Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tab, You’re It

By Tom Inglesby

If you are reading this on a tablet or a smartphone, you are among the majority. Not that we’ve done a survey or anything, it’s just the idea that busy people, unless they are tied to a desk—like us writers—are more likely to use a portable device for their communications and information. At work on a set, a far-flung location, or post-production studio means you don’t have the luxury of a 20-inch monitor and tower case computer. Not that you need one; today’s laptops are as powerful—often more powerful—than a desktop and a lot more portable.

But the true portable computer has become the tablet. What Apple tossed into the mix, the iPad, has spawned a new generation of flat screens-with-computing that come in so many sizes there is one for every possible pocket. As tablets get bigger, smartphones follow suit. The Samsung Galaxy Note, my phone of choice, has a screen bigger than some tablets. Makes these old eyes suffer less strain when reading texts—as one pre-teen said, “Who calls on a phone anymore?”—and offers a reasonable alternative to the tablet for daily, on-the-go communications and information gathering.

Years ago, when the iPad was the supposedly only game in town for tablets, my wife was in China and bought me an “iPad” on a Shanghai street corner. Her thinking was, iPads are assembled in China so seconds and rejects easily find their way into the black market. And the price, about $125 after currency conversion, was much better than the $600-plus for the U.S. marketed version. And it had the Apple logo on the back! What could go wrong?

Fired up, it turned out to be an Android OS tablet with minimal memory and almost no apps available. And, of course, no service, warranty or support in the U.S. (probably none in China, either). So much for bargain hunting.

Today, I have tablets of various screen sizes to choose from depending on the reason I’m carrying one. Trade show? Take the iPad—a real one—to show Markee digital edition to exhibitors. Conference? Go with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The 7-inch screen is fine and the tablet fits in a pocket instead of a case. Mixing OS is no longer a problem as almost every app is replicated on iOS and ‘Droid.

There comes a time when the technology we employ dictates the way we do business. The printing press allowed the newspaper industry to develop; radio begot television. The Internet has caused any number of changes in how we approach communications. Markee, like every successful magazine, has long been part of that technological advance with a digital edition you can read on a tablet—or smartphone—and a website, blog, Facebook pages, Twitter and every possible social media method known to Western civilization. Some of which this old guy never heard of before!

To paraphrase an old quotation, “The handwriting is on the tablet.” Markee is moving its magazine to a fully digital edition in 2015; the last paper printed version, Winter 2014-15, will soon become a collector’s item, I’m sure. If you attend NAB this year, be sure to pick up a copy and preserve it for generations to come.