iPad as Laptop Replacement Experiment

I wasn’t planning on doing this until January. But, an injury to my Macbook Air is making me move up the date of this experiment. After Andrew Hyde’s experience traveling with just his iPad to Asia earlier this year, I’ve been toying with the idea that the iPad could replace my laptop. Now, I’m actually on day one of this experiment.
Last night, while laying in bed, I moved my laptop to rearrange some blankets. When I came back to it, I saw several bright, and colorful vertical lines on the display. It’s not the first time this has happened to me with a laptop. So, I was bummed to see it. It likely means a new display. And it just passed the one year mark of purchase. And no, I didn’t buy AppleCare for it. So, that means I’ll have to foot the bill for a replacement display myself. Or I could sell it as is on eBay or Craigslist. For now, it’s sitting at home at my desk, acting like a desktop Mac, connected to an external display. But, before I go any further, I’ll tell you what I was originally planning. And hopefully I’ll get there as soon as I figure out what I’ll do with the laptop.
The iPad is very capable. But, as Andrew Hyde found out on his trip, it does have limitations. Some of those limitations are now gone. For instance, Andrew found that he needed to hook his up to a computer to reactivate it. With iOS5 and iCloud, that’s no longer the case. You really don’t need to plug it into a Mac or PC to activate it, update it or back it up. And it doesn’t sound like multitasking was in place back then. Maybe I’ll send him an email asking if he had other insight into this kind of mobile computing.
I bought the iPad as a supplement to my laptop. It was a combination of things that led me to consider replacing my laptop in favor of the iPad. I think the germ of the idea started when I read about Andrew’s experience. But, there were too many problems (detailed above) in doing so. But, this summer, some of the domino’s began to fall. iOS5 was released that severed the connection to PC’s. And iCloud provides a good way to back up your iPad to the cloud.
So, the fundamentals are now in place. But, what about how I use my laptop? Could I get the same things done on the iPad, that I now mostly do on my laptop? Let’s take these one by one:

* Notes: I’m already comfortable taking notes in Evernote on my iPad.
* Blogging: I’m currently writing this post using an app called Blogsy. It’s a very good blogging tool that lets me embed pictures, video and links.
* Writing: I haven’t done too much writing on the iPad. But, I do have more than a few word processors installed. I have Apple’s Pages, DocsToGo, and Office2 HD. I’ve mostly just played around with them. The latter two have ways to sync docs with Dropbox and Google Docs.
*Photos: Apple sells a little dongle to insert an SD card into the dock connector for offloading pictures from cameras. But, I have a Eye-Fi card in mine. So, I don’t even need to physically connect the card to the iPad to get my pictures into Google Picasa Web.
* Videos: I have an 4th Gen iPod Touch with a video camera. So, when I want to quickly shoot something and get it online, I can do that without even moving the footage off the iPod before uploading to youtube. If I want to get movies off the Sony P&S, I might be able to use Apple’s camera connection kit. But, I’m not sure. I think I may have attempted it. And my memory is that it didn’t work.
*Programming: Yeah, right. We’ll talk about this one later. Apple doesn’t allow the interpreting of code on the iPad. I have a solution for this. But, like I said, I’ll explain this one in the next paragraph.

So, how am I planning on getting around the programming blockade? Well, I have this little program sitting on my iPad called LogMeIn. It allows to remotely log into my laptop back home and navigate the computer when I have an internet connection with the iPad. With LogMeIn, I can continue to use XCode, and other programs that I’m comfortable using on my laptop. For instance, if I’m finding that I’m not comfortable using Pages to write in, and I find that I’m missing Scrivener, I could just log into the former laptop now desktop computer at home and work remotely. I’ve been trying it from time to time. And if I try to log in while I’m using the MiFi, the refresh rate, frustratingly slow. But, if I log in using the wifi where I’m usually hanging out, it’s about 95% of the perceived performance of being there. So, as long as I can get my programming fix on the go, I’m good.

But, didn’t I say I was thinking about getting rid of the laptop? Why would I just keep it at home? What I’ve been thinking about doing is buying a little Mac Mini and hosting it at a Colocation facility like this. Not only am I looking at ways to do something in a new way. I’ll also learn something new. I could even run this site on that server and have better control. My own personal cloud. But, for now, I plan on leaving the laptop at home. I’ll still use it when I’m at my desk. But, until I can figure out what I’m going to do with it, it will be chained to my desk. If this continues to be a good experience, I’ll move to the next level. I’ll keep you all posted about how this thing goes. I’m sure there will be things that frustrate me. But, I’m looking forward to the frustrations as much as I am looking forward to the things that go well.
Oh, and yes, I realize how stupid I’ll look with the external bluetooth keyboard butted up against my slightly leaning ipad. Maybe, I’ll get one of those keyboard iPad cases. But, I’m a fairly good touch typist. I can touch type on the iPad’s screen at about 28 – 30 wpm.

So, follow along as I learn something new.


About Frogtosser

A former sailor and pizza maker who is done hiding from the world and is now living life to it's fullest extent. I'm a single speed bicycle commuter who enjoys writing and photography. I'm a voracious reader. And a huge geek!
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2 Responses to iPad as Laptop Replacement Experiment

  1. Good luck, but you would probably be much happier with a macbook air. I freaking love my 11″

    • tossingfrogs says:

      I know. I love my 11″ Air as well. Just too bad that most of the display is covered in vertical lines. If this doesn’t work out, then I’ll spend the $500 to get it fixed. If not, I’ll stick with this. I like trying new things and pushing the limits.

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