iPad as my main computer:Ready or Not

Discussion in 'iPad' started by zap2, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. zap2 macrumors 604


    Mar 8, 2005
    Washington D.C
    So I recently returned my MacBook Pro Core i5 due to hardware issues over the past two months. My local Apple Store didn't have an Airs with 4GB of RAM, so I had to order online.

    Where that leaves me regarding computer usage for the next week or two, is my iPad. Now, I do go to college so I have access to a few libraries and I work in one of the tech offices for the college, so I have computers I can use there.

    So over the next few weeks, I'll be updating the thread(assuming people find it interesting)

    Last night was my first night without a Mac, and everything went pretty well. I was able to do everything I normally do without issue minus one big hick up. My friend who goes to college about 8 hours away wanted to video chat using Skype. She was missing home and friends from that area, so she actually wanted to see someone's face. I took my roommates MacBook Pro and video chatted with it, he wasn't overly happy, but he survived.

    This morning, I had a paper due I had forgotten about. Luckily I had emailed a copy to a fellow student to give me feedback on. I found the email, opened it up in Pages made a few edits, reformated and sent it off to my Professor as a .doc. And then I went to the library where I read Freakonomic in iBooks and browsed the web. Another day where my iPad wasn't a burden as a computer replacement, but actually worked better then a laptop in some cases. I have my files backed up on external HDD, so I can get to them from a borrowed computer, but hopefully from here on out, all my needed papers will be on my iPad, which is where of course all my word processing will be done.

    Has anyone else done this? Or just thoughts? Am I going to end up borrowing my roommates computer a lot or running to the library/work to borrow a Mac there or is the iPad going to cover my needs?
  2. Don Kosak macrumors 6502a

    Don Kosak

    Mar 12, 2010
    Hilo, Hawaii
    It will be interesting to hear your experiences.

    I've used my iPad as my sole computer on several long trips. It worked out pretty well, especially with how light and simple it is. (I brought just the folding USB charger and iPad.)

    I have Pages and Numbers and use iWork.com to share things. It's free from Apple right now. You can send Pages/Numbers files to iWork in all 3 formats (PDF, iWork, and DOC/XLS).

    Since you have access to school computers for printing, you should be in pretty good shape.

    Sometimes I get a little worried about backups when I just have the iPad and no computer to sync/backup to. I make sure to save stuff on iDisk/Dropbox or iWork.com in case something happens to the iPad.

    I have an iPhone for FaceTime, so I don't miss having a camera on the iPad. That is a drawback if it's your only device.
  3. wolfpackfan macrumors 68000

    Jun 10, 2007
    Cary, NC
    My iPad could easily be my only computer except for one need I have - Quicken. Other than Quicken I never use my Mac mini anymore. In fact I've basically turned it over to my wife to use except for updating Quicken every day or so and I use VNC to connect to do that.
  4. Full of Win macrumors 68030

    Full of Win

    Nov 22, 2007
    Ask Apple
  5. petvas macrumors 601


    Jul 20, 2006
    Mannheim, Germany
    The ipad isn't meant to be used like that! It is a great device and I love it, but you shouldn't be trying to use it like a full computer.
    Can you please tell me how you are going to be making updates to the iPad?
    You need a computer for that, don't you?
    What about converting movies, editing video, creating long documents, editing photos? There is no way you are going to manage all that with just an iPad.
    As I said, I love my ipad and I use it daily for many hours, but we shouldn't be trying to exaggerate.
  6. Tom G. macrumors 68010

    Tom G.

    Jun 16, 2009
    Champaign/Urbana Illinois
    I use my iPad quite a bit and do most of my photo editing on it. I shoot very little to no video so I don't know about editing it on the ipad, but I find that there are enough photo apps to do my photo editing on the iPad.

    I do write my sermons on an iPad, they are normally 2000 to 2500 words long. I realize that is not considered a long paper by some standards but it shows that writing papers on an iPad is certainly possible. In another thread it was shown that there are apps available to help with the footnotes etc that are required for college papers.

    The Numbers app, and several others like it, are more powerful than I think you give them credit for.

    Other than updating your iPad I think that the OP will not have that hard of a time of it. However, he is only going to be without his MacBook for about two weeks or so, therefore I don't think he will have too much of a problem with updating.

    I look forward to more updates from him.
  7. TorontoLRT macrumors 6502

    Jun 4, 2010
    Toronto, Duh!
    I used my iPad as my main computer when my laptop was glitched and desktop was in for upgrade, or about two weeks.
  8. steezy1337 macrumors 6502

    Dec 29, 2008
    Carlisle, UK
    This is why it's good to have the triple combo of an iMac,iPad and MacBook :p I'll be keeping an eye on this thread to see how OP manages, I think that ipads could quite easily be the perfect computer for college students depending on their courses.
  9. jmmo20 macrumors 65816

    Jun 15, 2006
    Well he's not trying to exaggerate anything: he's saying he ordered a macbook air online and while he waits for it he would have no choice but to use his ipad as the one and only computing device.
  10. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    I think this is a fun "experiment" - like the time my MacBook Pro went in for service and I was stuck on an old iBook G3 (I think in some ways an iPad may be more capable). Good luck!

    Also, despite the iPad not "designed for that", I think a number of folks could get by with just an iPad as their "computer" - especially some older individuals who only want/need basic web browsing, email, etc. and don't want a computer to maintain. My girlfriend's mom is in the market for a new computer, but doesn't really need a whole lot and doesn't want to learn much - I'm leaning towards an iPad...

    You say "What about updates?" - if you have any sort of computer that it could connect to on a semi-regular basis (every month? every other month?) for updates and backups (more for peace of mind on the backups, really), an iPad could make a good basic "computer"
  11. thelookingglass macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    I have no doubt that this is where we're eventually headed with the iPad. Perhaps not in this exact form factor, but in something that can be carried anywhere, is instant on and always connected to the Internet.

    Having said all that, there's no way I could use my ipad as my sole computer at this point. For starters, there's no Word compatible app that allows me to use or even view the track changes function in Word that so many of us use these days. I can, however, remote access into my desktop where I can view and make edits pretty easily.

    My gripes are just software failures and given that the ipad is barely six months old, I have no doubt that these software failures will be addressed.But as Steve Jobs mentioned, time takes care of a lot of this.

    So could it be my sole computer right now? No. In two years though? I wouldn't be surprised.
  12. Mirai 11 macrumors 6502

    Mirai 11

    Aug 3, 2005
    What puzzles me, is that right now, iPad and iPhone are very alike, and the only difference is of the bigger screen. so if you have an iphone, why not use that as your main computer? :p
  13. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Uh... Bigger screen. :D
  14. Karnivore macrumors 6502


    Apr 22, 2010
    I tried using iPad as the only computer and didn't succeed.
  15. wheelgl500 macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2010
    Peoria Il, USA
    Substitute for editing Word docs

    I also am experimenting with how far I can take the iPad as my only computer. You might check an app "Always on PC". It gives you a virtual desktop (Fedora) with Firefix and Open Office. I've used it for editing some .doc files...but better yet, since I have access to Firefox, flash is not a problem!
  16. MXSkier62 macrumors regular

    Dec 4, 2006
    I think you're gonna find it to be a lot easier than you think. I have an imac and iPad (bought both of the them to replace my 2006 blackbook), and since i mostly consume media content rather than make it, i find the ipad to be fantastic. Im in medical school, and after discovering a few more apps yesterday, im almost ready to completely replace my notebooks with my iPad too.

    The only thing that i would like a little better is downloading Pdf files to the ipads PDF reading apps, such as good reader, from the web.

    Hopefully with ios 5 they will incorporate the ability to make file folders on the home screen. But i think that unless you're doing huge amounts of creations, the ipad is fine for being the main computer.
  17. klover macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2009
    My iPad has been only home computer (or device) for the last three months. Here are a few observations:

    1. Jailbreaking helps. With the Display Out App (via Cydia) I can sent the iPad's display to my Dell monitor. This makes surfing, writing in Pages, etc. much easier for extended periods of time.

    The VGA adapter really benefits from a jail broken iPad because it's so limited otherwise.

    2. BT Keyboard is mandatory. I use the official Apple model and being able to "wake" the ipad by tapping a key is a nice feature. Brightness and music control via the function keys is great.

    3. USB/SD add-on is optional but reccomended. If you plan on posting photo on websites, sharing them via email, etc. you should have this nearby. Also provides some limited USB support for drives, etc. with a jailbreak.

    4. Flash. Probably the most noticeable day-to-day feature that is missing. I can't enter my McDonald's Monopoly pieces online.... :) But, this is thankfully limited to a few sites that I visit on occasion.

    Anyway, it can be done with some adaptation (of both your Ipad and your computing habits).

    The simplicity of the iPad easily outweighs some of the missing features. I love just clicking my spacebar and having the iPad spring to life. An internet search is about 3 seconds away at any moment. Pages is a robust word processor that I use daily as a writer. Granted, some higher-level functions are missing (footnotes, etc.) but I can always touch things up at work.

    I also love that using the iPad exclusively clears so much clutter from my desk. When I'm done, I just slip the iPad under a shelf and have all the room I need.
  18. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Goodreader does let you download PDF from the web -- are you saying you wished the download function worked better? :confused:
  19. Moyank24 macrumors 601


    Aug 31, 2009
    in a New York State of mind

    I highly recommend it for your girlfriend's mother. My mom, who is definitely a technophobe, has had one for about 3 months. She uses it for her e-mail, her facebook, e-reading, and some basic web browsing. She had a Nook for a month or so before the iPad, and she hasn't touched it since.

    It really does open up a whole new world for light users who don't want to bother with the hassle of learning or lugging around a laptop.
  20. zap2 thread starter macrumors 604


    Mar 8, 2005
    Washington D.C
    Thanks for the advice guys!!

    I definetly agree, the Bluetooth keyboard is a must. It's really a life saver. For the question of long documents, no doubts the Bluetooth keyboard along with Pages fills that role. As for editing video and photos, I don't actually do a ton of that. My smartphone acts as my camera.

    I definitely like the idea of buying the USB/SD card reader, I might head down to Apple to day to pick that up.

    Jailbreak support for displays sounds quite nice! The only down side is right now I don't have an external display, so no huge rush there.

    Lack of flash hasn't really come up, Netflix and Hulu Plus app have worked very well so far. We'll see how it goes over time.

    The updating the OS is a very good point, one I had overlooked. The posters who pointed out that I'll only be without a laptop for 2 weeks are right, basically the solution for upgrades is wait it out(although I'm not expecting any huge iOS upgrades in that time period.
  21. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    I used an iPhone 4 as a primary computer for a 4-day weekend one time. Mix in the Apple wireless keyboard and it is pretty capable. There were a few things I wanted my computer for, but I still got by.
  22. yuanmoons macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2008
    Apart from the obvious, why is a BT keyboard a must?
    Dont you like the onboard keyboard?
    How do you position the ipad when you use the keyboard?
  23. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 8, 2007
    Saratoga, CA
    One option to keep in mind if you have to be without your computer for an extended period of time is to clone the hard drive ahead of time onto a compact portable drive. If you can borrow another computer, you can just boot it from your clone drive and it's just about like having your own computer back. That will allow you to update your iPad, sync new movies/music, etc. Later, when you and your computer are reunited, you can copy the updated clone back to your internal drive.

    This approach saved me when my MacBook Pro died. Fortunately, part of my backup procedure is to make a nightly clone with SuperDuper!
  24. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Typing from the Bluetooth keyboard is easier, especially since it gives you arrow and tab keys to navigate around a document. That said, however, I'm finding myself leaving my Bluetooth keyboard home most of the time. For me, the convenience of having a physical keboard is outweighted by the extra bulk. Sure, it takes a bit longer to type on the on-screen keyboard, but it feels so much easier just to pop the iPad into its sleeve and go, than to stop and get a bag to hold both the iPad and the keyboard.

    Oh, and I have a lightweight foldable wire stand to prop up my iPad when I use it with the Bluetooth keyboard, but of course that's yet another thing to carry.

    ~typed on iPad on screen keyboard ;)
  25. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    I'll second the on-screen keyboard being adequate. I do all my writing with iA Writer, which even adds some extra keys to the standard iPad keyboard. It takes some getting used to the lack of tactile feedback, but once you trust your key positions, you'll be fine. I've found leaving the key "click" on helps (I turned it off on my iPhone though).

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