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With the release of the Nexus 7 tablet and the phenomenal popularity of the IPad 2, it’s beginning to seem like tablet computers are become a standard device for business. But if you already have a laptop, desktop and smartphone, is there really a need to have a tablet as well?

There are strong arguments both for and against, but I believe that if you’re unconvinced by either the hype of them being a replacement for every other computerised device, or the slating that they are nothing more than an expensive accessory, then you should weigh up the following points.

When would you use it?

If you’re a freelancer, it’s most likely that your base will be your home, where you will have a desktop or laptop that you use for work. If your desktop/laptop does everything you need for your work, where will a tablet come into that?

The most obvious answer is time spent travelling – which we typically do a lot of, when meeting clients. Lugging a laptop with you on train journeys can be a chore, whereas a tablet is light, simple to carry, and generally doesn’t involve trying to find a seat with a table and a power socket, and are logistically a lot easier to use for work than a smartphone.

They are also great for being able to deal with work matters when you’re just away from your desk – even if that’s just when you’re lounging in front of the TV in the evenings, but want to keep an eye on your email. One thing’s for certain – it’s a lot easier to use a tablet than it is balancing an overheating laptop on your knees whilst researching outsourced IT services providers like ArcIT, or trying to write a detailed email on a smartphone.

What would you use it for?

There are apps for anything you could ever dream to do on a tablet, but the fact is, not all of them are fully kitted out for freelancers.

Word-processing apps on tablet, for example, are almost completely useless unless you purchase an external keyboard. Writing a 100 word email is one thing, but trying to type a 600 word blog post with one hand is a completely different ball game – and you may as well just be using your laptop.

However, the 4G connectivity that now comes with most tablets makes it an excellent tool for keeping on top of social media, emails and browsing useful sites such as blogs on the move. Smartphones may have access to the internet, but slow load speeds and horrendously designed mobile sites make for a maddening experience.

Additionally, presenting your portfolio on a tablet can place you in the front running for potential clients – it simply makes you look more professional, and subconsciously reassures them that you are readily available and willing to work.

Will it increase your productivity?

The bottom line of mobile devices is that they increase our availability to clients and the outside world, in theory making us more productive. They mean we don’t have to be hunched over a computer to pick up emails and to do research – a task which tablets are undoubtedly the best mobile interface for.

However, in practise, tablets are often used as a time-wasting tool, with most app sales being games. If you decide that a tablet would be useful to you for work, make it solely a work tool, otherwise you may find you spend more time playing Angry Birds than researching work opportunities.

Are you a freelancer with a tablet? Do you think it’s a great investment, or do you barely use it for work?

Read more: The Tablet Craze and Five Reasons Desktops Aren’t Going Anywhere