Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Great iPad Experiment - Results

The great iPad experiment has come to a conclusion and it's time to share the results!

As you may recall, I've been conducting an experiment with my iPad to determine if it can fill all of my mobile computing needs. Can it eliminate the need for a laptop or netbook?

I have several observations:

- The iPad is a great platform for consumption: movies, music, books, news, and other forms of media. The combination of the form factor and the superior media consumption experience are at the heart of what makes the iPad a revolutionary product.

- The iPad is also strong when it comes to what I'll call "light computing": checking email, writing text (SimpleNote has a simple UI and syncs all my text files between all my devices), and creating/editing simple MS Office-type files (I use DocsToGo, but iWorks for the iPad and QuickOffice are out there). The iPad is also pretty good for presentations - KeyNotes for the iPad is a great tool for working through digital projectors and the like.

- The limitations of the iPad become more apparent as I start to do some heavier computing. Complex Excel workbooks or Word files…can't do 'em on the iPad. DocsToGo is pretty quirky when I attempt to do things like hide presentation slides or add in animation or include graphics files. And iWorks for the iPad…well, i works hard to deal with the funky UI and touch commands. And my favorite web-based solutions like Google Docs or Soho don't work so well with the iPad. Really heavy stuff like running VMs - well, the iPad just isn't designed for it.

So my conclusion? I got pretty creative and pushed the iPad to the limit in hoping that it would do the trick. I did find the The iPad to be cool…even revolutionary…but I still need a laptop or netbook. Some of the things I do are just too much for the iPad (and please don't suggest I vpn back to my desktop - I have this thing about snappy performance that just isn't satisfied over a 3G pipe). I'll be relying on the iPad at conferences (on the days I don't present) and for short trips, but it will see most of it's duty when I'm reading in bed or sitting in my recliner at home.

Maybe someday in the future the iPad will be a full replacement for a laptop or netbook. I could see it happening. But today is not that day. Experiment over.

Now I just have to get the OK from my wife for a MacBook Pro with a snappy solid state drive (and I really like the form factor of the 13.3 inch MBP). Set it up with a Linux VM (for Oracle apps and tools) and a Windows VM (for Visio and MS Project), and life will be good. What do you want to bet I'll have to buy two?

UPDATE: MacBook ordered August 5th.


Erika Webb said...

I've come to agree--I love my iPad for some things, but I find it's better for lighter weight, more "mobile" activities. I love that it can stand in when I'm in a pinch or don't want to haul my laptop, but it's just a little kluge-y for more hard core editing.

John Stouffer said...


You tried and tried...:-))

Please let me know how that Visio/Projects installation works out. If you can get it to work, we'll have to chat at Oracle OpenWorld...:-)

Good stuff as always. I've heard the iPad referred to as the new iPhone with the new O/S without the phone...:-(

See ya at OpenWorld!


MrBolo said...

I think the iPAD keyboard is limiting the user to just simple computing. I cannot typoe 1/5 as fast as with a real keyboard. Of course I could get a bluetooth keyboard, but by then I could just use my laptop for real computing.

iPAD is great for email, YouTube, Sales Presentations. Can also be used for simple GPS apps, such as a deliver person having a person sign they received a product.

The iPAD is not good for anyting that requires a lot of typing.