11 Cool Uses for a Tablet Computer

by Carlos Portocarrero on 25 January 2012 5 comments
Photo: Lordcolus

Tablets have taken the world by storm, and it seems like everybody wants one. And why wouldn’t they? They’re sleek, they're cool, and you can take them anywhere. It’s a great way to carry around your music, pictures, and videos.

But other than that, how else are you going to use a tablet? Are you really going to drop $200–$500 for just another screen to stare at between commercial breaks? If you’re dead set on buying a tablet (or just trying to convince yourself it’ll be worth it), here are 15 cool ways to use it. (See also: Frugal Advice for the Gadget Addicted)

1. Second Monitor

Instead of spending an another $130 to get a second monitor, hook up your tablet. Adding another display is a great way to become more productive at home or at work — plus using a tablet as a monitor is easy.

2. Remote Control

It depends on the way you’re set up at home, but it's likely you can find an app that will let you control your TV and your sound system from your tablet. It’s already going to be on your lap, so why not take advantage?

3. Play Old School Games

From old-school Nintendo games to Playstation and Nintendo 64 titles, emulators exist for just about any system you can think of. You’re supposed to own the games you download, so make sure you look into that first. Contra here we come!

4. TV in the Car for Kids

Kids get restless in the car, even if it’s just a 30 minute ride. Instead of buying a portable DVD player, just fasten the tablet to the back of a headrest and boom — they get some entertainment, and you get some peace and quiet.

5. Cash Register

If you own a portable business or are just trying to sell the junk in your garage, taking credit cards will make it easier to sell out. You can take credit-card payments from your phone too if you want, but why not go for the big screen? Happy selling!

6. Order at Restaurants

It’s only a matter of time before restaurants use tablets to take your order. That means they don’t have to run around as much, and your food comes out faster. If you run a food establishment, take note!

7. Make Music

GarageBand is one way to make music on your tablet, but it isn’t the only one — Audiotool Sketch for Android is also out there.

8. Recipe Stand

My wife and I bought one of those cheap plastic cookbook stands, and we never use it. Why? Most of our recipes come from AllRecipes or an email someone sent us. So why not use the tablet as a recipe stand? It’s portable, and we can take right into the kitchen. You can get a fancy stand or just slip it into a Ziploc bag.

9. Picture Frame

Load it up with pictures, set it down in the living room, and let it work its magic — just make sure you aren’t sharing any “personal” pics.

10. Place to Keep All Your Manuals

Manuals suck. I have them for everything I’ve ever bought, and it’s a hassle. Most are available online, but bringing them up on the computer and then going back and forth to the thermostat or whatever it is I’m fixing is a hassle. Instead, put them in a folder on a tablet and boom — you’re done.

11. Textbook

Apple just changed the game with iBooks Textbooks, and I’m thinking this is just the start. Forget about lugging around all those heavy books that don’t play videos or music — textbooks on your tablet are the future.

Tablets aren't cheap, but if you want a deal you can always find one. Keep an eye on the Cheapskate blog and sites like Techbargains for good deals.

Do you have any other interesting ways to use a tablet?

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Guest's picture

Very creative! I recently read that only some tablets can be used as remote controls, so keep that in mind. If you want maximum usability - access to the most apps, a long battery life (for watching movies) - you are going to want to get a high-end tablet like the ipad or another 8 to 10-inch android tablet with full access to the Android market. It is amazing how much you can do with them. In expensive kitchen prototypes, I've even seen them mounted in cabinets as basically a family information center: calendar, recipes, schedules, communication, and media all in one place! Crazy!

Guest's picture
Guest

Portable TV. There are multiple applications that allow you to watch live TV (slingbox) as well as movies or TV (hulu, netflix).

Guest's picture
Buzz71

Awesome! I love the recipe stand idea. I'm going to try that tonight.

Another use is as an e-document repository ... I take photos of important documents and keep an electronic copy on the tablet.

Guest's picture

Great Article! I have an iPad and I love it, its great for reading and taking notes on long PDF documents (notability is by far the best application I've used for taking notes without using paper) that I have to read in school.

Guest's picture
Kaz

I recently upgraded to a newer tablet, and am considering mounting the old one in the kitchen to keep our family calendar more visible and readily updatable...