Can a tablet replace paper?
Ever since the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) arrived, successive generations of handheld devices have promised to deliver a life without paper. They’ve all failed. But Angus Farquhar, leader of the talented Which? video team, believes the latest generation of tablets could change all that.
In fact, so confident was he that he accepted a challenge from deputy tech editor, Andy Vandervell, to replace his pads of paper with a 7-inch Android tablet, the HTC Flyer (above). This is his story…
Challenge #1: The daily planner
As a video producer my time is split between working in the office and shooting out on location. Keeping my diary up-to-date and me in the right place is quite a challenge, one that used to require a daily planner to keep myself organised. Replacing it with the HTC Flyer proved no problem at all.
Firstly the calendar app is really nicely laid out, letting me see multiple months at once for planning my life around future trade show attendance or zooming-in to see my day planned out to perfection.
Beyond this, though, the HTC’s handling of multiple calendars is excellent. I can now have my personal Google Calendar, work Outlook calendar, and team Outlook calendar all synced in the same display, but still kept separate for when I need to view them on their own.
Events are marked by the colour of the calendar they belong to and they all beep to remind me exactly where I’m supposed to, which means I’m actually starting to get where I’m meant to be, somewhat close to on-time. It’s been a godsend.
Challenge #2: Making notes
So that’s the chunky paper diary ditched out of my bag. Next was to get rid of the other bain of my life: the notepad.
It’s a well-known fact among my friends and colleagues that I have a terrible memory. I take notes about everything and I’m a constant list-maker, otherwise I always forget what I’m supposed to be doing.
The trouble with paper notepads is that even if I know I’ve written something down, I can never find the blasted scribble two months later when I really need to recall that incredibly useful piece of information I stored away. Enter Evernote, the external hard drive for my brain. Evernote is a service that takes note making and list creating to a new level, synchronising your efforts across phones, tablets and computers and storing them online ‘in the cloud’.
The Flyer is the perfect size for holding in your hand and thumb typing, which means I can take notes on Evernote easily whether I’m sitting at a meeting or standing at the side of the road waiting to film a new car. And now with the notes in Evernote rather than on paper not only do I have them all with me all of the time, but I can search them all in real-time so I can always recall that pertinent fact.
Challenge #3: No more printing
So with both the permanent paper residents of my desk and bag banished to the back of the drawer, the next stage was to get rid of the transient paper that always clutters up my life; stuff that you normally have to print out but often only use once, like airline tickets, travel schedules and event invites.
Now every time I get an email I would normally print out it gets saved straight into Evernote, so I can pull it up exactly when I need to. Even things like airline and show tickets often come with barcodes that are just as easily scanned from the HTC’s screen as they are from paper. Unfortunately you still have to have a printed boarding pass for planes as officials do still like to have a little piece of paper in their hands to confirm that the right number of people are about to fly.
And when you do go travelling, nothing saves space in your bag better than reading digital books. Due to its size the HTC Flyer is a great ebook reader, and the Amazon Kindle app is ideal as it syncs your progress so you can carry on where you left off on nearly any device. It’s just a shame that there aren’t as many newspaper apps on Android as on the iPad. But many apps make it easy to save online articles to read later and the Zinio app means you can download magazines, like my favourite Triathlon Plus, straight to the tablet.
Challenge #4: Working with other people
Where I stumbled in my challenge was when I needed to work with other people. When sifting through CVs and covering letters with a colleague, there was no easy way to get things done without printing them out, sitting down together and getting the old red pen out. I could have worked around the problem by emailing my notes, but whatever solution I came up with just felt convoluted. When you try and not use paper, it works so long as everyone else is doing exactly the same.
All in all, though, I think it has been a pretty successful challenge. I’ve used significantly less paper than I would have otherwise and I am definitely more organised. And if Andy thinks he’s getting the HTC Flyer back after this challenge, he’s going to have to fight me for it.
Post a Comment
Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked