting/event is held through the calendar app.
# Context-3: At home:
Well, life is not all about work!
Yes, the Mobile Computer Blog’s primary focus is on productivity, but this doesn’t necessarily mean your job’s tasks. Productivity also includes time management, personal email, and your health.
And, of course, entertainment has a place here. Our hypothetical person would want to watch movies, TV shows, YouTube videos. He/She might also want to play games or do some casual browsing.
I would also argue that for this context, the iPad (Pro) would be an ideal device. For either personal productivity or entertainment, the added screen space proves to be valuable.
Of course, having a computer at home would take some (or most) of these tasks depending on the person’s preference. But, if he/she is not sitting at his/her computer desk, the iPad is very convenient to carry around and complete these tasks.
The iPhone, in addition to its communication focus, could also take some personal productivity and entertainment tasks. The person might not want to contaminate the iPad with entertainment activities so as to keep it – at the psychological level – focused on helping you be more productive and influential.
The Watch, again and in addition to time-keeping, would be helpful in doing the iPhone tasks in situations where he/she is not able to pick up his/her phone (washing the dishes, carrying a baby, organizing your books, etc.).
Let me reiterate, every person is different. The above contexts and the respective suggested use cases are given for your reference. The idea is for you to take this as a blueprint, a template, or a starting point to think about your own ideal tech-state and your own balance point of using these devices.
For your references, I’m providing below a basic list of tasks and suggested primary and secondary devices.
# Appendix: Best Devices for the Task
7 thoughts on “Which device to use?”