Monday, December 30, 2013

Owning a tablet in medical school

As we approach the end of the year, I want to thank each and every one of you for your readership, especially my close followers.  I hope the new year brings you happiness, success, and personal growth.

For the past couple of months, I've owned a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tablet that I used for clinical duties and also studying on my rotations in med school.

So why did I get a tablet?

Portability and always being connected.  It's easier to carry on my person and thus, harder to get stolen or misplaced.

Anyway, here's a short, not quite technical review.

I went with Samsung because I live in the Google/Android environment and I bought a lot of apps on the Google Play Store I didn't want to have to buy again on an Apple iPad.

Apple is notorious for keeping customers on a short leash as far as accessories and memory expansion goes.  I can charge my Samsung with any of the 10 microSD chargers of different brands in my house, and I can pop in a memory storage card from any company, when I can't with Apple.  I use Squaretrade which is so far a hassle-free security plan for drops and spills.  5/5 stars for freedom.

Size:  (Specs here)  This thing is approximately 1 pound without a case, and 8 inches.  I use it caseless when I'm going from operating room to operating room because I store it in my back pocket.  If I dropped it though, I know it'll take some damage (and it has, usually the screen is the most sensitive in a drop).  In the clinic, I put it inside a case and type patient notes with the keyboard that came with it.  5 stars for portability.

Work:  I use the wifi capability with Google Drive, and have all my email accounts synched.  Battery life is decent, but I charge it daily because of how much I use it, since I'm almost constantly on it.  Battery life is great compared to my Galaxy S3 when Sync is on.

I love the S-Note app where I can write with a pen, and the 2-window mode lets me have a PDF open with S-Note alongside each other so I can write notes.  You can also annotate a PDF with it. There's also a swipe-typing input method with a pen which you can do if you don't want to type.

4 stars for productivity, just because I wish this thing came with a keyboard case, and because the EMR the hospitals I work at displays really scrunched together and not with the same user-friendliness as a laptop/desktop.  Also because I hate how I hit the Back and Menu buttons by accident because there's not a lot of room.  You also need a USB-to-microSD adapter if you want to use flash drives.

Fun:  Netflix is great and I love having Spotify on it for study sessions.  The speakers sound just slightly better than my Samsung S3 phone.  You won't get deep rich Harman Kardon type of sound from them, but it's better than nothing.  Best if plugged into a speaker system or earphones.  Good quality sound then.

Bonuses: Kies Air is an okay way to transfer files from your computer to tablet without USB connection, but it's slow compared to transferring via Bluetooth.  It's so much faster.  I also like how any app you bought on the Google Play Store, you can download onto your tablet as well for free.  Also has GPS capability.  Has a camera on the front (5MP) and back (1.3MP) , but I just use my 8MP phone for photos now really.

Compared to other tablets:  I trust Samsung and have had a good experience with their hardware. I don't think the plastic back of my Note 8 is a problem, and it only makes it lighter and more portable.  It won't fall out of my scrubs' back pocket anyway.

Personified, Samsung is the educated, practical girlfriend who stays interesting, while Apple is the more attractive, yet controlling and restricting girlfriend who just kind of sits there and costs you money.  Apple is the kind to keep bringing you the same birthday present year after year while expecting you to stay excited about it.  Samsung is forward-looking and a little more serious on the processing power while Apple is pretty complacent.

Quick note on battery life:  Don't fall into the trap of thinking "oh, this one tablet has shorter battery life, it's inferior."  Ask why it has shorter battery life: is it storage, or is it a high performance beast?  I'd take performance over battery life any day: outlets are everywhere.

Bottom Line:
Portability, snappy processor, and the ability to expand storage space easily makes this a great tool for any medical student or physician.

The deep stylus integration lets you hand-write, annotate, circle, underline, etc on study material and makes using the tablet more precise and natural (since we're so used to using tools).

Anyway, I hope this makes you a smarter shopper!  Happy New Year!


  1. thanks! Happy new year to you as well. I hope this is a great year for you

  2. Outstanding presentation here.Thank you very much to share such an experience with us about medical tablet that having amazing features such as Portability,easier to carry, etc.

  3. Hello sir, if possible i want to see some notes you write on galaxy note 8 as a medical student. I am planjing to join medical school next year and have an idea to write lecture notes with galaxy note 8. Do you think it's a good idea? Thank you.