iPad as laptop replacement

Discussion in 'iPad' started by bankshot, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. bankshot macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2003
    Southern California
    First, I know this general question has been asked and discussed many times before. I've already read through several helpful threads about it, but a few questions remain. :) Skip down to "Questions" below if you're in a hurry.

    Our 4 year old original MacBook finally seems to have kicked the bucket this week. For the time being, my wife and I are sharing the Mac mini I'm using to type this, but that gets old pretty fast. Both with the lack of portability and with the one user at a time thing. So, what to do?

    The conventional wisdom says to get a 13" MacBook Pro, which costs the same now as we originally paid for our white MacBook in 2006. The aluminum enclosure is a nice upgrade since I believe that flexing of the polycarbonate case was a major factor in our MacBook's eventual demise. But otherwise I'm extremely underwhelmed with what the current machine gives us, after 4 years of progress - especially the barely faster CPU.

    So another (cheaper) possibility might be to get an iPad for portability around the house and on trips, sharing the Mac mini (or an upgraded desktop machine) for "real" computer work and syncing. I would say the iPad would work for 90% of what my wife does - web, email, etc - but that last 10% is problematic. She definitely needs Office, and iWork doesn't appear to cut it. Sharing the desktop machine for that might work. In general, it's doubtful that both of us would need the real computer at the same time; one could "work" while the other surfs/etc on the iPad.

    • One concern is ergonomics. The iPad seems to be pretty bad in this regard - kind of surprising coming from Apple (but then again, when's the last time they rigorously followed their own HIG for software? :rolleyes: ). You either hold it constantly with one hand (or both) so that the screen is at a similar angle as a laptop screen would naturally be. Or you lay it flat in your lap while holding your neck at an unnatural angle, looking straight down. Either one seems like a recipe for carpal tunnel or other joint problems. Anyone care to comment on experience with this?

    • Another concern is sharing. I find it astonishing that the iPad doesn't have user profiles with separate bookmarks and email - I guess Apple wants every household to purchase iPads for all individuals in the house. Email might not be an issue if we both just use webmail and remember to logout when done. I suppose we could also have top-level bookmark folders for each of us to separate those, too - mobile Safari has bookmark folders, right??

      Does anyone have any thoughts and experiences on sharing an iPad among multiple users? What worked and what didn't? What about syncing? I presume it can't be synced with both accounts on the real computer, so you have to designate just one as the sync account.

    • My primary concern on trips is being able to edit and upload photos to share with people back home. I know the iPad has that memory card reader accessory, but what about editing photos before uploading? I couldn't tell from Apple's pages whether it can do anything - from simple adjustments like cropping to stuff like color adjustment. Or are there 3rd party apps that can do this?

    • My final concern is the virtual keyboard. I don't think I have a real question here, as I assume it would get easier with practice. But I must say, we spent some time at an Apple store a couple months ago, and I hated it. Definitely wouldn't use it for writing anything as long as this post. That could be a deal breaker right there.

    We're probably still leaning towards a MBP, but the iPad is very compelling in terms of price, and the fact that it would do most of what we need out of a portable machine. And the money saved could go towards upgrading this old Mac mini, which I would like too. :D Just a real shame that there are a few potential deal breakers that needn't be there if the software were a bit better. Decisions, decisions...
  2. hexhead macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2010
    My MacBook died a couple of weeks ago, so my iPad has been it's 98% replacement since.

    As for ergos, I use in the same positions in my lap I used the laptop, only it's a whole lot lighter and more comfortable. Keyboard's not an issue for me, but you can get either the dock/ keyboard combo for it or just use a Bluetooth one with it.

    My wife and I have never used the separate user settings on the Mac, so sharing bookmarks or desktops has never been an issue. She's got a category in the bookmarks menu with her name for personal bookmarks as do I. Just makes it easier to find your favorites that way.

    Mail on the iPad easily handles multiple accounts, so unless you need to hide something from each other, no problem.

    The Photoshop Mobile app allows you do do simple photo editing on your iPhone or iPad.
  3. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    I think that if you have a computer already, an MBP is overkill as a mobile computer.
  4. tallyho macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2004
    Although iOS 4 with its unified inbox adds a lot of clutter and redundancy when you really want to keep separate mail accounts separate. You can still go in and out of individual accounts but it would be neater if you had the option to turn off the unified inbox and the duplicate inbox icons.

    Re ergonomics, i recommend you to get a case with a good typing angle.
  5. Batt macrumors 65816


    Dec 17, 2007
    Syracuse, NY
    It'll work out just fine. For typing, get the Apple case that gives you a nice angle for both typing and viewing.
  6. poloponies Suspended

    May 3, 2010
    While this seems goofy to me, maybe they've conducted market research that shows them there's a need for an iPad accessory that makes it more netbook-like:

  7. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2008
    Dallas, Texas/ Hong Kong
    Wow, this is awesome. I will definitely get one if it ever comes out.
  8. southernpaws macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2008
    I've had the iPad for three days now. I've finally trained myself to watch the screen instead of my fingers and it's made all the difference. I still need the apple keyboard for extended typing because it will hurt my wrists.

    Regarding other ergodynamics, a good case will do wonders. The apple case is a solid choice. There is also a really sick case out there with a built in Bluetooth keyboard.


    Overall, I thought the iPad would be a flop or a niche product. But really, it's perfect for ninety percent of what I use a computer for. I would seriously consider it.
  9. bembol macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2006
    For the first time, Apple saved me money. I take it back, I spent so much this year on Apple with 32GB iPhone 4, touch & iPad Wi-Fi.

    Seriously, I always wanted a MacBook Pro but this all changed when they released the iPad. It also showed that I didn't need 3+GHz i7, 4GB RAM, 512MB ATi, etc. I'm obsessed with Performance Specs when I know I don't really use it.
  10. stix macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2010
    Helvetic Confederation
    It's definitely not as un-ergonomic as it might seem. I don't notice it, and actually like that you can use it in all sorts of positions (using a laptop when laying down is not so great either). I have the griffin a-frame stand which is good for movie viewing (upright position) or typing (gives a slight incline).

    For photos, I use photogene for editing and then FlickrStackr for uploading to my Flickr account. This gives me pretty much what I want.. cropping, straightening and some adjustments. If you're into serious post-processing, you'll still want to do it on a "real" computer with something like Photoshop, but for uploading a few pics while on your travels, the iPad apps work just fine.

    Having said all that, I find the Photos app on the iPad one of the clunkiest things about it. Apple really could improve that. Working with a Mac makes things easier I believe (I have a Windows PC as a desktop), but still the way it imports photos into the iPad could be a lot better - one "folder" per day, rather than allowing you to select where to put them so you can group photos by trip. I can still live with it, but it's a lot easier to keep your photos on cards for transferring back to the main computer rather than doing it from the iPad (maybe this is better on a Mac, too).

    I would still prefer the portability of the iPad over a laptop when travelling though.
  11. Q-Dog macrumors 6502a


    Sep 9, 2007
    I have a 3G iPad and a mini ... no laptop. My iPad has been with me on the road 3 times for 3 or 4 weeks each time and I've had no issues. There are a couple of limitations, but nothing serious. I was looking at laptops and netbooks before the ipad was announced and decided to wait for the iPad. I have been extremely satisfied with this setup.

    Ergonomics are not an issue. It's easier to use than a laptop. I use the apple case in landscape mode 99% of the time.

    Sharing might be an issue. I don't share mine.

    Photos. I keep them on the camera until I get home.

    Virtual keyboard. No issues. iPad is my main Internet and email device. I'm posting this from the iPad while sitting in my layzboy. After about a half hour I was typing as fast as a real keyboard.
  12. Diane B macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2010
    Western NC foothills
    Works, excel, etc

    I'm a PCer too so needed to find a solution to handle Office. There are 2 good possibities I've found. OfficeHD and Doc to Go both are terrific.



    Either of these combined with Dropbox and Goodreader should handle all your wife's needs. I made the mistake of buying Pages immediately and it just isn't a good solution.

    As to sharing. Both my husband and I have our own main computers. I have a laptop. We use them quite differently, I'm a photographer so need a powerful machine with big calibrated monitor. He does mostly Office, web and email, some photos but mostly with Picasa. I bought my
    Ipad in May and he tried it but expected to get my handmedown when I uograded (the normal
    scenario LOL) but I bought him a 32GB for his birthday this month and he uses it all the time.
    They are very personal devices and we use them as differently as we do our main computers and
    are often using them at the same time--which is kind of nice as we pass ours to each other to
    look or read something. We COULD share but I think we would both be frustrated. Since we both
    read on it as well as do all our web browsing and email, times would conflict. If its possible, I
    would recommend 2.

    I bypass Itunes for uploadiing photos from Lightroom or PS on my main computer using Dropbox. Quick and easy. Try Filterstorm in addition to Photogene for uploaded ohotos to Ipad. Look at ReelDirector also for slideshows organized the way you want and nice videos for sharing.

    I have not used my laptop since May and rarely use my main computer--primarily for photo file processing. Ergonomics are quite a bit better than it would seem with the Apple case or something similar. i added the bluetooth keyboard for times I do a lot of typing and the combo is still a LOT smaller than my laptop but I mostly use the inboard keyboard in landscape. .
  13. nixiemaiden macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2010
    It is kind of unergonomic but it's not so bad. If your neck or wrists or whatever start bothering you, just put it away for a little while. It is really no less unergonomic than using a laptop on your lap. And the best part is that you can use the iPad on your lap and not get welts on your legs from the heat of the bottom of the laptop!!

    I say rather than getting a mac book pro, get 2 iPads....you won't want to share. If there is something that you need your computer for, you already have the mac mini to go to.
  14. myoldwatermill macrumors member

    Jan 2, 2010
    Yeah... Imagine laying down with a MacBook pro on your lap or chest watching a movie..... I think it'd be some sort of torture maneuver, rather then portable entertainment. (ie: freaking' thing gets HOT, not warm.)

    The iPad on the other hand, only gets remotely warm when you are charging.

    I love not having to take a shower after having a computer on me.
  15. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2008
    Dallas, Texas/ Hong Kong
    Yea, my MBP BURNS my lap if I do CPU intensive things like Aperture, watching movie, etc. It is absolutely uncomfortable, and terrible for the family jewels.
  16. mrboult macrumors 6502


    Jul 29, 2008
    London, England
    For the price of the MacBook I would def consider two ipads. One each.

    After having my iPad I will be buying Mac minis in future rather than laptops. The I pad is great for most basic day to day needs except Flash (obviously) and Large amounts of typing. But a Bluetooth keyboard could help as others have said.

    As for sharing the device. . . . . Yes the iPad can manage folders in bookmarks. And as for separating mail accounts I would suggest that one of you uses the standard mail app and one of you uses a 3rd party mail app from the app store.

    I use my iPad every day for everything, and only startup my MacBook when I need to do something that the iPad just can't do. . . . . and don't get me wrong that list is BIG but not things I do every day.
  17. tpg macrumors regular

    Mar 19, 2010
    Consider the flexibility you would have using a "real" laptop over an iPad. A macbook will set you back a few hundred pounds more, but it will be so much more versatile.

    You can shoehorn the iPad into doing office-type stuff, but with only a fraction of the functionality found in even free office suites for computers. It is really intended as a media consumption device.

    Trouble with the mac mini is that the spec is virtually the same as a macbook, while it costs nearly as much. If you buy a 13" macbook pro it will be as fast as the latest mac mini, for only a small increase in price.
  18. bankshot thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2003
    Southern California
    Thanks everyone for all the responses so far. You've all been very helpful - great stuff to consider. We'll probably head to the Apple Store this weekend to take another look. We definitely want something portable for a trip that's coming up soon.

    I'm curious, what did you find inadequate about this? We had iWork '06 for the Mac and weren't terribly impressed, but with 2 newer Mac versions and the current iPad version, I would have hoped it had improved significantly by now. But this has definitely been a concern for my wife - she felt Pages '06 on the Mac was clunky and didn't want to have the same experience if we got an iPad.

    We have Office 2008 for the Mac, so if nothing else, document editing can be done there. But it would be nice to have an adequate solution on the portable machine too.

    Thanks again. :)
  19. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2008
    Dallas, Texas/ Hong Kong
    He may have meant Pages for the iPad. If you read the reviews of the iWorks programs for iPad, many people aren't satisfied with them. I love iWorks on my MBP and Mac Pro, I prefer iWorks over MS Office(which I also have) any day of the week.

    After reading reviews, I choose Docs to Go for iPad over the iWorks programs. I haven't use it yet, but it opens documents great and seems to work well.

    As for your situation, I'd choose a real laptop also over the iPad. The iPad is something to fart around with, play games, check email, watch movies, view/edit documents once in a while, there is so much more you can do with a laptop. I have met people who don't even travel with laptops around the world, only bring their iPads (and a bluetooth keyboard). It can function as a laptop replacement since they only use email, games, and Docs to Go.

    You say you are going on a trip soon, you may be taking photos. While the iPad can process photos, it would be easier to do so on a laptop, with amble hard drive space, and with iPhoto. You can also connect the laptop via ethernet cable if you can't find wifi.
  20. NJMetsHero macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2009
    I've been thinking about doing the same thing. There are a few things the iPad can't do yet that I'd like it to be able to do before I buy one to replace my Macbook.

    • I'd like it to have the front facing camera that I use on my laptop for videos and videoconferencing and I'm 99.99% sure that'll be in the next one with Facetime

    • I still apparently can't edit Google Docs on it which is really, really stupid.

    • I want it to really be a computer. You need to sync the iPad to get all of your media on to it don't you? Same with the iPod. I want to be able to manage all of my media on the iPad without having the need for a computer. Whether that means I can plug in an external hard drive and take stuff off of it directly or if everything is stored in the cloud, it doesn't really matter to me, I need to be able to do that.
  21. OCDetails macrumors newbie

    Feb 7, 2011
    My iPad has been a great laptop substitute. The resolution is not quite as good as my laptop for watching NetFlix, but that is just about the only downside. My daily use laptop is a TabletPC which I use for graphic design all the time, so the iPad can't replace that part of the function either. Other than resolution and a precise pointing device for graphic design, I can do just about everything else.

    Documents To Go provides a Microsoft Office experience for creating, editing, and viewing Excel, Word, Powerpoint, and PDF documents.

    iAnnotate PDF provides me the ability to sign PDF documents similar to my TabletPC, but not quite as accurately. It still works in a pinch.

    Whisper gives me wifi calling ability just like Google Voice on my laptop.

    There are any number of note taking apps for use with type or pen. No really good handwriting recognition software yet like my TabletPC, but it is again, good in a pinch.

    Always On PC provides a good PC-esque environment when I need to multi task. Logmein is also a frequently used app for accessing my computers remotely.

    My most used app is probably Maxivista which turns my iPad into an additional monitor. Very useful for what I do.

    All of that combined with the keyboard/case combo I'm currently using (clamcase on order) gives me a very good netbook experience when I don't want to pull out the laptop. It isn't a 100% replacement, but there aren't many times where I've been left with only the iPad and have wished I had my laptop with me. I'd say it is an easy 90 or 95 percent good substitute nearly all of the time.
  22. dontwalkhand macrumors 601


    Jul 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Get an iMac for you and your wife to share, while get yourself an iPad plus a keyboard case.

    This would be a perfect setup, especially with the keyboard case, allowing you to type out those long documents etc.
  23. jonnymo5 macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    What I have found is that if you have a laptop and a desktop then the iPad is a great laptop replacement. If you want the iPad to be your only computer than it is not. Sure plenty of people could use it as their only computer and it is a great alternative if you can do that but I always end up with the need to go further than I can with the iPad.

    Remember that the iPad is a tool and it should make you more efficient at whatever you are doing. You don't want to bend yourself and your work to operate within the constraints of the iPad.

    I use the iPad as my mobile computer for meetings, trips, etc because its portability is amazing. Then when I'm at my desk or back home I pull my data off the iPad and finish whatever work I started.
  24. thrill5one6 macrumors regular


    Mar 30, 2010
    The Zaggmate is a keyboard/stand/carrying case that brings you closer to the laptop feel
  25. Reach9 macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2010
    In America
    Well then, i don't think you needed a MacBook in the first place.

    Here's how I see it:

    iMac, iPad, iPhone. To be ideally fine.
    MacBook Pro, iPhone. To be fine.
    MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone. To be useless.
    iMac, MacBook Pro, iPhone. To be fine.
    iMac, MacBook(Pro), iPad, iPhone. Is an overkill, and useless.

    If the iPad replaced your MacBook, then congrats!

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