Not too long ago, I wrote that I would attempt to replace my MacBook Pro with my iPad mini. I decided I would give this a try because there have been a few articles written about the iPad, making it seem like the device has no practical use in the real world. I certainly wouldn’t be the first one to prove them wrong, but I won’t be the last.
Plus, having a computer with liquid damage kind of puts a damper on a lot of things, and while I’m mulling over the idea of getting it repaired or otherwise, I set out to see if I could indeed get by with just the iPad mini.
First, my MacBook Pro setup configuration:
- MacBook Pro 13″, late 2011 model
- 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor
- 750GB hard drive
- 8GB RAM
Apps I use on a daily basis, with small description if needed:
- Postbox – desktop email client
- Google Chrome/Mozilla Firefox
- Microsoft Office 2011 (Word/Excel/Powerpoint)
- Coda – web development
- Scrivener – powerful app allowing me to creatively research and write short stories
- Pixelmator – image editing when iPhoto isn’t enough
- Evernote – note taking
- Dropbox – file sharing
- 1Password – saving and generating passwords and login information
There are a few more than what I have listed here, but above is what I used daily. In fact, they’re constantly open in the background to make it easier for me to switch to the app without having to wait for them to launch (Microsoft Office, I’m looking at you).
Compare that to my iPad mini:
- iPad mini, 32GB, Black/Slate
- ZAGGkeys MINI 9 Keyboard Case
Apps that I bought and installed that are compared to the apps I used on the MacBook Pro:
- Mail app
- Pages, Keynote, Numbers
- Writing Kit
- Photoshop Touch
- Music app
- Poster – great WordPress app for iOS
I could install and use Diet Coda, but since I wasn’t planning on doing any web development, I decided against buying it. For the most part, I covered the bases with apps that are either the same or have a counterpart to the desktop version I was using.
Setup and Usage
The first thing I had to get used to was not using a mouse. With my MacBook Pro, I had a wireless mouse I used when I would do some photo editing. Most of the time, however, I would use the trackpad. Apple did an excellent job with OS X 10.8 and gestures, allowing me to cut the time needed with a mouse. Unfortunately, there are many times where I’ll reach for the mouse when I’m using the iPad mini, only realizing that I can only use the screen.
After a few days, I starting getting more comfortable with the setup and the need to use a mouse was no longer there.
The next step I had to go through was getting the apps setup and configured. For a lot of apps, such as Chrome, Evernote, and Dropbox, I simply entered my email address and password and waited a few seconds for my information to come across. For the other apps, it took a little longer since they were new to me and I went through the app settings to get them how I wanted them.
One thing to note here is that I use Dropbox for syncing, not iCloud. The main reason is that I did this before iCloud was introduced, and so I have a few years’ worth of data stored there. A lot of data, as far as I could tell anyway, wouldn’t transfer to iCloud anyway because the iOS version either doesn’t have a desktop counterpart, or vice-versa. So Dropbox was the obvious choice for me.
Another small annoyance I ran into is the lack of printing. I have a basic inkjet printer that isn’t compatible with AirPrint. I don’t print all that often, but I ran into a few instances in the last 30 days where I needed a printer. Luckily, Chrome for iOS added Google Cloud Print support, so I was able to configure the printer on an old PC laptop and print that way. It’s not the greatest, but it works.
After a month of using the iPad mini as part of my daily routine, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I really had to get by on just one device, the iPad mini is a suitable replacement. However, keep in mind that I use both for writing and a few extra things like photo editing. If you’re a power computer user that does a lot more, obviously replacing your routine with an iPad, or another tablet device, is not an option.
For me, I realize that I can get by using either one without any problems.