Living Without a Laptop

With a desktop at home, I’m trying to see whether I can make do with the iPad (first version) plus a $60 wireless keyboard instead investing in a new laptop. Even with the on-screen virtual keyboard, writing on the iPad was as easy, if not easier, than on a full-featured computer. The iPad is getting better at multitasking, but it’s still easier to focus on doing one thing at a time, and distractions such as Growl or Twitter aren’t in the picture plane. Plus I’m working in the cloud, using PlainText, which lets me use my Textexpander shortcuts, so I can resume anywhere.

Mail recognizes keyboard shortcuts for cut, paste, and undo, but it could easily use basic keyboard commands for replying to messages. And Safari could also support keyboard commands that send me to the status bar or search box. And neither application supports Textexpander, unfortunately. (MarkdownMail lets you write e-mail using Textexpander, but it’s not a mail client.) Although they probably could; the Settings have an option for shortcuts. So I’m writing this post in the Web browser without the benefit of my own personal shorthand.

Also, power is a problem. With Bluetooth enabled, the iPad battery drains much more quickly, even when you’re not using the keyboard. So you have to remember to disable Bluetooth before you put the machine back in your bag.

It wouldn’t take much for Apple to make the iPad plus keyboard a better laptop replacement. But then fewer people would need to buy laptops?

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