Laptops can be powerful tools for getting work done from a variety of locations, but contrary to their name, laptops tend to work best on desks and tables – not laps. Today’s mobile attorneys, however, don’t always have the convenience of a nearby solid work surface. Even when they do, many attorneys prefer a more comfortable setting than one that has them hunched over a keyboard for hours on end, at least when it comes to the common task of reading and editing documents. So, whether your job requires you to work from crowded airports and conference rooms or you simply want the option of getting a little work done from that park bench outside your office (or from the comfort of your favorite armchair), you may want a device that requires neither desk nor lap. If this sounds like you, a few options rise to the top.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Though it is not the best option solely for reading documents (due to cost and weight), attorneys still love the Surface Pro 3 because it manages to combine most of the convenience of a tablet with the power of a full Windows PC. If you want to replace your current computer with a device that is also more portable than most laptops, this may be your best option. Keep in mind, however, that even though the Surface Pro 3 does in fact work competently as a full-fledged PC, its screen is a bit small and its keyboard “type cover” quite flimsy when compared with larger, more traditional notebook laptops. Price: $699 – $1,849 plus $129.99 for Type Cover
Sony Digital Paper System
Tison Rhine is the advisor to the State Bar of Wisconsin Law Office Management Assistance Program (Practice411™).
In stark contrast to the Surface Pro 3, Sony’s electronic paper replacement, with its sharp, gray-scale, 13.3” e-ink display, is designed for one thing, and one thing only: reading and editing documents. You can edit and add text to PDFs as you would on a PC, or mark up documents with the included stylus as if they were actual paper. The Sony has fantastic battery life (up to three weeks) and is thin, light, and easy to read in bright-lighting conditions. The Sony is quite expensive for a single-purpose device, however, and also has relatively poor screen responsiveness compared to tablets with capacitive LCD or OLED displays. There is a noticeable lag when you drag the Digital Paper’s stylus across its screen. This bothers some people more than others (me a lot), so try to find someone who will let you test it before you buy. Price: $999
So You Want To …
When there is a task you want to perform more efficiently, or an office product that you believe could improve your work life in some way, visiting stores and scouring the Web to determine the best solution doesn’t always make it to the top of to-do lists. Rather than go without, let Practice411™ do the work for you.
In the coming months, whether you wish to automate digital tasks, share files with clients and colleagues, or merely find a decent coffee maker for your office, we have you covered in this “So You Want To …” series of columns.
So, this month do you want to … read and edit or annotate documents on the go (or on
Apple iPad Air 2
The Air 2 is very thin (even thinner than the iPad Mini), very light, and very easy to use. It isn’t as powerful as the Surface Pro 3, but it will do just fine for reading and editing documents and email and offers plenty of apps designed specifically for on-the-go productivity. It is a bit more expensive than similarly equipped Android tablets, but tends to offer more apps made for attorneys, such as TrialPad. Price: $499 – $829
Apple iPad Mini Retina (aka iPad Mini 2) or iPad Mini 3
The iPad Mini offers much less screen real estate than the other options on this list, but if you will be spending more time reading documents and less time editing, the reduced weight and size will have you reaching for it far more often. The Mini 3 added only a touch sensor to the Mini 2, so get the 3 only if you need 64GB or more of storage (the 64GB and 128GB models now are only offered as Mini 3 models). Price: $299 – $729