I’ve been a laptop guy for, well, as long as I can remember. I think probably everyone reading this is. The thought of not having a laptop is likely something that seems almost impossible to most of you, I’m guessing. And I was the same way a month ago.
It’s important to note that my experience won’t be the same for those of you that are programmers or designers where you need complex software to do your job. But for anyone else I think what I’m about to describe could be a solution – if you’re looking for one. I wasn’t, it just kind of found me.
I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with the iPad in the past. Truth be told, after a few months in to the original iPad, I wasn’t a huge fan. Then I liked it again. Then I put it down again. I even state in this post in October of 2010 that the iPad absolutely IS NOT a replacement for a laptop. I really couldn’t figure out how it was going to fit into my life.
As the iPad 2 came with more features and functionality, and as apps continued to get better and better, I began to get more interested in how a tablet might be relevant in my life. And I have many friends who LOVE their iPad’s, using them all the time, so I was pretty intrigued. I decided to push the limits and see exactly what was possible today with the iPad.
I decided to force myself to only use the iPad 2 for a week. No laptop, no desktop, just the iPad. With a bluetooth keyboard. That was a critical component to add to the mix. Without a keyboard, the iPad is a really nice device but not very usable in a business/work setting other than the occasional note-taking.
For iPad 2 bluetooth keyboards, I tried them all, and landed on the Zagg ZAGGFOLIO but I didn’t like the case, so I just pulled the keyboard right out of it (see pic below). Now I travel with the iPad (caseless) and the bluetooth keyboard that I plucked from the ZAGGFOLIO. And I love that. The keyboard is small and easily fits in my bag, and serves as a stand when I want to watch something on the iPad without holding the device in my hand. And its a great feeling keyboard, too.
What I learned through the process was that the iPad 2, with a bluetooth keyboard, is a very versatile and effective device (again, in my life, may be different for yours). I realized that I have different use cases for when I want a computer and when I break those down, an iPad 2 and a desktop serve all of my purposes.
Here’s a breakdown of the times/settings I need a computer, and what device(s) I am going to be using:
At home, chilling — iPad
When I’m at home, mostly I want to sit back and read or watch content. Occasionally I will reply to a quick email or send a tweet, but I don’t need to write long-form content all that much. So the iPad works just great for that.
At home, working — iPad with bluetooth keyboard 75%, desktop 25%
I need a keyboard. Since we have an iMac at home, I can easily use that to work. However, having now used a keyboard with an iPad for a few weeks, I find this to be very easy, especially when working on email or documents. Since blogging on the iPad still isn’t brilliant, I often prefer to use the desktop for that when its available. Btw, more on my blogging process here, as there are times I use the iPad and times it just won’t work 100% for WordPress.
At work, at my desk — desktop
When I’m at my desk I’m going to be using a desktop, likely a Mac Mini. No real reason to lug a laptop around, back and forth from home, when I already have a desktop at the house and I have an iPad for in-between. I don’t think I’ve had a desktop for ten years at the office, always a laptop, so this will be a bit of an experiment. And thankfully with tools like iCloud and Dropbox, I can pretty much access any of my files no matter where I am.
At work, in meetings — iPad with bluetooth keyboard
When I’m in a meeting, I can easily take notes on the iPad and review documents. I find it too cumbersome to bring a laptop from meeting to meeting, but the main benefit is the battery life of the iPad. I can use it all day and not have to worry about lugging around a power cord for a laptop.
Traveling — iPad with bluetooth keyboard
When I travel its usually for a client meeting or pitch, to meet with folks in our other offices, or to attend a conference. On a plane its very easy to crank through email on an iPad with a keyboard. Then when I want to sit back and read, I just put the keyboard away and hold the iPad in my hands. It’s great to be able to have that ability, to dock and undock depending on my needs.
So for the foreseeable future, I’ll be using my iPad 2 with a bluetooth keyboard as a laptop replacement. Granted, everyone who knows me will attest to the fact that my preferences change like the wind, but for now I’m digging my laptop-less life.