iPad’s Place

When I posted about using an external keyboard with my iPad, I was questioned about whether I didn’t really need a laptop.  That brings up the whole question about where the iPad fits into the whole scheme of personal computing.

I can only talk about my computing needs, but after four days, the iPad is definitely finding its place.

I have used a laptop for a long time.  I still have a stack of old, cold, and dusty laptops here in my office that I haven’t gotten rid of.  Most of them are on the small, lightweight side.  With the exception of my Newton days, I have carried a laptop around with me for years, taking advantage of small moments to work on my stories.

Everything changed when I got an iPhone.  Easily half of the little tasks, and even first draft writing, could be done on the little computer in my pocket.  I’ve written at least a 100,000 words tapping away at my iPhone’s keyboard.  My laptop usage changed, as it spent more and more of its time on my desk, tethered to external hard drives and specialty printers.  My little laptop became a medium sized, high power laptop, better able to handle Photoshop and InDesign, and the e-book making tools.  I can and do unplug it, stow it in the utility bag, and carry it off to various events, but I won’t take it to read an ebook in bed or watch a video in the living room.  It’s too much trouble.

The iPad is slipping right into that easy mobility slot.  Forget unplugging and packing, I just pick it up.  And it’s capabilities are mid-range, much more powerful than the iPhone.  I can write rough draft text on the iPhone, but editing is a pain.  With Pages, I can edit final draft copy, complete with text styles and enough text on the screen to get a comfortable feel for context.  Of course, when it comes time to format for publication, I need the full power of the laptop, but my editing time has become so much easier and mobile.  And I do carry it to bed to read an e-book before going to sleep.