Supposedly, Bill Gates’ vision, when he and Paul Allen started Microsoft, was to see a computer in every home. That’s mostly a reality today at some level or another—especially if you consider that the average smart phone—iPhone or Android—is at the very least a small computer. Of course, many still believe that a “real” computer is a traditional laptop or desktop computer.
Nevertheless, ever since the iPad came out in 2010, I’ve felt that it was the perfect form factor, and all the computer that most people probably need. When I can get away with it, I use my iPad; it's my "computer" of choice. If I’m going to a meeting where I only need to take simple notes, I use my iPad. After I got an iPad with a retina screen, I even got rid of my Kindle and Nook. As much as I liked eInk, I didn’t feel it was necessary anymore with the sharpness that text rendered on high resolution screens. I know what they say about illuminated screens interfering with sleep patterns, but honestly, I really don’t have much of a problem most nights falling asleep.
And, of course, my iPad can become a laptop replacement so easily because I can use a keyboard with it. I actually have two keyboards that work nicely with my iPad Air (first generation). I have a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover as well as an iWerkz folding keyboard that fits conveniently in the side pocket of my cargo pants.
So, a little over a week ago when Kathy and I decided to take a quick vacation to New Orleans, I thought I’d try a little experiment. Truthfully, I always have to take a little bit of work with me. I have responsibilities with Accordance that I didn’t want to pawn off on anyone else for the two days we were there, and I also had a few papers to grade for IWU. Our trip was a short one, and none of this was too heavy, so I downloaded the papers ahead of time on my MacBook Pro to OneDrive and opted to take only my iPad Air.
You might wonder what the big deal is in all of this, but you have to understand that I can’t even remember the last time I traveled without an actual Mac laptop of some kind. Nevertheless, since we had decided that we didn’t want to check bags, I didn’t want to lug my 15" MacBook Pro and power cord on the flights to New Orleans in addition to our carry-on luggage. Truthfully, I could’ve just carried my iPad in my hand, but since Kathy was carrying her purse in addition to her carry-on suitcase, she asked if I would take a bag over my shoulder for our iPads. I grabbed my trusty Levenger Stanley Traveler (don’t bother looking—they don’t make it anymore) and opted to take the iWerkz keyboard in a side pocket instead of the mildly added bulk of the Logitech keyboard.
So how did the iPad fair? How realistic is it to think that I could go a few days without needing a traditional computer? Well, I had mixed results, but ultimately, in more than one instance, I needed my MacBook Pro.
For grading papers, the iPad was fine. I was able to access the papers in MS Word for the iPad, retrieving them from OneDrive. If you haven’t used it, Word is quite the capable word processing solution for the iPad and since its release has become my preferred word processing tool over Apple’s iWork Pages that I had used since the iPad was first released. Word let me retrieve and save documents to OneDrive and let me add comments for my students in the margins of the document. Unfortunately, there’s no way I know of to upload the papers to Pearson Learning Studio, which is the online learning system IWU uses for its students. I could have emailed the graded papers to my students, but I decided to wait and upload them from my MacBook Pro once I got home.
Most of the work I had to do for Accordance I was able to do just fine from the iPad. I could send out social media alerts over the Accordance Twitter and FaceBook accounts, but I never could figure out how to do that for our Google+ page. On my MacBook Pro, a “Manage this page” button appears on the Accordance Google+ page, but I never could get that to appear on the iPad, regardless of whether I was in the Google+ app or in a web browser (I tried both Safari and Chrome for the iPad to no avail). There may very well have been something obvious there I wasn’t seeing, but I never found any way to leave a post in Google+.
I also had an issue using the iPad’s browser solutions with one particular aspect of the Accordance website’s backend, but it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to give details in regard to that.
In addition to the above, I also had trouble responding to a YouTube comment on Accordance’s YouTube account. This was very frustrating because whenever I went to YouTube.com, I was immediately switched over to the YouTube app. In the app I was never able to leave a comment.
I would say that I could do 75% of what I needed to do from the iPad. What I couldn’t do was quite specialized. Again, I believe an iPad or equivalent Windows or Android tablet is enough computer for most people—especially when paired with a keyboard. Nevertheless, I don’t believe I’ll be in any position to use an iPad exclusively any time soon.
However, this does make the new 12" retina MacBook all that more appealing to me. It has nearly the same form factor of my iPad Air paired with my Logitech keyboard and would be easy to add to the Stanley Traveler on short trips.
And, of course, I have no doubt that in time iOS will become more and more capable of handing an expanding number of tasks. While the 12" MacBook is nearing the iPad’s space, at least as far as form factor is concerned, the rumored 12" “iPad Pro” will come from the other direction to approximate the form factor of the smaller MacBook variations.
The lines between iPad and MacBook are starting to blur, and for me, that can’t come soon enough.
Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Rebuttals? Let me know what you think in the Comments section below.