Giving up my personal Mac
Upon the imminent release of the iPad Air 2, I had decided it was time to retire my good old iPad 3. It was a BEAST in weight, with an amazing Retina Display at the time and we sure had a good time together.
My plan, however, was a little more drastic.
Since 2010, I had a 13″ MacBook Pro as my personal computer. At my company, us partners had a bring your own computer policy. My faithful Mac stayed with me as my business PC for all these years. Now, at my current job, we get MacBooks as work PCs and my use for my 13″ baby was lacking in recent years, as was its performance. It is a powerful machine, but update after update made it slower and slower until I was using my work PC at home and not caring for my personal Mac at all.
So I decided to get the biggest iPad money could afford, a usable keyboard/cover for it and use this as a replacement for my first personal Mac.
My setup is as follows:
– iPad Air 2 Black 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular
– Zagg Folio with backlit Keyboard Black for iPad Air 2
– Adonit Jot Touch fine-tip stylus with pressure sensitivity
On a side-note, my smartphone of choice is a Nexus 5 since I use a lot of Google services, which my iPad just happens to like.
While most of my experience over the last three weeks has mainly been positive (looking for a good keyboard not being a part of the process), I believe it is only fair to point out the limitations of my new hardware-setup.
I took a leap of faith towards a fully iPad-oriented private digital life, knowing that I would still have my office MacBook as a fallback solution. However, I didn’t really want to unplug the Mac everytime I went home and, one of the reasons why I decided to give up on my private Mac was mainly because, even on the days I didn’t take my business Mac home, I still wasn’t using it. When I truly needed to get something done, I took it home. When not and something came up, I tried to solve it using my iPad first and then moved on to booting my Mac, a process that required a lot of patience from myself as well as my wife, anxiously expecting me to turn on the next episode of “Mad Men”.
And while this scenario has greatly changed now, since I have properly configured my iPad and acquired the necessary hardware to make it fully functional, some limitations still apply. My private setup is the exact opposite of my office counterpart. There, I have a 15″ MacBook Pro (specs are not important here), connected to a Kanex Keyboard which allows me to connect my Mac, my phone and both my private as well as the company’s iPad to it, as well as a 27″ Apple Display. I like to call it the Starship Enterprise. It is as functional as it is bulky (but performs marvelously in warp-speed).
When you have three screens in front of your face (the phone doesn’t count and the company’s iPad Mini is just for random testing), it is a logical conclusion that this is the best way to multitask. I can have code, the database structure, ongoing documentation and wikis, frontend results as well as live analysis (I “heart” Status Board) all visible at the same time and, to be honest, I need it to be. It is going to take years before Tablets can reach such multitasking power and the only hardware/software combination to have taken a single step in the right direction is Microsoft with the Surface 3.0 and Windows 8.1… Their system, however, fails at mostly everything else.
The good part about this, however, is that it is the only limitation that I’ve found during my testing phase. Moreover, I have noticed great leaps in productivity doing “digital” chores when compared to those using a regular laptop. I probably owe that to the fact that the iPad is instantly on and that the apps for it in the AppStore are just fantastic. It truly took me a couple of minutes to print out pre-paid tickets for sending eBay stuff out (I have an ePrint HP printer that seamlessly connects to my iPad) using eBay’s iPad App. Doing price-comparison, no problem. Writing Emails with attachments, a thing of minutes. Writing blog-posts… Well, you get the idea and YES I am writing this in the subway using the amazing WordPress App. There’s an App for virtually everything and Apps beat websites any day.
I even do some small coding fixes using Textastic, which actually has some fun touch-based features that wouldn’t be possible on a lap-top.
However, one thing that really blew me away this week was the first time my iPad seemed more suited for an office task than my laptop. I was taking meeting notes on Evernote, when all of a sudden we started going on about project structures inside the software. Since we didn’t have a white-board (which is a work-in-progress), I fired up the AppleTV in the meeting room and started drawing the structure, together with our software engineer, over AirPlay Mirroring, using the stylus. We were handing each other the iPad in turns and the structure was there in a few minutes. No need to erase it with paper-towels and all that analog stuff, just perfect and ready to be sent to the development team.
During the coming weeks I will make an effort to provide feedback on individual experiences I am having with this new setup. Until then, just know things are looking good 🙂