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Survey results: Laptops, tablets and phones - together or apart?

Today's slice of our Australian CNET survey digs into how we use key devices in combination, and how we make them do what we need them to each day.

This week we are taking interesting insights from our recent survey of Australian CNET readers about the tech they carry with them and use each day. Tomorrow we get into some juicy questions around brand loyalty, but today we focus on the way we're using phones, tablets, and laptops -- how we use them together and the features we're opting for to get the most from our mix of key devices.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Device Overlap

Through our initial questions on which devices everyone carries, we were able to drill deeper into the mix of devices we carry. We know from our basic analysis that practically everyone is carrying a phone now, so what else has been deemed necessary to carry with that central device? How many people who said they carry a personal laptop also said they carried a work laptop? Or how many people are carrying both a tablet and a laptop?

Taking a look at the combination of work and personal laptops, it should come as little surprise that only one percent of those surveyed are using both a personal and a work laptop. Either you have a daily use laptop through your work (15 percent) or you have a laptop of your own (32 percent), you almost never need both.

This is not a recommended method for multiple device usage. CNET

We also see that tablet users have made similarly obvious choices, with just two percent using two personal tablets in large and mini sizes, and two percent again using both a work and a personal tablet together.

The overlap between carrying tablets and laptops in union becomes more interesting. Looking at those who carry any tablet (52 percent) and any laptop (46 percent), we find 25 percent of people carrying both a tablet and a laptop. It's hard to know whether one in four is a high or a low number at this point in the story of portable computing, but it will be interesting to see how this number changes in years ahead.

To close out the question of overlapping devices, we also asked whether the laptop people were using is a hybrid. The industry has been trying to get two-in-one devices to take root over the past two years, so has that achieved anything in the daily routines of our readers? For those who told us they used a laptop, we found one in ten personal and work laptops were identified as being a hybrid device, at 10 percent for personal and 11 percent for work. The numbers are still quite slender, but not negligible either. With Intel's new Core M chips set to deliver tablet thin laptops for a no-compromise combination, it will be interesting to see how these numbers evolve in 2015.

Extending functionality

While tablets seem to be seeing slowed growth in 2014, within our CNET survey they have shown to be edging out laptops in people's daily routines. So we also wondered whether people are commonly carrying keyboard add-ons to use their laptops as de facto laptop solutions.

It turns out that this is a fairly common solution. Of all tablet users, 26 percent are packing an additional keyboard to do some serious typing when they need to. Of those with a work tablet, 48 percent are carrying a keyboard, showing the work mode of use is definitely enhanced by having a keyboard at hand.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (AT&T)
Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Wi-Fi or 4G? Your choice. Josh Miller/CNET

We also took at look at whether users were buying tablets with Wi-Fi only or with 3G/4G connectivity built into the device. The results follow a similar line to keyboards, with work users more likely to have included the always connected option. Work tablets were reported to include 3G/4G 47 percent of the time. Large personal tablets reported at 40 percent, still quite a significant proportion of all tablets, while small tablets were including such connectivity in 27 percent of devices. Perhaps the smaller size option is treated as most commonly used in combination with a phone hotspot, or is treated as a more casual device where a cheaper price is more important than loading in those extra features.

Given how many devices are personal instead of work supplied, we also asked whether people are allowed to use their personal devices on their work networks. Whether for security reasons or alleged time wasting prevention, it's interesting to know how many people are given the all clear to use their personal gear while at work and be granted the privilege of using workplace bandwidth.

In this regard we found a very high proportion of devices are being used in this way. 75 percent of laptops, 75 percent of phones and 63 percent of tablets were reported as acceptable on work networks.

Operating systems

While we'll look at brands more closely tomorrow, a quick look at operating systems helps understand the context for some of the above numbers.

Surface: a little different to most 2-in-1 options. Sarah Tew/CNET

With specific reference to Microsoft Surface, we listed it specifically as a tablet in our survey information. It was listed in one percent of small personal tablet responses, 11 percent of large personal tablets, and 19 percent of work tablets. So the Surface is having some impact on the numbers above.

In wider terms, we found operating system distributions showing quite different results based on the different tablet size options. For small tablets, Android was dominant at 56 percent of devices, Apple's iOS at 34 percent, and Windows at 8 percent. For large tablets, iOS leaps to 71 percent, while Android and Windows share 14 percent each of the remaining share. Stepping into the work domain (which was almost entirely of the large size category based on yesterday's initial results) we see iOS still dominant at 59 percent of tablets, Windows take a much larger 34 percent of tablets, and Android shaved down to just 6 percent.

For laptops, our survey showed 82 percent of work-supplied laptops are running Windows, with 18 percent running Apple OS X. For personal laptops, the Mac more than doubles to take 41 percent of machines, while 55 percent are running Windows. Personal also reported four percent 'other' which would suggest a mix of Linux and Chromebook options.

Tomorrow: The Brand Wars

With these slices of the market in mind, tomorrow we look closer at the brands people are using, as well as, in the phone market, the brands they intend to buy next. Is everyone buying an iPhone this week already an iPhone owner, or are some users moving to iOS from Android? And is Samsung staying strong as the leader of the Android pack?