How to make your iPad or Android tablet work like a real PC

Here's how to turn your tablet into a productivity powerhouse

Want to turn your tablet into a productivity machine like a PC or Mac? There's no need to give up power and flexibility just because you're working on a less-expensive, portable device. Here's how to do it.

Get the right tablet

If you want your tablet to be a true productivity machine, you need to make sure you first buy the right tablet. That means a good sized screen, and enough power to run what you want. So avoid smaller tablets like the iPad Mini and the Google Nexus 7 in favor of full-blown ones. The iPad is a good bet, of course. For Android tablets, the Google Nexus 10 is a great deal. And the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is also a solid bet, because it also comes with a stylus. As for Windows, the Dell Venue 11 Pro, and the Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 are good choices.

Get the right keyboard

Those most obvious problem with tablets when it comes to productivity is how difficult it is to type using onscreen keyboards. So get a keyboard. Logitech's Bluetooth keyboards, the Easy-Switch Keyboard K811 and the Illuminated Keyboard K810 are good choices. Fellow ITWorld blogger Kevin Purdy also recommends the The Adonit Writer Plus for iPads. For the Surface, the Touch Cover 2 and Type Cover 2 are great keyboard-cover combos. I'm a particularly big fan of the Type Cover 2.

Get the right apps

Just because you're using a tablet doesn't mean you can get full-blown productivity tools, notably office suites -- and you can get them for free. One of my favorite iPad suites for Office is HopTo. (For more details, see Wow! This free iPad productivity app will make you forget Office exists.) There are plenty of other excellent free office suites, as I outline in my blog Who needs Microsoft Office? 7 great free office suites for PCs, Macs, iOS and Android. QuickOffice is great for iPads and Android tablets, and Polaris Office is a very solid suite for Android.

Live in the cloud

Tablets typically won't give you enough on-board storage for all your files. But in today's cloud-based world, that's not a problem, because cloud services such as Google Docs, Dropbox, Box.Net, Evernote, and SugarSync give you plenty of storage. If you go that route, an even better bet is to use tools that manage multiple cloud-based services. Check out my blog post "5 great free tools to manage all your cloud storage" for all the details. ZeroPC is a favorite as are doo, hojoki, Primadesk, and the Chrome extension Cloud Save.

Tap remotely into your PC

It's not likely that you'll be able to give up your PC forever. So you'll want to be able to tap into it via remote control software. There are some excellent free choices out there for iOS and Android tablets, including TeamViewer, Chrome Remote Desktop, Splashtop Remote Desktop, and VNC. For fuller reviews, see 5 free alternatives to LogMeIn.

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