Using iPad as main computer

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Caris, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. Caris macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2006
    Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
    Hey all.

    I have a few questions regarding using an iPad as my main computer and was wondering if you could give me some advise.

    To sum up a long story short, I'm going travelling for a year and I've decided only to take my iPad and iPhone with me and sell my MacBook. There are a few reasons for this, but the main thing being the iPad is a much a cheaper and portable device to carry round, plus having AppleCare+ rests my mind incase it gets damaged on all the adventures I'll be taking it on.

    The main concern I have is if I'll need to actually use a desktop for anything. By that I mean things I can literally only do on a full desktop OS. The only thing I've thought of is possibly managing my iTunes account and managing my devices on that. But I don't even know if there is a way I can do yet on the web or iOS. Even possibly through Apple support. Before Apple Music I would have needed a computer to sync my music but will iCloud music libary I can improvise.bice also thought of updating certain speaker/headphones as that's normally done on a desktop, but yet again I can work round that sort of thing I think.

    So can anyone give me any guidance? Has anyone used an iPad as there primary device or been in a situation similar to mine?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. s2mikey macrumors 68020


    Sep 23, 2013
    Upstate, NY
    Not really a similar situation but I think I can speak for most people that the iPad isnt really a "replacement" for a real computer. Sure, it handles everyday tasks and entertainment easily and beautifully. It can also be quite productive. But, take a look at peoples computing arsenal and they almost always have a laptop or desktop at home/work for the heavy lifting.

    Now, being on the go a lot is a little diferent use case, IMO. Thats when you realize you'll be compromising and the easy portability becomes a huge plus. Still - on the road or not, when ya NEED a full-blown PC & operating system, ya NEED one. Hard to work your way around that. You may be able to pull it off.... maybe.
  3. newellj macrumors 603

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    I guess it depends on what you need your "main computer" to do. I have real life experience trying to do professional work with an iPad for a week during the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. I scraped along, but it was a very painful and very unproductive process. It wouldn't be much better today and even the iPad Pro wouldn't really change that, as far as I can tell. YMMV - I needed desktop productivity apps like Word and Excel. If all you want is to browse the web, send emails and download from iTunes, it would probably work.
  4. Undo macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2010
    As long as you have iCloud turned on where you can keep your devices synced and backed up, you might be able to go a year without iTunes.

    Happy trails and safe journeys, by the way! And come back different!!! :)
  5. masotime macrumors 68020


    Jun 24, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    If I needed to do work I'd really rather take a 12" Macbook at minimum. The 12" Macbook is pretty amazing - it feels as portable an iPad while running a full OS.

    Have you considered it at all?
  6. Left4DeadBoy macrumors regular


    Sep 20, 2015
    iPad wasnt made for computer use. If you want to avoid paying Apple then I would just not buy from Apple, flat out.
  7. TechGod macrumors 68040


    Feb 25, 2014
    New Zealand
    Get an 11" MacBook Air? I don't know. I wouldn't risk just using an iPad.
  8. garyleecn macrumors 6502a

    Jul 25, 2014
    How would internet connection be on the trip?

    If you have solid connection then you may wanna consider remote desktoping.
  9. east85 macrumors 65816


    Jun 24, 2010
    It's certainly possible but it would be more useful if you included in your post the things you expect to need from any computer on your trip. I actually have an app on my iPad to access a full computer remotely called Screens VNC. It's somewhat slow though but that is the nature of VNC.
  10. nj-morris macrumors 68000


    Nov 30, 2014
    I've been getting along with an iPad as my main computer for nearly two years, and I'm doing just fine. I'm not sure what tasks you're talking about, but most things that can be done on a laptop can be done on iPad apps.
  11. sjleworthy macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2008
    Penarth, Wales, UK
    as a graphic designer i have 3 super fast multi-core pcs for drafting and rendering, but my ipad is my eyes and ears to the world. it also does all my admin, invoicing, emailing, communications, diarys etc etc. also now, the Pro will be an invaluable drafting tool!
  12. Matthew9559 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 7, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    I would try and come up with all your regular tasks that you use on a day to day basis and see if anything is a big red flag. As others were saying it really depends on your use case. My mom is great with just an iPad because all she does is browse the Internet and email.

    Personally, I'd keep the MacBook to easily store and manage my photos from the journey along the way at the very least. But hey, that's just me. :)
  13. andyw715, Sep 24, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015

    andyw715 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2013
    For me there are 2 things that I'd need to be able to do in order to replace my laptop with a big iPad.
    1) be able to run Visual Studio and all that it requires (.net, sql server)
    2) be able to calibrate the screen for proper photo editing workflow.

    I think it will be a while.

    Edit: My wife, OTOH, has been using a Mini and keyboard exclusively. She uses Pages, Keynote, etc for work and they have AirPlay capable monitors/AppleTV for presentations.
    So YMMV.
  14. ecschwarz macrumors 65816


    Jun 28, 2010
    I think this debate will go on for awhile, but I think with iOS 9, the iPad can replace a computer for a lot more people than in the past. That being said, Federico Viticci over at MacStories has been famously using an iPad as his computer for a lot of things, with an old MacBook Air serving only as his podcasting machine.

    I'd make a list of tasks and see if there are any that can't be done or can't be done easily and go from there. To be honest, even though I still use my work Mac and personal Mac quite a bit, I used to use an iPad 3 for travel and for all of my "at home" computing. I sold it off, waited awhile, and just got an iPad Air 2 and am starting to see my iPad usage outpacing my Mac usage once again.

    For work-related tasks, I wouldn't be able to move to an iPad easily (need a serial port, a few Windows/OS X-only USB tools, and the ability to use Windows), but for personal use, I could see the iPad becoming the primary device for my needs.
  15. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    Your ability to use an iPad as your only "computer" depends on your needs. If you don't need to communicate with other devices (like upgrading the firmware on your favorite Garmin gadget or Escort Radar detector) and you can do your online banking without needing Quicken, then an iPad might work. What the iPad can do, which is 90% of what a computer can do, it does fine. It's those use cases that need connectivity or other apps that are not iOS where the iPad (obviously) falls down. But if you don't need those, then sure, and iPad could work.
  16. kupkakez macrumors 68000


    Apr 4, 2011
    It highly depends on what you use a computer for. This is what I did to help me decide (keep in mind I do go back and forth still sometimes!) list everything I do.

    Things I do on my computer: surf the internet, read online forums, online shopping, online banking, watching YouTube, watch Netflix/Hulu, reading/sending emails, listening to music, listening to podcasts, light editing of pictures.

    That's it. My personal computing needs are beyond basic, so for me an iPad works great PLUS I have the ability to play a ton of games, read eBooks, eMagazines etc.

    A cellular iPad in my opinion is the best option because then you are truly mobile with your "computer" at all times, of course you can tether but I have T-Mobile and parts of the country I go they suck. I stick to AT&T for my data provider on my iPad.

    You just have to sit down and look at all things you do on a computer and see how that would translate on to a tablet.

    EDIT: also I should add you'll find my opinion to be the vast minority haha! This is why only YOU can decide what is best and fits your needs.
  17. digitalcuriosity macrumors 6502

    Aug 6, 2015
    All i can add is if you use a small blue tooth keyboard,it's not like a real full size board. Also without a good file system it's not a simple task to keep track of your work,as with a laptop system. Sure there are work around's but do you really have the time to deal with them.
    iPads are great for some things,but to say they can replace a laptop as a simple to use system i don't feel it can.
  18. TacticalDesire macrumors 68020


    Mar 19, 2012
    Like everyone else said it all depends on what you need to do. I was away from home and thought I could get by with only bringing my iPad and leaving the laptop at home when I hit a brick wall. I typed a document in MS Word on my iPad and needed to upload it to a website for review. Buttt I couldn't, as there was no way to do that on the iPad due to having no filesystem. Granted, the website was kind of archaic and only had the "browse..." button that lets you find your file in the filesytem but that's still a limitation of the iPad others could run into.

    iPads are great light duty machines that can handle 90% of what the average joe would need to do. But there's still too many workarounds or complete omissions of features that keep it from being a full laptop replacement.
  19. Shirtin macrumors regular

    Sep 21, 2015
    My iPad Air 2 128GB Cellular Gold is my main computer....

    then again I don't work
  20. sparksd macrumors 68000

    Jun 7, 2015
    Seattle WA
    I have run into issues similar to others regarding absence of a true file system. In addition, the iPad doesn't work for processing and managing a significant number (i.e., more than a couple) of RAW photo files - this alone means I'll always need a powerful laptop and/or decent desktop.
  21. mtneer macrumors 68030


    Sep 15, 2012
    This maybe a minor nitpick in addition to what everyone has said. If you are travelling to parts of the world with slow/ poor internet connections, the iPad tends to refresh webpages much more often than a typical laptop. So, if you just waited 7 minutes in rural Sri Lanka for your webpage to load, and then you tap to another app for a second and come back - boom, there goes 7 more minutes.
  22. Commy1 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 25, 2013
    I am planning on doing just this for travelling and other purposes. I feel like it's do able, I've been thinking about what I'd be sacrificing and the main thing that comes to mind is simply downloads and full desktop applications for image and video editing.

    The way around music/movie downloads would be simply to go legit, get Spotify and Netflix/Buy off iTunes, pretty simple.
    The full apps, not as easy. I feel like Adobe will update and release new versions which will creep closer and closer to desktop capability, but how long that takes is beyond me. I guess one reason why I feel more comfortable with it is because my gf is going to keep her rmbp for the foreseeable future, I'd be able to fall back on that if absolutely needed.

    As everyone has said, based on your needs it could be a blessing or a curse. For blogging, vlogging, minor image editing and posting and simply staying connected, I think it's totally worth it. For anything else, maybe look into a smaller Macbook?
  23. s2mikey macrumors 68020


    Sep 23, 2013
    Upstate, NY
    That about sums it up. Plenty of people can and do use only an iPad. But, for many of us there is still laptop in the house somewhere for a reason. ;)
  24. Undo macrumors member

    Feb 22, 2010
    Agreed. If you (the OP) don't sell your current Macbook, then when you get back home after your year away, I think you'll be glad you still have it. (Unless you plan to buy a new one next year.) But as others have mentioned, that doesn't necessarily mean you need to take it with you.

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