Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Man Does Not Live On iPad Alone

Like many people, I lusted after an iPad and miraculously won one as a door prize months ago. This completed my collection of various types of devices.I now have a traditional desktop setup running Windows XP, a notebook running Ubuntu Linux, an iPad and an iPhone. I have an HTC EVO device as well but it is currently deactivated. The question is how many devices do I need when I travel outside the home office.

Safe to say, like an American Express card, one would never leave home without your phone. My business number is a Google Voice number and that application happens to run pretty well on the notebook. In theory using a blue tooth earpiece I should be able to use it as my phone. In fact, I have and it actually works well. But it is impractical to use as a phone in many situations including on a plane, in a taxi or even in my own car.

Similarly, the iPhone is a pretty capable little device and I can run almost any application I need on it. Keep in mind I live almost exclusively in the cloud. My email, documents and social network activity require only a browser.Everything can be accessed over the web.

Screen size is a serious limitation. If I take off my glasses and peer closely I can muddle through a first pass at my email and other on-line content. But let's be realistic. To really drill into that job specification posted on Yahoo groups or the 32 comments below a facebook post can get tedious.

Enter the iPad. With the iPhone as a phone and the iPad for all other content management I can almost pull it off. The iPad screen is clear, crisp and large enough while the processor is fast and memory more than adequate. Everything from scanning and filing email to participating in video chat sessions can be done with ease. Short replies, comments under posts, bill paying, and all different web site interactions can be performed.

You know, of course, there is a big but coming.

Each weekday, in addition to all the other on and off-line activity, I write a column like this one. I often have to write letters or create other large documents including spreadsheets and presentation. I have to handle and edit photos and other graphics. These tasks require at least three things the iPad does not have.

I find it very difficult to compose large documents without a conventional keyboard and mouse. While the iPad screen is a good size for viewing, I need to have more real estate when creating or editing content. Finally, when in a location lacking broadband, the iPad becomes nearly useless. Often as a visitor to a client office, hotel or while on a plane, my iPad is pretty much useless.

For these reasons I still feel compelled to drag my monster notebook along on business trips. Someone is going to suggest in comments that I buy some additional peripherals for my iPad like a portable key board and wireless mouse, trade my iPad 2 for a snappy new one with LTE and perhaps change my vision prescription.

Well I think I may fix the problem another way. There sure are an awful lot of new lightweight notebooks out there and my birthday is coming up in a a few more months. What should I get next?

Captain Joe

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