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Hello iPad, Goodbye Laptop: Part 1

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Let’s talk about this idea of replacing your laptop (or even your desktop) with the iPad: putting the iPad to the test and pushing its hardware and software to the limits, incorporating a few creative workarounds here and there. Because by figuring out what it can do, we’ll also have a fairly good idea of what it cannot do. In Part 1 of a multi-part series, James Kelly describes realities of using the iPad in lieu of a laptop.
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No one who knows me will ever accuse me of being an Apple Fanboy or a Microserf; I tend to buy and use what gets the work done while also trying to stay within a reasonable budget and satisfying the software requirements for the applications I use. As a writer, I’ve been hauling my nine-pound boat anchor (my nickname for the my HP laptop) here and yonder for almost two years…coffee shops, home office, lunch at restaurants that have free WiFi… you get the picture.

But along with the laptop, I’ve also been carrying other stuff. A few months ago, I took a quick look in my laptop bag and found the following: a spare power cord for my cellphone, a USB mouse (rarely used), an assortment of pens (but no paper!), a USB cable that took me a few minutes to identify (for my wife’s digital camera to upload her pictures to my laptop), and two paperback books that were stuffed in a back pocket that I just couldn’t seem to get around to reading.

Leave the Laptop at Home? Are You Serious?

Now, don’t laugh–I took my laptop and laptop bag full of stuff and sat it down on the digital scale in our bathroom. Fifteen pounds! (That’s 6.8 kilograms for you metric users.) And I was carrying all of that around for work, Monday to Friday, and some weekends. If you’re wondering why I went to all this trouble, here’s the scoop: I bought an iPad. But before I go into more of an explanation, let me add that I purchased a docking keyboard for the iPad as well a small canvas bag with padding inside. Total weight of iPad, keyboard, and bag? Less than 3.5 pounds (1.6 kilograms). I had to take the new bag and contents to The UPS Store to have it weighed because it was too light to register on my home digital scale!

Here’s the explanation. As soon as I heard about the iPad and its accessories and started reading early reviews and seeing videos and online demos of various apps and features, I immediately asked myself one key question: Would it be remotely possible to ditch my laptop for the iPad?

I hear you, believe me! You’re probably putting up some of the same roadblocks I did:

  • It doesn’t run Microsoft Office applications!
  • The screen is too small!
  • An onscreen keyboard is too much of a hassle to use!
  • I’m not a fan of cloud computing, and that’s all the iPad is good for!
  • It doesn’t even have a USB port!
  • I can’t connect to a printer!
  • I need to be able to access to my home/work computer files!
  • It’s just a toy–it’s not a serious computing device!
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