Prepare to have your mind blown by this week’s discussion of tablets and events! Just recently, we launched an episode about hardware in the world of events. The Event Tech Podcast strives to make your life as an event planner easier, so we’re back at it! And this time around, we’re getting down and dirty with the topic of tablets and events. Whether you own one or not, you’ll still want to give this episode a go.
Our lovely hosts Brandt Krueger and Will Curran have quite a few things to say about this topic. And if you’ve been following the podcast for a while, you know what these two know about event tech is no joke. So, let’s hear the gospel about tablets, shall we? Press play, it’s time for another awesome edition of the Event Tech Podcast!
At this point, Brandt and Will don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times they see planners on-site with “big, bulky, Dell computers”. Brandt truly believes there’s something to be said about “how much nicer their lives could be by getting into the world of tablets and two-in-ones”. Let’s go!
The Event Lifecycle
It’s really important to note that tablets and two-in-ones can be lifesavers in every single stage of event planning. For starters, “in that time leading up to the event, it’s easy, it’s mobile. We’re frequently dealing with the next event while we’re on an event. And so being able to grab the iPad, grab the Surface, any one of these tablet-type devices. Even if I just want to go have a drink in the lobby bar but maybe bang out some emails, not having to bring the full brick of the laptop down is huge”, says Brandt.
Tablets And Events: The Site Visit
“So let’s bring in, for example, the vet. Let’s bring in the site visit”, says Will. “They give you obviously the layouts and the maps and everything like that. And you start to walk through them. Well, sometimes those maps don’t quite make sense until you actually get on-site and on space. But imagine binge able to draw right on that plan as you’re doing it. Just a rough example of where everything’s going”.
Brandt agrees with the site visit part and goes on to add another benefit. “I was a handwritten notes guy for a long, long time”, he explains. “As soon as the iPad Pro, the original iPad Pro, came out with the pencil, that was the first device that was ever actually able to take my chicken scratch and turn it into text. So actual handwriting to text. That was then transformational as well. So going on those site visits and being able to chicken scratch notes and then easily translate that into physical typed text was huge”.
“That’s where it’s huge to be able to just have that in your hand. So you’re not having to run back to the tech table to look something up on the show flow”, says Brandt. “Or you’re not having to run back to the office every time you need to check on something. So being able to carry that with you in a way that’s not going to feel like you’re carrying a 10-pound weight around with you is enormously helpful once you’re engaged and on-site”.
“You still see a lot of planners running around with the binders”, he continues. “I mean, it’s kind of become a little bit of a joke now at this point. But also just think about how much paper you’re printing out, all that kind of stuff. All of that, at this point, can really easily be done with a tablet, whether it’s keeping your stuff in OneNote or you’re still using spreadsheets. So being able to have easy access to that information in a lightweight form factor is huge”. Will agrees, especially when it comes to printing things out, by adding “let’s get rid of paper. Events are changing so fast. Why do we not have living documents that are constantly changing, that are constantly updated?”.
You Can Literally Run An Event From Your Tablet
“As we ‘re using more of the event technology that has these data points and things like that, so your registration system portal, your audience engagement technology, being able to add polling and add stuff on the fly quickly and easily while you’re running around … I was working an event for an audience engagement company. At one point, I kind of just stopped and was like, “Holy crap, I’m running all of this from my iPad”, Brandt recalls. And you can too!
One of Brandt’s realizations was that he could control a presentation from anywhere in the world. And on this topic, Will says that “one of the interesting things is that tablets really are great for presentations. I remember the first time I used the Keynote presenter app. It allows you to see your notes and everything like that. A lot of times for speakers, having a tablet with you can be really game-changing and really, really cool. I thought one of the cool things that it allowed you to do too was it allows you to draw on the slides. Gone are the days of laser pointers and pointing at specific stuff in slides”.
Tablets And Events: There’s Something For Everyone!
“I think another really cool use case is we’re finding is a lot of audio engineers, lighting engineers, video engineers are really highly relying on tablets”, says Will. “So for example, now audio engineers can go around and control the audio board from their iPad. They can adjust the levels. So what that means is instead of them being stuck in the back corner or the back center or wherever it is, they can go down to the front row. They can go to the fifth row. The weird corner that someone else is sitting in. They can hear every single aspect of it, and then during the event, they can get up and leave the audio board. Same thing for lighting guys”.
“I think we far too often get stuck in our text emails”, he adds. “We get stuck in our images and pictures. You’re starting to see a few drawings, right? And maybe scanned documents. But one thing that we really miss out, I think, is the use of video, too, and this idea of screen capture and an annotation”. Brandt agrees and adds that he was “blown away by the power of the pen. I mean, I was surprised how much I’ve enjoyed having a stylus, having a pen on these devices”.
How Tablets Impact Your Attendee Experience
“There’s a really good use case for attendees to have tablets as well”, says Brandt. “One very effective use that I’ve seen of that is in some of the more high end financial and medical meetings that I’ve worked on, where there’s a little bit higher security and you don’t want people tweeting things and you don’t want people putting things on Instagram and things like that. One of the more effective ways of doing that is to find ways to keep their phones in their pockets”.
“It’s actually not that expensive to rent an iPad these days”, he explains. “So you walk into the room and each attendee has an iPad that’s got the mobile app preloaded, got the schedule preloaded, note-taking capabilities, all that stuff right there. So that people aren’t having to use their own devices, and they’re less likely to get sucked into other things. They’re less likely to post things”.
When it comes down to talking about the technology in itself, you have the obvious ones. The iPad which, according to Brandt,
“if all you want is basic pen support and handwriting recognition and being able to doodle on things, the iPad nothing, so not the Pro, not the Mini, not the Air or anything like that; the iPad nothing is a great device”. A little piece of advice, though. While the basic iPad is a great device for basic functionalities, don’t “mess around with a $50 Android tablet. I would not go low end on the Android tablets”, adds Brandt.
Then you have your two-in-ones. “The Samsung Chromebook that I had, I think it was called the Samsung Chromebook Pro, I believe, was fantastic. It was snappy, it was fast. If you live in Chrome like I live in Chrome, as far as Gmail and all my widgets and add ons and all that kind of stuff”, says Will. “But again, if you have to do things like working with a lot of PowerPoints, you’re combining PowerPoints, you’re taking stuff from this one and mixing it with that one; you can’t do that on a Chromebook”.
“One of the problems, I think, with the two-in-one, the flipping kind, is that you end up kind of getting stuck in this having a keyboard always attached. It adds a little bit of weight to it”, he adds. “Another reason why it’s a downside too if you’re doing Chromebook, if you’re doing any sort of video editing, photo editing, or if you’re your an incessant tab-leaver opener”.
Brandt believes that two-in-ones are “a great way to kind of test the waters. I mean, that’s basically what I did, is that I had that nice HP Spectre two-in-one fold-over. And I just found myself really liking the fold-over tablet mode a lot more than I thought I was going to. Like, “You know? I think I could get away with having just the Surface and the detachable keyboard”. And when it comes down to customer support, Will advises that “if you’re looking maybe and you like this convertible form factor, I would highly recommend considering doing a Microsoft device because you get the support of the Microsoft store”.
The Future Of Tablets And Events
Because keeping you up to speed is a must, Brandt and Will jump on what the future might look like for tablets and events. One thing Will is really excited about is the Surface ProX. “So this new Microsoft Surface X looks probably half as thick as the current Pro, and it’s supposed to be just a screamer, too”, Brandt explains. The things that I’m going to kind of wait and see a little bit are the difference between a laptop desktop processor versus a phone processor. So it’s just a different beast, it’s a different animal. This new Surface Pro X is a mobile chip. I’m pretty sure it’s Qualcomm”.
“Now, so we’re going to be putting Windows on this totally new chip architecture. I’m just going to reserve judgment to make that it’s running properly and all those kinds of things before I rush out and buy one”, he adds. But he is still “resisting the urge to run out and get this thing”. We’ll just have to wait until Will gets his and gives Brandt the run-down!
Whether or not you’re a tech buff, you’ve probably heard all the fuss around foldable devices. Well, in their event, Microsoft also released two foldable devices, the smaller Duo and the Neo. “But it’s not like the Galaxy Fold where it’s all one screen. They’re actually dual-screen devices”, explains Brandt.
Will is excited to see how this will translate into the world of events. “That’s going to be a new version that’s designed for dual-screen. Then there’s the Surface Duo, which is the smaller device, which is actually running Android. It’s like an Android tablet, essentially. But either way, no matter what the operating system uses, obviously one’s more Android apps. The other one’s more for Windows. I’m really excited because of the idea of multi-tasking abilities. It can be really, really powerful when you’re in an event”. For example, “having the agenda open on one side, and maybe attendee list on the other, on another screen. So then that way you can kind of work off both of them. Or maybe have some stats related to your event, and on the left-hand side, you’re actually doing some messaging back and forth and things like that. I think it’s super-duper cool”.
To finalize this episode on events and tablets, we leave you with Brandt’s wise words and solid advice. “There are a lot of options out there. If you’re stuck behind the big clunky Dell laptop that we see far too often, start to explore. Start to try these things. I think we’re just trying to tell you out there, don’t be afraid to try stuff. And that at this point in time, there’s a form factor that’s going to work for you, and there’s a form factor that’s going to improve your life, chances are. Don’t be afraid to use these different form factors”. And that’s it for today. Don’t forget to tune in next week for more event tech talk!
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