Latest Thoughts on iPad

Early last year, I posted Thoughts on iPad from a Slightly Disappointed Fanboi. I later posted a followup, Followup on Thoughts on iPad from a Slightly Disappointed Fanboi. In these posts I explained how initially I was hoping to replace my (then large and heavy MacBook Pro 15″) laptop with the iPad, and how I tried to do so, and eventually gave up, and then eventually my use of the iPad declined.

Since getting an 11″ MacBook Air several months ago, I take it everywhere–it is almost as portable as the iPad, and so much more useful for me. Since I have an iPhone and they now allow tethering, I can connect the Air to the Internet via the iPhone at any time. Now days go by without me using the iPad. Basically I use it only for reading books now. I have even considered switching to a Kindle for book reading, since it is lighter, smaller, and has better battery life. But I still prefer the iPad for books, over the Kindle, since the iPad (a) has touch; (b) smooth scrolling etc.; (c) color; (d) greater flexibility for book reading (I can read nook, PDF, iBook, etc. formats on it); and (e) it has email and browsing and apps and games and music and movies that can be used too, on occasion.

But the iPhone has amazing resolution now, with retina display, and the same processor and iOS as the iPad, so it can do almost everything the iPad can do; the main limitation is the smaller screen makes movies and book reading a bit worse than on the iPad–but not much. So the iPhone is basically a mini-iPad, and having it plus the Air is really all I need, especially at it permits the Air to tether. (Actually, a larger iphone would be ideal and an almost perfect iPad replacement, for me.) So, sometimes I do not even take the iPad along with me on vacation and trips, since I have my Air and my iPhone, and it’s a pain to carry a third device (plus, when wife or kid are traveling with me, they usually have their iPad so I can borrow theirs for movies or NetFlix or books–or just use my iPhone or Air). However, when I can, I do like it on long plane trips for movies and books, though, again, I can use the iPhone or Air for movies, and the iPhone for books, in a pinch, though the battery life of the iPad on plane trips is a plus (except that nowadays more and more planes are adding power for a laptop); sometimes I take a Hypermac external battery for the Air for long plane trips, meaning I have so many gadgets in my travel backpack, that the iPad is just extra.

So, for me, the bottom line is: the advent of the MacBook Air 11″ has given me the full computing power I need, in a near-iPad size. I would love to be able to replace the Air with an iPad since it is more portable and has better battery, does not crash or slow down, and is better for movies and books (and is cheaper), but my own usage just does not permit it. I doubt it ever will because of the limitations of the iPad form factor. Even as the software and apps improve over time and product generations, it will just be too limiting for the kind of uses I make (lots of document editing, cutting and pasting, multitasking, and heavy use of keyboard). If I had a lighter use case, I think I could use the iPad as my main portable machine–people that do not do a lot of text input or editing can make the switch, I think.

For example, as I noted in my last post, I have some friends for whom the iPad has almost replaced their laptops/notebooks. One of them uses it almost exclusively in his business. He has it linked in with his company’s computer systems, and he can check status reports, emails, etc., all with his iPad. It’s great for him. For a specialized use like this that does not require a lot of document editing, I can see this replacing a laptop. Another is a lawyer who takes it on business trips and vacations instead of a laptop–he uses it to surf, watch media, check emails, and display/read documents. He never likes to do a lot of heavy document editing on the road, so it does no bug him not to have a laptop. For people who are light computer users–say, my parents–I could see the iPad being their only or main computer, too.

I think the iPad is gorgeous and well-designed, especially iPad 2. I suspect it will be the best pad-type device for some time. But for heavy text-inputers/editors like me, it’s becoming less necessary. I doubt I’ll upgrade to the iPad 2 or even iPad 3, as the first model is fine for me for the book reading and occasional video use I make of it. If anything, I could see switching to a dedicated book reader instead of iPad, if it was as good as the iPad on flexibility of book format and movies. But I don’t see anything like that coming for a while.

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  • Should I take my iPhone or my iPad or my Mac Air, when I’m flying through the atmosphere at 600 mph in climate controlled comfort while sipping on a cocktail? Oh, the crushing dilemas of living in this cruel modern world. (Sarcasm, at least a little.)

  • I don’t have anything against the iPad, but it just seems like a LOT of money for what you get. My wifi Android tablet ran me $130 and does the things I want it to do (as with your iPad, mostly reading books).
    I just got a new Mac, too. Er, well, new to me. It’s a 2006 model Mac Mini, jumped up to 2Gb of RAM and running Leopard instead of Tiger. 😉

    • I am not too familiar w/ the other tablets. From what I’ve seen and read none of them are anywhere near as good as the iPad, and most of them cost about as much. However if you find one for that big of a discount and it’s sufficient for the limited uses, then I can see that being an option, if the cost difference matters. For me, the smoother integration with Apple ecosystem plus other advantages makes the extra price worth it for me. But honestly, if I lost my ipad tomorrow I do not think I would buy another. We have two other ipads in the family that I could use on occasion. And I might just get a nook color or kindle for book reading. The problem is I have a huge PDF/epub book library so would really want a book reader that could let me easily add those things too.

      In any case I’m sure the Android devices will gradually get better, unless Apple, Microsoft, and Motorola kill them with patents!

  • Tom, congrats on the Mac upgrade.

    As for the iPad, I’m a newbie. I bought mine and have just plumbed the surface of its capacity. I have the Kindle app, the iBook app, Pages, Skype, etc … though I haven’t got Skype up and running yet.

    For the money, in historical terms, it seems magnificent. I’ve watched TV shows and started reading several books. Compared to my first Mac, at nearly $2000, this is a deal! I tried the Kindle, as an e-reader, and – though I liked the e-ink tech as a low-key solution to the “problem” of battery life – I hated the button arrangement, much preferring the touch screen iPad business.

    I tried the Kobo, and though it was not as crazily designed as the Kindle, it was still clunky. Using it would be like wearing underwear on the outside of one’s pants: Not merely pointless, but a fashion faux pas.

    Ultimately, though, the iPad’s extra functionality – have you SEEN Garage Band? there’s nothing like that out there, anywhere, for any thing! – tipped me over the scale.

    Unlike Stephan, I have no illusions about it being able to take up all my workload. Working in Pages, so far, has not tempted me to give up my computers! But for a few tasks, it seems perfect:

    1. checking email, in a hurry
    2. Web surfing
    3. Watching videos (it’s almost better than a big screen TV! really.)
    4. Reading ePubs
    5. Reading my HUGE unread PDF collection
    6. video conferencing
    7. presentation aid
    8. music with GarageBand

    In all these things, the iPad is superior to my MacBook Pro. I use my actual computers mainly because I’m sitting down to work, and activity slides over to the other. My hope is that I’ll take more reading time, because now I can do more while lying in the grass, in the shade, or in bed, or in an easy chair.

    I’m old, you know. The iPad seems designed for oldsters like me.

    • Agree w/ these comments. It is a magnificent device. And for heavier than light email use, an extra keyboard can help alot. If I were willing to do without the ability to do heavy editing on the road or whatever, it would be perfect (though, again, 75% of its uses are available on the iPhone too). But I am just too impatient!

      I only have iPad 1 so have not seen Garage Band on it yet…