The end of my iPad only experiment

Back in March, my Macbook died (or it seemed that it died – more about how I brought it back to life in another post) and I was left without a computer. Instead of going out and purchasing a new Mac right then and there, I decided to wait. I read enough of the Apple press to know that with the World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) just around the corner, new iMacs and MacBooks would be just around the corner.

I decided to embark on an experiment of sorts, to see if I could live with just my iPad2 as my computer while I put the purchase of a new iMac or MacBook on hold.

The WWDC came and went and only new MacBook Pros were announced. By then, I had decided that I was ready to switch back to a desktop machine from the laptop I had been using, and I wanted to purchase a  new iMac. With my iPad2 as my portable machine, I didn’t see the need for a laptop, but editing lots of photos and movies I have taken of my kids would be so much easier on an iMac.  Sadly, Apple didn’t announce new iMacs at the WWDC festivities.  So, rather than wait any longer, my husband and I visited the Apple store on this side of town (there are two) to purchase a new 21.5″ 2.7 GHz quad-core iMac, with 8GB RAM. Yes, I do know that this means new iMacs are destined to be released with the release of Mountain Lion later this month.

All in all, I would say that my experiment was a success. For everything that I needed the portability of a laptop for, my iPad2 is more than sufficient. I probably won’t be purchasing another laptop for personal use as long as I have an iPad. I am fairly proficient at typing on glass, and I like the touch screen, pinch zoom, swipe, gestures.

The things I use the iPad for (and do not need a desktop or full computer)

  • Surfing the web
  • Reading and responding to email
  • To Do List tracking (Wunderlist is my go to app)
  • Watching streaming video from iTunes, or ABC app player, youtube, etc. either on the iPad2 itself or to our television via Airplay to our Apple TV.
  • Listening to podcasts: via instacast app or stitcher radio app. The new Apple iOS podcast app only just came out and I have yet to test it out, but I suspect it would be fine too.
  • Reading Social Network sites via their apps: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+
  • Reading ebooks
  • Playing games

The only trouble I had with some of the social network apps on the iPad was the limitations they put on their functions in a mobile device. Twitter, in particular, made it hard for me to manage my account on the iPad. You can’t approve followers, or sort the folks you follow into your lists either via the twitter official app or the website. The Website part is annoying because I couldn’t figure out a way to bypass the mobile version of the site in order to get the full functionality.

While I appreciate it when sites anticipate what I want to see by offering a more streamlined “mobile” version of their site, I appreciate it even more when they offer a link to take me to the full site.  The iPad is a mobile device that is also capable of reading full webpages as they are designed to be read by the rest of the non-mobile audience.

As capable as my iPad is, there were still some show stoppers for me that lead me back to wanting to have a desktop as the base station for my i-devices.

Things I wanted a desktop for (and for which the iPad 2 just wasn’t enough).

  • Managing my iDevices
  • Manipulating and managing personal photos
  • Manipulating and managing home movies
  • Creating content (software development – I dabble)
  • Running analysis codes (sometimes work comes home with me)
  • Holding the movies, TV shows, etc to be served to our Apple TV
  • Backing up data from the iPads, iPhone, iPod Touch, as well as movies, photos, etc. via TimeMachine
  • Writing this blog (yes, you can do it, but I didn’t find it at all easy)
  • Manage my Barnes and Noble nook (downloading ebooks borrowed from the local library)

Managing my iDevices

In all, I manage two iPads (my original one that now belongs to my son, my iPad2),  my iPhone 4 and my daughter’s iPod touch. I am more comfortable updating the iOS, and apps on my computer via iTunes, and then updating the rest of the iDevices via iTunes by physically hooking them unto the Mac. Call it old habits or bad memories, but updating things over the air makes me terribly nervous. I did it during the three month experiment, but it was always with copious fingers crossed.

Overall, if you’re considering making your iPad your only computer, you should go through the list of things you want to be able to do with it. For me, the list seemed even, but in the end, the things I wanted an iMac for (over a MacBook) were all things that I couldn’t do with the iPad alone.

I think it’s worth a few more blog posts to go through each of the items that I found I couldn’t do with the iPad alone. Some of them were show stoppers, and some of them were things I found the iPad just didn’t do as well as an iMac.

I don’t think that Apple means for the iPad to be everything. At least, I don’t think that apple sees the iPad as the everything device just yet. I can see a future where Apple envisions the iCloud serving all the functions my iMac does, and the iPad just interacts with it. For me, though, that’s not really the path I’d like to walk. I’ve always been a “let me do what I want” sort of gal when it comes to my Mac, and I don’t see the Cloud replacing that anytime soon.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve got specific questions about things you want to do with your iPad only solution that you don’t think you can. I will so my best to answer them.

Take care and happy computing.