Virtually every trip I’ve taken since May 2000 has involved me hauling along a laptop computer. I’m a computer consultant by trade, and I’ve considered in a necessity. Sometimes I need to remotely access their Mac, sometimes it’s useful to have a visual. Either way, I’ve lugged 6 or 7 lbs. (once you count up the charger and other accessories) worth of gear everywhere.
This summer I did something novel. Twice, I left the laptop at home and went with an iPad wi-fi instead. My latest three day trip to Los Angeles, California was the clincher since I was able to do everything I needed to do on it. Future trips may involve a laptop, but it’s not automatic and certainly once I have an iPad 3G + Wi-Fi and the iOS is updated to 4.x, I think the laptop is almost done.
In fact, I’ve got to admit that I came away fairly staggered by the experience, because if I computer nerd like me can survive on an iPad, almost anybody can. Within 5 years, 80% to 90% of portables sold will be tablets like the iPad. I’m convinced of it, because the advantages are so incredibly stark. In no particular order:
- Enormous battery life. 10 hours or so right now. Longer if you want to dim the screen, not watch videos, etc.
- Minuscule weight. 1.5 to 1.6 lbs. is nothing to carry.
- Instant on. No long boot up time or wake from sleep. I never shut my iPad off.
- No abstraction layer. You touch what you want. There’s no keyboard or mouse or cursor between you and iPad, and it makes for a more intimate, easier-to-use experience. You don’t have to “speak geek” to be able to use this.
- Best in class experiences. This is strongly related to the lack of an abstraction layer, but I can think of no better way to look at images, play with Google Maps, surf the web or watch video.
- “Anywhere” Internet. My iPad is wi-fi only, but a 3G model (which my next one will be) gives you the Internet virtually anywhere you have cell coverage.
- eBook heaven. I carry the equivalent of several hundred pounds of dead tree books on my iPad. I can search any book, annotate it, highlight text, set bookmarks, change the font size, look up words instantly in a built-in dictionary, and more.
- Social Media nirvana. Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. All the culprits responsible for killing your discretionary time are well-represented on the iPad.
- App coverage: If there’s something I want to do, the odds are good that I can do it. I do genealogy. There’s an app for that. (Reunion.) I want to watch a movie. There’s an app for that. (Netflix.) The list goes on and on.
Right now the biggest limitation for me is relates to Quicken and QuickBooks. I use both programs extensively on the Mac, and the iPad doesn’t have a way for me to make entries or sync them back to the master files on the computer. The best I can do on the iPad right now is to remote into my Mac Pro at home, enter the financial data there, and log off again. It’s a decidedly inconvenient workaround, but it does work.
A few years ago, I said I didn’t think I’d buy another desktop machine. (Obviously wrong since I bought a Mac Pro.) Now I don’t think I’ll be another laptop. I think it’ll just be one iPad after another. I don’t expect to be alone on this either.