a work week with the iPad

April 26, 2010

Last week, I turned my MacBook Pro into a desktop machine, using only an iPad anytime I left the house. For me, that’s every morning, and last week, it included one full day. So…can an iPad be your complete mobile solution? Maybe the picture to the right can tell you what I think.

If you’re not sure after looking at the picture, let me clear it up. Right now, I would say it’s a definitive maybe.

Some General Impressions

  • The Battery – I have never seen the battery drop below 50% AND my AC adapter is still wrapped in plastic. Hooking the iPad up to my laptop at my desk for an hour or two in the afternoon gives me all the juice I need.
  • The Apple Case – I was using a netbook neoprene sleeve that fit perfectly. But by Wednesday, I was checking at The Apple Store for their case, and I found them in stock on Thursday. It makes a big difference. Being able to prop the iPad up a few degrees from a flat surface makes it more accessible for typing on your lap or any flat surface.
  • Form factor – As you would hope, the smaller form factor is an asset at times. One day, I rode the train downtown, and it was much easier to break out the iPad than it would have been to use a full laptop. It was also great in meetings, where a slightly propped up iPad doesn’t create the barrier that a laptop does. I think this will be my primary device for meetings.
  • The Wifi issue – I’ve read about people having issues with the Wifi. It only happened to me in one spot. I don’t know if they had old firmware in a cheap router, or if I had a weak signal, but I got kicked off a few times.

The Negative: Workflow Disruption
I fancy myself a power user of my laptop — flipping back and forth between spaces, firing off thoughts via Launchbar, accessing 1Password from my browser toolbar, etc. Using the iPad disrupted that. I ended up keeping my iPhone next to it with OmniFocus open.

Another limitation was what I hoped might be a strength — using the iPad as a reference tool. Since most of my notes are in Yojimbo, my access to them was hampered. I tried a demo of Webjimbo — the developer was responsive in making sure it formatted well for iPad. This remote solution is workable if you really need something that is trapped at home, but not for heavy usage. My Bible software, Logos, can’t cut and paste or save notes, and SimpleNote has yet to be approved for iPad. All of these were hangups.

There were also some disruptions in Safari. First off, many sites see the iPad as mobile, and only give you access to their mobile version. That will hopefully change soon. Other sites weren’t working yet, like the email composer in MailChimp. And, some websites don’t allow an embedded script to scroll properly. Strangely, even Google Docs iPad version will let you view, but not edit your docs. At least they give you the opportunity to switch to the full site in the footer.

The Plus: Workflow Focus
Yes, this is exactly the opposite of what I said above, but it’s really helpful to not have distractions sit in your menubar, or a keystroke away. With no multitasking, what I’m working is what I’m working on. And that was a good thing. I’m not in a rush to see multi-tasking on the iPad, because being focused is my favorite thing about it right now. Well, that and having it by me on the couch while I’m winding down in the evening.

“I’ll do it when I get home.”
I thought that sentence far too often last week, and that’s why I have my laptop with me this morning again. And most of the time, I will still be carrying my laptop with me. There were simply too many tasks that are still much easier to handle on here.

But I said the answer is a definite maybe, because…

At this point, it’s really all about the apps. When Logos is improved. When OmniFocus for iPad is available. When WriteRoom, or any text editor with a word count feature and simpletext.ws sync, is available. Or heck, when Scrivener is (hopefully) there for me. That’s when I could really see the iPad being a strong contender to be my main sidekick.

Maybe at the end of the summer, I’ll revisit this. Having a combination of an iMac for design and heavy lifting, plus an iPad, could be a great setup. But right now, it’s not the right setup for me.

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