Why There Is NO WAY I’m Ditching My MacBook For An iPad

From Ben Brooks:

That means the decision is really between bringing my iPad 2 and Origami, or my iPad 2 and MacBook Air. […]

There’s three critical things I need to be able to do when away:

  1. Remote login to my property management server.
  2. SSH into the TBR server.
  3. Post new content here.

One and two are no problem for the iPad 2 — but surprisingly it was number three that I have trouble accomplishing.

As devices like the iPad become more powerful and as case makers come up with better ways to carry an external keyboard, the inevitable questions of “why carry a laptop” arise. I get the desire, but my MacBook Air isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Actually scratch that, it’s going with me, often.

Every day I’m astounded by what I can accomplish on portable devices1, but I am inevitably frustrated by something it can’t. It isn’t a typing issue; external keyboards have seen to that. It isn’t a power issue; most users would be fine for a few days. It’s a flexibility and interoperability challenge that keeps me from leaving the laptop for any trip longer than an afternoon.

Inevitably there is something important that you need that the device cannot accommodate. For Ben, that’s access to Amazon S3. For me it’s the need for full access to TextExpander for customer service emails. But the real problem goes beyond what we need and into what we want. The extra weight is far less cumbersome than the incremental frustrations of not having fully integrated access to things like 1Password, Keyboard Maestro and Fantastical.

There is a good chance that a day will soon come when an iPad and an external keyboard can do everything you need, but even then, is it worth giving up everything you want? Maybe I’ve just become a workflow wacko, but saving a few pounds of weight for a ton of tiny inconveniences just doesn’t seem like all that good of a deal to me…


  1. In fact I’m writing these very words on my iPhone while on the subway.  

14 Responses to Why There Is NO WAY I’m Ditching My MacBook For An iPad

  1. Agreed. Those few extra ounces matter little, since I’m typically carrying several pounds of other stuff: books, lunch or whatever. The real dividing line comes between carry-in-a-pocket and carry-in-a-bag. Once you cross that line, particularly the hassle of not leaving it where it can be snitched, the slightly smaller size and weight of an iPad matters little.

    And having an iPhone also weighs into the equation. Every time I think about getting an iPad, I ask myself what it will do that my always-with-me iPhone can’t do, and the answer always comes back “Not much.” 

    Where the iPad really shines is where Steve Jobs demoed it, lounging on a couch. It’s great for leisurely activities or the kind of work that functions best when relaxing, as in mind mapping the structure of a book or article.

    • You and I see eye to eye here. For me it’s ever a matter of Laptop or iPad, it’s Laptop or iPhone. Then again, I know I do an unusual amount on my phone.

      I went for the iPad and I love it for a few key things. You’re right, you can’t beat it for goofing off and watching TV or a Movie and I love it for mind mapping, but in just about every other way I’d prefer my phone or my laptop. I can’t tell you I’m dying to change that anytime soon either.

  2. I’m with you here Michael. I do a lot of video editing, writing, and much more on my MBP and there is no way to do that on a tablet device.

    Now for media consumption though (rather than production) the iPad is definitely my preferred method. I even like using Twitter and other apps on the iPad much better than the Mac. Digital magazines as well (which require an iPad anyhow). Still I really like physical magazines and have a few subscriptions…

      • I could never get into mindmapping on the iPad. I keep my MBP by the bed (yes I’m that kind of Apple fanatic) when reading so I can pound out some mindmaps or put stuff into Evernote. The iPad is the main tool of my wife, though now she’s getting into Facebook a bit more and adding photos and you can’t do that as easily on the iPad, if at all. We’ve got the V1.

  3. Yep – it’s why I still don’t own one. I have the Kindle Fire for quick internet access, but I still love all of the things my laptop gives me with NO question about accessibility to the require programs I use.

    I get how sexy the ipad is…. but I’m a practical kind of gal.

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