Using the iPad as your main computer

Using the iPad as you main computer

Over at Technologizer, Harry McCracken has posted his thoughts on how the iPad 2 has become his favorite computer, and number one device for professional content creation. Something he's been using it for for the last 3 months.

With the iPad [...] you can devote nearly every second of your time to the task at hand, rather than babysitting a balky computer. I don’t feel like I’m “using an iPad to write.” I’m just writing. It’s a far more tranquil, focused experience than using a PC or Mac. It’s also easier to dive in, do a bit of work as time allows, then dive out–especially since the iPad’s instant-on feature is more reliably instant than the alleged instant-on capabilities of traditional computers.

I know I gravitate to my iPad for the more mundane stuff like reading emails, looking up information, responding to SMS with iMessages, and writing up this blog post. But I still go to my iMac to for more fine grained control and power computing.

McCracken, however, uses his iPad 2 with a hardware keyboard and likes it better than his MacBook Air for computing on-the-go because of the built in 3G connectivity and much longer battery life.

Check out McCracken's full article for a list of accessories and apps he uses, and a description of how he uses them, then come back here and tell us what you think -- is the iPad getting closer to replacing your traditional computer?

Source: Technologizer


Anthony is an IT administrator, retro gamer, and accessory reviewer for iMore.

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There are 57 comments. Add yours.

Chris Owens says:

YOUR main computer. C'mon, guys.

Michael says:

Yeah...this site definitely needs some better writers/editors.

Me says:

The rest of the article isn't much better.

DntMakeMeLaugh says:

iPad as a computer?!
Let me just burn a DVD, oh hang in a second, I'm a lame dimwit with an iPad as a computer.
Fuck off

Devon Henderson says:

You should work on your reading comprehension. "Main computer" is the computer one uses most of the time. So, it's not necessarily the computer with the most capabilities, but the one a person reaches for to do most tasks. This will of course depend on what one does with their computer, and won't work for everyone. So, if you're someone who still lives in 2002 and burns DVDs, it's obviously not going to work for you.

Iphonedoo says:

I remember when I was 11 and a half and burned DVDs. Good times.

cyberbob says:

I'll bet you are upset that you can't hook your VCR up to it and transfer your VHS movies to that DVD burner too...

OrionAntares#CB says:

I'm upset I can't plug in an SD card to swap various file types easily...

SteveW928 says:

I actually wish it had a more accessible file system. While I don't have much use for SD cards, even when using 'the cloud' (ie: Dropbox), it becomes a bit of a kludge experience to do everything through some file management app like GoodReader (as cool as it is). That said, for simplicity when working with an app and it's own documents, it's pretty simple and great now with iCloud.

Devon Henderson says:

Apple actually has an adapter for that. It plugs into the charger port. Don't know if you knew that or not, but I personally just found out a few weeks ago when walking through an Apple store.
And don't say any blah-blah about how it should be built in, blah blah. I hate the lone hole in the iPhone -- the charging port. If I had another slot to clean crap out of I'd lose my mind, personally.

SteveW928 says:

Devon has a good point about what 'main' means. While I do actually use my iPad more than my desktop (actually, my laptop hooked to an external display... but same thing essentially... which will get replaced with a mini soon), there are a few things I use the desktop for that the iPad doesn't do well. I'd guess most people with iPads have (or have access to) another computer. While I haven't burned a DVD for quite a long time, I can still do that on my desktop if I should ever need to. For being portable, unless you're a power user, I think the iPad has some powerful advantages over a laptop.

SteveW928 says:

Two words: Who cares?
I actually have Skyfire and CloudBrowse (Skyfire to watch Flash media, CloudBrowse should some idiot web designer actually build a Flash interface to a web-site), but I very rarely use them. Nearly any content that is Flash now has HTML5 serving as well, so the iPad just gets that version (PC people probably don't notice, as they still get the Flash version) and the number of web-sites with Flash interfaces or tools is very small (thankfully). I don't think I've fired either up for several months (as helpful as both apps are if you need Flash).
And then, there is the fact that Flash on android or other tablets/phones REALLY REALLY sucks (both in usability and battery life of the device). We're actually grateful there is no Flash. And, not that Adobe has dropped mobile Flash... all you Flash-feature braggers better start looking for something else to brag about. I'd go with open-y if I were you... LOL.

GreenDize12 says:

Not a chance that the iPad is a computer replacement. I'm still in the market for another Laptop.

David Baez says:

I hardly use my computer at home always on my ipad. It has everything I need.

Mw says:

I have a laptop and a desktop and neither one of them gets used anymore. I use my iPad for everything. The iPad doesn't need flash. The iPad uses its space very efficiently. I have over 1000 songs and 40 apps and im only using 10 gigs of space. Icloud is your flash drive. Not everybody has the need to burn a DVD.
By the way (two words: flash drive) <-- that's 4 words

Paul says:

No one, until you need to use a website that requires it, as often happens to me at work.
Frankly the crippled browser is the one thing that keeps me from being able to rely on my iPad for all my mobile computing. I can work around just about every other obstacle.

Devon Henderson says:

I wouldn't blame the iPad for the fact that despite the release of HTML5, and the fact that Flash has been generally hated for years, some websites still refuse progress in favor of living in the past. Flash is and always was clunky and a resource hog. Hopefully we'll see websites ditch Flash, especially since it's looking like even Adobe doesn't want to support it anymore.

Paul says:

That's a decent point, but when I need to use a website and I can't do it on my iPad it's little consolation that it is the website's fault and not Apple's. The bottom line is it doesn't work, regardless of who is at fault. And until it does work for every site I visit that's an obstacle to the iPad being a complete laptop replacement.

SteveW928 says:

Paul, hopefully the day of having to worry about that will be over soon. But, if you run into a Flash site and want to be able to use your iPad, try CloudBrowse. If it is just video you're encountering... many sites with Flash video also serve out an HTLM5 version if you are on an iPad, or would work with SkyFire. But, as I noted in an above post, I hardly ever run into either these days anymore (but, realize that for what some do, they might).

OrionAntares#CB says:

I wouldn't blame the iPad either. I'd blame the people that decided to handy cap the iPad for no TRULY justifiable reason.

Devon Henderson says:

Progress isn't a reason? Flash BLOWS, dude. You're acting like all of those people who had VHS players and whined when movies began to be released only on DVD. Really? Now Flash is dying, in lieu of HTML5, a much, MUCH better alternative that does the same damn thing (and more), mostly because of Apple's giant leap of faith. They had to cross their fingers that people would see their side and realize that, yeah, Flash is old and monopolized and that we don't need it anymore. Even Adobe is seeing it.

Devon Henderson says:

Man, you must really hate iPads if you're willing to create two usernames to say the same complaint twice... troll much? :)

Bky20855 says:

I love my ipad, but using it as my main computer is just ridiculous.

Devon Henderson says:

Main = used for most tasks. It doesn't mean it has the most capabilities.

ebtrumpet says:

You didn't read @Bob Autrey's comment slowly enough. He's arguing with the first guy...

John H says:

Its is a great main computer for the web browsing crowd or the app game players that only need to update Facebook.. But if you actually use a computer for really work that requires, Office, citrix, Adobe PDF writer, data encryption or any other Big boy work software then no it is not a replacement... take your ipad and go to starbucks and look cool, I have to go to work now.

Guest says:

Whoaaaaa someone thinks hes pretty cool. Get bent moron.

cardfan says:

That's pretty much it.
What i take away from a lot of these comments is that many people simply don't really use their computers beyond web browsing or IMing. Never have. Of course an ipad is suitable for them then.

deviantdj says:

I find myself using my laptop less and less. I am an IT Professional, I can remote into any machine using my iPad and do the heavy work that needs to be done. Whilst being anywhere. It's simply and efficient, yes I will agree there a plenty of things I can't do. But it's about what I can accomplish without having to lug a laptop about. And everyday that list is growing bigger.

SteveW928 says:

For me, it's not even so much about lugging the laptop, as it is being free from power all day and having such a quick on / input data / off ability.

Paul says:

Interesting article, but I truly don't understand the part about "babysitting a balky computer" or bragging about the lack of distractions on an iPad. On my computer if I want to write a document I open Word and start typing. I don't understand why the author feels there are obstacles to that.
And if anything there are more distraction threats on my iPad than on my computer. There are no Words with Friends or News 360 icons on my computer's desktop.
And as the author admits, one of the failings of his Macbook Air -- broadband connectivity -- is foreign to PC laptop users who have enjoyed the benefits of internal 3G cards for quite awhile now.
Still, I agree with the premise overall that once you find the right hardware and software tools the iPad can be ALMOST a complete laptop replacement. I've been trying to do the same thing for my job, and so far I've only had to power on the laptop a few times.

west3man says:

3G on laptops has always been far more expensive an 3G on an iPad, unless there have been changes to the $70-80 fee (not counting any hardware you may need to receive the data). I don't know what e data caps might be, if any, but it's dead simple and relatively cheap (not to mention unlimited) on my iPad. That's one of the main reasons I prefer it over my pc in some instances.
Otherwise, I could see some people, writers, for instance, being satisfied with just the iPad most of the time, for content creation. Then there are the times one needs to read or burn a disc or print to an unnetworked pc or some such thing.
Most of the time, my iPad is enough. I guess that makes it qualify as my "main" computer. I dunno.

OrionAntares#CB says:

The fees are the same.
The hardware is cheaper for just the single PC.

SteveW928 says:

I'm more of a teacher than a writer professionally, though I do a LOT of writing as well. Word, itself, is a distraction to writers, so if you don't understand that, you probably won't get why an iPad would be less a distraction than a desktop or laptop.
It's the simplicity of it all, that I would guess the author is referring to. You can just push the power and within a second be typing your thoughts within a simple interface, and just as quickly power it off when finished. It's much more convenient to get out when you have a few moments waiting, etc. And, with more than all-day power, you don't have to lug the laptop extras or really worry about it at all.
Yes, there are actually a good number of things I do on my desktop, but nothing really I do any more while mobile that an iPad can't replace my laptop for.

Oldandintheway says:

Until I can import videos from my video camcorder to the iPad I'll be using a computer. Bring iMovie and video import to the iPad.

Guest says:

So...the take away is that with a few accessories, you can use it to 85% of what is needed to be a blogger.
Huzzah, huzzah.

Mike says:

The iPad is a great device for what it's meant to be used for but its no computer. I'd love to be able to work on my iPad but the usability just isn't there. You just can't type quickly enough on it without carrying a separate keyboard (which then defeats its purpose), even if Photoshop was available on it you couldn't be as precise on it, and there isn't enough space to store enough files for my needs. (web development)

SteveW928 says:

re: keyboard - IMO, it doesn't defeat the purpose. Having an external keyboard in your pack, it is still lighter than a laptop. And, while I can't type as fast without my BT keyboard, I can at least type. For most types of interaction, short of serious writing, that works well enough.
re: web dev - I agree. I do most of my web development on my desktop. However, I do most of everything else, now, on the iPad... especially my mobile tasks.
re: computer - it's really a computer, just not as powerful as many of the laptops (CPU-wise) of today (GPU-wise, it is more powerful than some). When compared to a machine of, say, 5 years ago... it's not that far off... probably faster overall. The main impediment to some of the desktop apps, especially content creation ones, isn't the power of it (or it not being a 'computer'), but of UI and screen space. Some of those issues will be worked around, but most content creation folks need the screen space. Laptops severely limit them too (which is why they do most of their work on desktops).

tys says:

I pretty much stopped using my laptop when I got my iPhone in 2007 and stopped using it completely by the time I got the 3gs.
My desktop now mainly serves as a tool for syncing, backing up, and jailbreaking my iDevices. I also use still use it as a TV (with eyeTV). I don't see myself ever buying another old-fashioned computer. I ditched my home internet and just use my iPad and iPhone 3G plans.
So yes, I'm definitely in the iPad as primary computer camp!
I certainly understand that there are some things it can't do, or can't do well, but for me, they don't apply.
Regarding some of the other comments: I DO use it for real work (medical charting via citrix). I don't miss Flash at all. I haven't burned a DVD since 2004.

cardfan says:

Sounds like you barely used your computer or had very limited needs of it.

Ben Bipes says:

Well, since Adobe has no iOS version of it's software, I am forced to use my MacBook and iMac for design projects, but I am starting to use my iPad more and more at home when I am surfing the web, shopping, gaming, and messaging friends and family. Keeps my other machines less cluttered.

Dev says:

It's still an issue -- just, for most of us, that issue rises to the level of "mildly inconveniencing" rather than "crippling."
I will miss Flash, as it had some legitimately very nice uses and applications.
Actually, I will not miss that so much as the fact that it was nice to have 95% of the annoyances in the web shunted off into a little plugin that could be easily avoided.

SteveW928 says:

Have you ever tried using one of those Flash interfaced apps on an Android tablet? It don't really work there either. As far as mobile goes... Flash is primarily a video delivery mechanism, which on some high percentage of sites is also available in HTML5 as well.

OrionAntares#CB says:

Seriously, hasn't he heard of Blu-ray???

Dpaolellaiii says:

My cousin Was recently looking to buy anew computer. When she contacted me about which Mac to get I analyzed her usage and determined that since she mainly listens to music stores photos and browses the Internet, then an ipad2 with a camera connection kit would be more than sufficient for her. That teamed with iCloud storage, and I saved her a few hundred dollars and she got a "computer" that fit her just right.

OrionAntares#CB says:

It's also missing a JAVA plug-in.

Igrar says:

iPad will be a real computer substitute only if it will attach files to email messages. I dont need a computer in which I cannot reply to a particular email message with several attachments.

Bilbo says:

you can do that with any android tablet btw. just saying...

Wardo says:

This is hands down the dumbest thread I've ever read. Who the F cares? If you want to use an iPad as your "main computer", knock yourself out. If its to weak to do what you need, then use an f'n PC. This is kinda like saying "I traded in my Ford F350 for a Smart Car". If you're 4' tall and don't need to ever drive more than one person around, good for you. If you need to do real work, get the truck. Stop wasting bandwidth arguing about it for God's sake!

Cmflyer says:

You can only do real work with a pick-em-up truck? Redneck.

Peter Rafferty says:

I can see more people moving to more mobile devices such as the iPad, tablets and phones in general. Could he still use the iPad on an every day basis though without that keyboard?

Ska2014 says:

Eww who still uses DVDs? Download that shit