Mac+phone or mac+ipad+phone?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by PeterJP, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. PeterJP macrumors 6502

    PeterJP

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Location:
    Leuven, Belgium
    #1
    I just started a job that involves a long commute by train. Perfect to get things done, but I don't like how I have to do it now. The work I'd do on the train is mainly mail, Trello, surfing and some light Word/Excel work. I can postpone most heavylifting until I'm in the office. My mac and phone are due for replacement in the next year or so, so I have all options open.

    I have a large phone (Nexus 6p, sams size as an iPhone 8 plus) and a 2013 MBP 13". The phone is too small to get any real work done and it gives me a strained neck. On the other hand, it's clumsy to get the mac out on a train because it's rather unwieldy. So I've been exploring a number of options.

    I can buy an iPad and do my work on it. I'm trying that out with my son's Android tablet right now. Disadvantages: I can't properly put it down anywhere (trains without tables, sheesh :p) so I have to type with one hand. That's the same with my phone, but the tablet's screen is bigger and easier to read. The neck still hurts, though, because the tablet is on my lap. In this setup, I could opt for a smaller and cheaper phone (eg. iPhone 8), which is an advantage. For the heavylifting in the office, I could get a 15" MBP later but stick with my current mac for the time being. That's cheap in the short run.

    Another option is to skip the tablet and to go for a macbook. The advantage is that I'd just lug around one machine, whnch weighs less and is for less expensive. With the keyboard in my lap, it sits higher than an iPad, which reduces neck strain. The disadvantage is that I'm worried it won't be enough for some of my work in the office, which involves occasional VMs, possibly Premiere and Lightroom as my hobby. It would still allow me to get a smaller phone because for everything else, I'd use the macbook. But the immediate purchase of a macbook is a bit painful, because my MBP is still good enough.

    What would you do? Get an iPad? Or do you have other ideas or tips?
     
  2. MandiMac macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2012
    #2
    These are areas where the iPad truly excels at. In your shoes, I'd try going iPad in combination with your current MBP. (The current 15-incher MBP feels too overpriced for me.) The MacBook, however, would be sleek and small, and while you could use it easier on the train, I'd feel like that's wasted money because you have a MBP that's basically for the same use case and better suited for work.
     
  3. PeterJP thread starter macrumors 6502

    PeterJP

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Location:
    Leuven, Belgium
    #3
    Yeah, getting a macbook would feel like a bit of a waste because I already have one that works perfectly fine. I borrowed my son's Android tablet for my commute to see how that works out. So far, it's nice to have the larger screen but typing is really hard. Most of the trains I take don't have tables so I need to hold it with one hand. Still, working on a laptop would be nearly impossible, so I guess it's not the worst.
     
  4. MandiMac macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2012
    #4
    I guess typing is something you'll get used to. Then again, typing on a new iPad versus typing on an Android tablet (which one is it, by the way?) feels like worlds apart, too.
     
  5. PeterJP thread starter macrumors 6502

    PeterJP

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Location:
    Leuven, Belgium
    #5
    I'm curious about that. Do you mean that the Apple virtual keyboard is better than the Android ones?

    I haven't used regular QWERTY-style virtual keyboards a lot. I tried them on several occasions and I find them awkward. I'm a touch typist, so I need to feel where my fingers are on the keys. Also, it's very hard to type with two hands on a regular QWERTY layout when the device is on my lap. That's true not just for tablets, but also for laptops. I feel like I need to bend my arms too low, which bumps my elbows into the seat. As I said before, the trains I take have no tables, so the lap is almost the only option.

    On my phone, I'm using an alternative one-handed keyboard: MessagEase. I find it also works great on the Android tablet when it's in portrait mode because I just need one hand to type. No need for a table: I hold the tablet in my left hand and type with my right one. MessagEase is great because it offers cursor control and lots of exotic characters (€, &, ...) within easy reach. It also doesn't offer auto-correct, which I'm naturally suspicious of because I switch language a lot, even mid-sentence. That's the curse of working in local languages in a tech field with lots of English jargon. But in landscape, MessagEase is weird because it's designed to be small.

    I'm considering using my laptop only for the "more serious" work and to switch to an iPad Pro with an external keyboard for those situations where I don't have to hold it. The Smart Keyboard turns the device too much into a laptop, so I was looking at a magic keyboard + Canopy or something like that. But before I do that, I'm going to test-run the tablet a bit more.
     
  6. MandiMac macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2012
    #6
    Yes, and by far. It's true that one needs to feel where the keys are (I feel you completely on that point), but you can split the keyboard on your iPad. It takes some time getting used to, but in constrained places it is better than any alternative I know. I'm with you about the Smart Keyboard turning the iPad in something laptop-esque, that is something that irks me as well. Concerning your choice: Why not giving the iPad (Pro?) you want a shot, try around for a bit, and if it does not work out, just return it in the 14-day window?
     
  7. PeterJP thread starter macrumors 6502

    PeterJP

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Location:
    Leuven, Belgium
    #7
    I didn't know about the keyboard split. That looks practical, indeed. I guess the new smart folio (without keyboard) can also help in positioning the iPad in smaller spaces.

    Good idea about trying it out within the return period. I don't have the habit of thinking in that way. Just checked: in the EU, we also have 14 days to return purchases not bought in a shop, no reason given. I might wait until the 7th gen iPad is announced, but after comparing the current one with the 11" Pro, I have to say I was blown away by the Pro. If I'm going to use it as much as I'm expecting, might as well go pro.

    Thanks for all the tips!
     
  8. MandiMac macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2012
    #8
    As an avid user of a 2nd generation iPad Pro 12,9", I had the same thoughts as you in terms of adapting workflows. It worked out fine for me :) Just make sure to keep us updated when you try the iPad Pro (or regular one), will be nice to hear from you if it worked out for you as well. All the best from Austria!
     
  9. PeterJP thread starter macrumors 6502

    PeterJP

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Location:
    Leuven, Belgium
    #9
    I just took a break from work to visit the Apple reseller. Tested split screen, split keyboard and the feel in hand on both the 9.7 and the 11. Man, that 11 Pro is one sexy machine. They're about identical in hand (the 9.7 may be a bit nicer with the curve at the back, but it's splitting hairs) but the screen and the responsiveness were so much nicer on the 11. I'm going to make a case for myself to get the 11 without LTE :)

    I checked with the shop staff about 14-day returns and they dryly replied that that was possible online :)
     
  10. MandiMac macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2012
    #10
    Well then, all the best to you! May the iPad work out for you :)
     
  11. Euroamerican, Feb 6, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019

    Euroamerican macrumors regular

    Euroamerican

    Joined:
    May 27, 2010
    Location:
    Boise
    #11
    I tell you what: The immediacy of "instant on" and the ease of using a lightweight, and "walkable" device is really what I love about the iPad. I have an iPad with cellular service on it...

    I have to carry a laptop for work to do administrative tasks for customers such as AD membership changes, requesting local admin rights for PCs , checking workflow queues and the service desk system. I'd love to be able to do all of that on an iPad. It's a pain to have to open up the laptop, turn it on, and just plain carry it around and keep the battery topped off. Luckily, the company I work for maintains a very powerful, easy to connect to, and reliable wifi network with a VPN. The issues of "connecting" are luckily not there for me, so I'd be more annoyed if I had to also do that sort of thing via public Wifi.

    1st world problem, but I think you would like an iPad added to your tool belt.
     
  12. PeterJP thread starter macrumors 6502

    PeterJP

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Location:
    Leuven, Belgium
    #12
    In the end, I got an 11 Pro with 4G and 64GB. I'm using it on the train over 4G right now. It fit into my workflow quickly because I worked on it a bit. I prepare mentally to replace my paper notebook and I immediately bought GoodNotes. It was a bit of discipline to use it consistently, but doing so from the start has really worked. It's a great machine and I've lightened up my bag by around 2kg.

    I'm also surprised by how good the Apple keyboard is. Word prediction is pretty good, particularly compared to Android. I'm still using MessagEase from time to time for one handed typing. But my main keyboard for mails etc is the Apple one. That said, I write on it with the pen even more.

    I also got the plain Apple folio (no keyboard) and it's brilliant.

    Thanks for all the advice!
     
  13. Gator1pk macrumors member

    Gator1pk

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2013
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale
    #13
    New iPhone and new iPad. No need to upgrade MacBook Pro. The iPad can be Wi-fi only. And use the iPhone’s hotspot to link the iPad. Using Apple ecosystem is great. Handoff between devices, that includes your MacBook. I can’t hold my iPad on my lap, I hold it like a book. Look at the various iPad models and I would pick the lightest one, for easier holding for extended periods of time.
     
  14. MandiMac macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2012
    #14
    Congratulations! Seems like you've made a choice that turned out to make you happy. :)
     

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