Next week I’m sending my first tablet back to Ciudad Real. It’s a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 — it has wifi but it doesn’t have any phone capabilities, which I didn’t have any need for when I bought it. I actually got a fair bit of crap for buying a tablet, because poor people don’t deserve nice things and also should be held to a higher moral standard regarding how they spend their money. Or I’m not really poor. Depends on who you ask.
The thing is that my mom and sister and I needed something, and I couldn’t afford to buy them — us — a new computer, so tablets were the next best thing. I already had my new MacBook Air to do my visual art work on, so a tablet covered most of our needs without being as pricy as a laptop.
There really are so many tablets out there, and unlike my MacBook, I didn’t feel any need to go Apple with this. I was more than happy to get something affordable that would do the job(s) I needed it to do. And there were so many options. There are so many options. You can explore some of the range Tesco carries here.
Back in February, I wanted a tablet to use Instagram for my blog and business, and read books at night — technically I wanted an e-reader, but I couldn’t justify buying an e-reader when my mom and sister wanted something they could watch TV and videos on, and my sister wanted to be able to chat with her friends without spending text money. The Samsung Galaxy 3 wasn’t compatible with WhatsApp, but she’s an eighteen-year-old girl: she made do with Kik.
When I moved, I took the tablet with me. I didn’t have a phone, and I couldn’t depend on my laptop when I was lugging two carry-on suitcases and a hefty laptop bag all by myself. I was supposed to meet a friend at Stansted and also, like, get myself from the train station in Ciudad Real (my mom and sister dropped me off there) to the train station in Madrid (Atocha) to the subway to Barajas and onto my plane, then off my plane and through baggage claim and to the Stansted Express platform to Liverpool Street. The tablet was, in fact, useless because I couldn’t get on any wifi at Stansted, but luckily Annemari and I had timed things right and I didn’t miss her when she came out of baggage claim.
Still, I used that tablet extensively for the months after, the way I imagine most people use a tablet or smartphone in a strange place: all of the mapping out routes, and Instagram, and taking selfies, and social media. And playing games, obviously. I’m stuck in both Candy Crush and Pet Rescue right now on levels I don’t like and it’s bringing me down. I read fanfic regularly and I read the occasional book. I fingerpaint “calligraphy” (read: scribbles that I then transfer to my laptop, vectorize in Illustrator and use for logo work. It’s much easier than doing it with the trackpad).
I haven’t touched the tablet since I got my LG G3 smartphone; the smartphone does the same things I used the tablet for and it does them more smoothly, taking up less space, and allowing you to access things even when there’s no wifi. Now that I live in London and actually get out of the house every day, it comes in handy. It’s particularly convenient for mapping out routes, figuring out where you are, everything to do with public transport. Last night I was reading fanfic on it and found myself missing the tablet a bit, but then again I wasn’t wearing my glasses. I’ll live.
It was always my intention to return the Samsung Galaxy tab home when I got a replacement, only the elderly lady my mom takes care of — the one who put in the last 20€ towards my laptop, and who gave me one of the suitcases I brought with me — got there first and bought my mom one.
You see, the desktop computer in my family’s flat is old. Really old and really tired. My sister inherited my MacBook from late 2007, which I had to crowdfund a replacement for because I couldn’t do anything on it, let alone work as a designer, which has since become my main source of income. I can’t imagine doing the type of photography work I’ve been doing and having to edit it on my laptop. It would outright not let me. It would crash the second it sniffed a RAW file, which is one of the reasons it took me so long to start shooting RAW.
I can’t do any of that on a tablet. I can barely type on those things. I’m not a touchscreen kind of person. But my sister is, and my mom will take anything that actually works, unlike the desktop computer. Besides, with a tablet, she doesn’t have to fight my father for the TV.
Also, she can skype me. We tried to skype with the old desktop computer, and it was impossible. It wasn’t even worth a try with my old laptop; that thing shuts down as soon as you put heat on it, and video is massive heat. Maybe in winter, but I moved in May. My mom really needed a way to be in touch with me that wouldn’t cost ridiculous amounts of money in phone bills, and the elderly lady she cares for — María — came through for her. It was beautiful, honestly.
So you’d think maybe they wouldn’t need the first tablet back, but of course, my sister still exists. She hoards the new tablet just like she hoarded mine, and it’s not really fair anyway for her to have absolutely no working tech at her availability when I literally haven’t touched the old tablet in two months.
Besides, hoarding may well be a family trait, when it comes to mid-size tech bits. My mom and I took turns checking out the better (it wasn’t good) e-reader that the public library had available to patrons, one of us every three weeks for the better part of… a lot of months. Let’s just say it was a lot of months. I got to test the poetry e-book I put together on it. But let’s also say I got a lot read. The e-reader may have been terrible, but at least I wasn’t constantly distracted by other apps. It gave me just the right amount of choice — the choice of having a whole library available to me, but no work or social media or marketing options around the page.
So I’m giving up my tablet, and I’m a little hesitant because it’s a bigger surface for fingerpainting than the LG G3 — but not by much. All I need is a touchscreen pen so I can do proper handwriting on the thing. My sister will be able to use Kik on the Samsung Galaxy and WhatsApp on the new tablet, and my mom will be able to read and watch TV on either. And I have my smartphone for all my off-laptop needs. One day maybe I — or someone else — will get my sister the smartphone she so badly wants.
Meanwhile, I still want an e-reader.
Do you have a tablet? If so, were you an early adopter or did you get it more recently? If not, do you think you’ll ever get one?
This post was written for Tesco.