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Using a Tablet As Your Primary Computer 627

Posted by samzenpus
from the out-with-the-old dept.
harrymcc writes "Three months ago, I started using an iPad 2 (with a Zagg keyboard) as my primary computing device--the one I blog on, write articles for TIME magazine on, and use to prepare photos and other illustrations that go with my writing. I now use it about 80 percent of the time; my trusty MacBook Air has become a secondary machine."
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Using a Tablet As Your Primary Computer

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  • by bernywork (57298) <bstapleton.gmail@com> on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:51AM (#38264848) Journal

    Congratulations.

    • by xaxa (988988) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:11AM (#38265094)

      Conglomeration.

      FTFY.

      Since no one else reads the article, I'll have to explain: it has many incorrect/missing words. It's as if it was written on a phone keyboard, with word completion, or something. "unless I have specific reason to think I’ll never a full-blown computer" "most iPads cost only a few dollars" "Or at least I was at firs–at this point"

      It sounds like what the author appreciates is decent battery life and an efficient small-screen-friendly window manager.

      • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:20AM (#38265242)

        Conglomeration.

        FTFY.

        Since no one else reads the article, I'll have to explain: it has many incorrect/missing words. It's as if it was written on a phone keyboard, with word completion, or something. "unless I have specific reason to think I’ll never a full-blown computer" "most iPads cost only a few dollars" "Or at least I was at firs–at this point"

        It sounds like what the author appreciates is decent battery life and an efficient small-screen-friendly window manager.

        It really was kind of surprising for an author who claims to be writing for Time magazine.

        • Why do you find that surprising?

        • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:53AM (#38265670) Journal

          It really was kind of surprising for an author who claims to be writing for Time magazine.

          Nope. Just an example of why writers need good editors (no, not the Slashdot kind...)

          I've been using the Asus Transformer as my primary content generation tool for some time now. Of course the Asus has the benefit of a decent built-in keyboard, HDMI port, as well as full size USB ports (for mouse and external hard drive), but there's no reason you wouldn't be almost as productive with an iPad.

          I still have a full desktop running Debian as my home machine, but I've often found it just more convenient to hook the Transformer up to mouse, hdd and screen to finish whatever I've been working on. I'll be making sure my next printer is Android compatible, then that desktop might get a bit rusty...

        • by Joce640k (829181) on Monday December 05, 2011 @11:00AM (#38265764) Homepage

          Since no one else reads the article, I'll have to explain: it has many incorrect/missing words. It's as if it was written on a phone keyboard, with word completion, or something.

          You could also mention that he uses it in a docking thing with a keyboard so he's using it more like a laptop than a tablet.

      • by IANAAC (692242) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:30AM (#38265378)
        It's pretty clear he didn't get anywhere productive until he bought the ZaggFolio keyboard/case. He brings it up as a central point several times.

        Other than that, he states "This hasn’t been one of those experiments-for-the-sake-of-experimentation in which someone temporarily forsakes a PC for another device in order to write about the experience". Of course not. He had to justify his purchase (to himself, I suppose). Why else would he devote a blog post to "Hey look! I can write and take pictures with an iPad!"

        He could just as easily written about blogging/taking pictures and emailing them to himself on a phone - because he bought an external keyboard.

        • by postbigbang (761081) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:38AM (#38265470)

          This is someone that doesn't program, doesn't write long docs, is used to surfing a lot, and probably just does blog updates. A tablet is perfect.

          Others with differing job needs would toss that tablet like a TV from a balcony. Except for a few rare ones, tablets can't hold much data, don't have a variety of ports, must download everything (and no DVDs, etc), and most importantly: you can't do a user-changes-battery. Yes, there are exceptions.

          They have tiny screens, and by the time you add an external keyboard, it's back to the size of a netbook. As media consumption devices, they're spectacular. They're less expensive than a Macbook Air, but so is a Porsche 914.

          • by bennomatic (691188) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:47PM (#38268228) Homepage

            This is someone that doesn't program, doesn't write long docs...

            I'd suggest that a significant number of real jobs don't require programming or the write-up of long documents. iPads are being used in hospitals and the airline industry. I could imagine a situation where hotel cleaning staff could be managed via tablets which would allow their location and cleaning times to be tracked, as well as their availability for an emergency clean-up. Or as a checklist to be used in an auto shop. Or any place where large amounts of inventory need to be managed?

            Don't get me wrong: I like my laptop. But I do code and I do write long documents on a regular basis. But there are a LOT of people out there who could use a tablet device or tablet+keyboard at a much lower cost and get their jobs done just fine.

        • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:43AM (#38265534)

          I think the master point he made was that it's actually the OS he likes. Or rather the lack of an OS to deal with. No real responsibilities to manage. Just a pure application interface. He also liked the long battery life.

        • It's pretty clear he didn't get anywhere productive until he bought the ZaggFolio keyboard/case.

          Keyboards are pretty central to what writers do.

          Why else would he devote a blog post to "Hey look! I can write and take pictures with an iPad!"

          Because people with blogs like to write blog posts about stuff. A rational person would need no more justification than that.

        • by Deorus (811828)

          I don't think he needs to justify anything to anybody. My iPad 2 hasn't even paid the power that it has consumed since I've had it, let alone itself. I bought it because I have a thing for capacitive multitouch touchscreens, especially if they have a GPS too, and once the iPad 3 is out, this one will be sold at half the price, which is what I do to all my previous-generation Apple hardware as there's always someone around willing t buy my stuff when I upgrade. I have an iPhone 4S as well, but the iPad is

      • by teslafreak (684543) <teslafreak@hotmail.com> on Monday December 05, 2011 @11:36AM (#38266254) Homepage Journal

        "unless I have specific reason to think I’ll never a full-blown computer"

        Oh no, you don't think he accidentally a whole iPad do you?

  • ...Good for you? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dragonhunter21 (1815102) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:51AM (#38264856) Journal

    I'm sorry, this isn't a story. This is a blog entry, and a short one at that.

    • by broken_chaos (1188549) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:54AM (#38264878)

      This is a blog entry, and a short one at that.

      Obviously typing blog posts on an iPad doesn't work as well as the submitter wants to make himself believe.

      • Re:...Good for you? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:12AM (#38265110) Homepage

        This is a blog entry, and a short one at that.

        Obviously typing blog posts on an iPad doesn't work as well as the submitter wants to make himself believe.

        Maybe he should stick to Twitter?

        Seriously, I won an iPad over a year ago. The iPad sits on the nightstand by my bed - 95% of the time, I reach under the bed to retrieve my 13" laptop to do anything, including watching streaming media. The (8 and 10 year old) kids prefer the iPad to an eee Netbook, but only because it's swipey swipey fun to use and seems to be better at grabbing marginal WiFi connections than the Netbook is. I think if the kids had to choose between having a Netbook of their own, or 50/50 sharing the (twice as expensive) iPad, they'd probably go for having their own Netbook. Especially when they want to access Flash enabled websites.

        • by s73v3r (963317)

          I think if the kids had to choose between having a Netbook of their own, or 50/50 sharing the (twice as expensive) iPad, they'd probably go for having their own Netbook

          So you're saying that if kids have to decide between sharing something, and having their own of something, they'll choose to have their own? Wow, what a breakthrough in the world of parenting.

    • by hjf (703092) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:57AM (#38264926) Homepage

      He's the 99% I guess.

      I'm an amateur photographer. I upgraded from a Core 2 Duo laptop which was working GREAT (and I still use) to a Core i5... gasp! DESKTOP! Because I like having a 27" monitor and I use the 8GB of RAM and all 4 cores of my CPU to process photos. And of course, USB ports and SD card readers are nice too.

      So, thanks for your suggestions iPad fanboys. I'll stick with my desktop machine for the next few years.

      • by Cimexus (1355033) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:30AM (#38265374)

        Don't think iPads and the like are supposed to replace desktops. But they might replace laptops for some use cases. I have to admit, I pretty much just use my big grunty desktop (serious work, gaming) or my iPad (quick web browsing, email, watching Youtube etc.) now. The laptop is gathering dust. I used to take it when I went on trips but now I just throw the iPad in instead - it's lighter and has better battery life, and it does all I need it to when travelling (basically email, Skype, web) and a few things the laptop doesn't (GPS + maps).

        Having said that I would never use a tablet as my PRIMARY machine (the premise of this thread). Nor would most Slashdotters. A proper PC will always have its place for coding, gaming and heavy duty processing of media (video, audio and photos - as you will no doubt agree). But for the average Joe who just uses their computer to check a few websites and send an email or two, a tablet fits their needs nicely.

        • by Deorus (811828)

          I am beginning to find it hard to justify having a desktop at all. Right now I have a mid-2011 iMac for desktop which I am considering selling and replacing with a Thunderbolt Display at home, using a Macbook Pro as a transportable home computer (with the Thunderbolt Display serving as its dock), and the iPad as a netbook, because most of the use that I have for a laptop these days is to access remote servers, browse the web, and read E-mail, all things that can be done perfectly well using an iPad with a

      • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:38AM (#38265474) Homepage

        You clearly haven't read the article. The authory states his iPad2 has a neat photo editor. It can resize your pictures and even make them black & white. What else would somebody ever want to do with photographs?
        Clearly the iPad2 can replace your hugely overspecced computer. It may be a bit more expensive than your computer, but you can use it everywhere (provided no sunlight is reflecting in the glossy screen).

      • Re:...Good for you? (Score:4, Informative)

        by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday December 05, 2011 @11:45AM (#38266406)

        I don't know any photographers with only one camera, or only one lens. Why would one computing device be enough?

        A desktop PC with a large screen is great for photoshopping. But it's no use at all when you're out and about doing the photography itself.

        Here's the ways another photographer uses an iPad in his workflow.
        http://terrywhite.com/techblog/archives/7606 [terrywhite.com]

      • by mjwx (966435)

        He's the 99% I guess.

        I'm an amateur photographer. I upgraded from a Core 2 Duo laptop which was working GREAT (and I still use) to a Core i5... gasp! DESKTOP! Because I like having a 27" monitor and I use the 8GB of RAM and all 4 cores of my CPU to process photos. And of course, USB ports and SD card readers are nice too.

        So, thanks for your suggestions iPad fanboys. I'll stick with my desktop machine for the next few years.

        Sorry to break this to you, but he's the 1%. :)

        I still have a desktop for gaming. The receptionists and bookkeepers get desktops because they are cheaper and in the case of accounting, does not permit them to easily take data out of the building like a laptop does. The CAD/GIS team use high end desktops because you simply cant get good graphics performance out of laptop, especially onto 2 x 30" monitors, even with SSD's (the old GIS desktops used 10K RPM Raptors). Developers constantly complain their lap

    • by jrumney (197329) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:03AM (#38264990) Homepage
      It almost qualifies as a twitter entry. Meanwhile some of us have real work to do which we need our PC's for. We aren't all hipster freelance writers that have nothing to do with our day that can't be done on an iPad while sitting in Starbucks taking up space that should be reserved for paying customers.
      • Meanwhile some of us have real work to do which we need our PC's for.

        But as tablets become able to do "real work", fewer people will demand PCs. Some previous articles posted to Slashdot predict the "death of the PC", and pretty much only people who make apps for a living will have PCs. Where's the economy of scale in a PC industry dedicated to supporting only tablet app developers?

      • by Canazza (1428553)

        Pretty much this.
        If you're a web developer, like me (or any kind of developer for that matter), you kinda need to be able to do things that just aren't feasible on a tablet.
        Like run a test server, install and test on multiple browsers, run virtual machines to test on other OSes (like the mobile OSes for example. God bless Androidx86) and, you know, running at more than 1024x768 isn't such a bad thing either.

        You know, all the little things we take for granted on a desktop disappears when you use a tablet.

    • by quixote9 (999874) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:07AM (#38265042) Homepage
      Seriously. The OP may want to climb into comments and explain his point. What takes more time to do? What takes less (if anything)? How would it be if you didn't have the extra keyboard? That seems to me to make it a de facto laptop, so you're not really using a "tablet as your primary computer." Or do you not use the keyboard much? Is it more or less convenient to have a separate keyboard? Etc., etc., etc.
    • This is a blog entry, and a short one at that.

      With 2217 words? Ok for me ...

    • From TFA

      If this startles you, I understand

      I nearly fell out of my chair.

    • by AdamHaun (43173) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:45AM (#38265566) Journal

      It's also a misleading summary. The guy isn't truly using a tablet as his primary computer, because the first thing he does is get a Bluetooth keyboard. What he likes is super-long battery life, built-in mobile broadband, and a clean user interface. Everything tablet-specific -- the touchscreen, the apps, the screen size -- he describes as worse than a laptop.

  • by AdrianKemp (1988748) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:52AM (#38264864)

    My primary mobile development machine is now my iPad2. Using svn hooks and an apple bluetooth keyboard I've managed to quite effectively work remotely.

    SSH is required from time to time, but frankly it's quite seldom once I got all the svn hooks set up correctly

    • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:55AM (#38264888)

      I use the SVN client built into iOS and iSSH for my SSH sessions. Works great for me.

    • by dingen (958134)
      And what are the benefits of using a simple terminal instead of something more powerful? I mean seriously, didn't we go through exactly the same process back in the 70s?
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        I missed the tablet craze when I was working out of coffee shops. Most of my time was spent in a text editor or in MATLAB.

        There were certainly days where I would have killed for more battery life, but I'm skeptical that I could have worked out a workflow when I was doing MATLAB work. If I weren't fighting with 100 other people for the same WiFi signal, I could have remoted in to a real machine - but that was not always possible even from a reasonable laptop.

        But for the projects I was doing where it was just

    • by xaxa (988988)

      Is there no terminal and SSH client for the iPad2? That would be a pretty basic omission.

      (That's the first thing I installed on my Android phone. Very occasionally I used a Java SSH client on my old non-smart phone.)

      • Sorry I was unclear, SSH on the ipad is required from time to time. There are many SSH clients available for the ipad, but few good ones

  • Fine then (Score:5, Insightful)

    by masternerdguy (2468142) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:54AM (#38264874)
    Personal Computers aren't a jack of all trades and a master of none. They are a master of freedom and convertibility, the ability to do whatever you want. Enjoy your tablet, I'm not sure I could.
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      A tablet IS a PC - it just has a different pointing device, and is optimized for battery life rather than raw power. Actually, I can't even say that because netbooks make the same tradeoff, but include a different pointing device and attached keyboard.

  • by kiwix (1810960) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:03AM (#38264982)

    So it's like an expensive netbook, but you can only run programs approved by Apple?

    What's the point?

    • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:35AM (#38265434)

      Eh, I was the same way. I shook my head and thought it was silly... that I'd rather get a cheap 12" or 14" laptop.

      Then one day, on a lark, I got some cash and was in the Apple store. I'd been using an iPad at work a lot and figured "what the heck, why not."

      It's nice... not "laptop" nice but it's good. I just use it when chilling on the couch or away from my desk. No hinge/parts means it can take more of a beating. I can do my quick browsing/emailing/etc on a larger screen than my mobile phone (less strain on the eyes). Really, for the most part it's just small stuff like that.

      Biggest advantage is the battery lasts for flippin' ever. This was a life saver when I was without power for a week due to the recent snow storm. Charge it at work, download some shows, and I can watch TV all evening and only lose like 10%-15% battery life. It's also nice on trips, less of a hassle to take one out and start reading / watching / playing something in the confined seats of a plain/train/etc.

      It's nice for some things but I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. If you want a tablet, the Nook and such are probably easier to swallow with their cheaper price.

    • by smash (1351)
      No viruses, no spyware, 10 hr battery with minimal weight. "Only software approved by apple" is a double-edged sword.
  • obviously (Score:4, Funny)

    by locopuyo (1433631) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:07AM (#38265038) Homepage
    No surprise considering his "primary computer" was a macbook to begin with. No real computing was likely done.
  • by PhillC (84728) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:08AM (#38265056) Homepage Journal

    I've tried pretty much the same thing [stream0.org] using an Asus Transformer TF101. It has been less than a success.

    Basically the tablet is great for email, which fortunately I write a lot of, but rubbish for office productivity. Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations are all difficult to create and edit with the installed Polaris Office. The original article above mentions Hootsuite. I use Hootsuite for managing my social networks. On an Android tablet, the experience is less than stellar. The Hootsuite app is clearly built for a mobile phone. In a web browser though, Hootsuite is brilliant. Sadly, web browsers on an Android tablet are largely crap at dealing with Javascript. And I've tried pretty much all of them. I need at least 4 (standard Google Android browser, Opera, Dolphin HD and Firefox Beta) to ensure that I will be able to load and interact with all websites I come across. Google Docs also fails in a web browser, and the app is once again mobile phone focussed.

    The battery life of the Transformer is brilliant, especially with the dockable keyboard, which makes writing anything of length bearable.

    A while ago I installed Ubuntu 11.10 [stream0.org] as a dual boot operating system. I now use this OS much, much more on the Transformer. It's not perfect and a few things don't work, such as the mini-HDMI out, but when it comes to browsing and office productivity, I find this much more useful.

  • He makes good points about battery life and built in AT&T connectivity but then come these questionable statements ...

    When you use a Windows PC -and, to a somewhat lesser extent, a Mac -- you get dragged down by the responsibilities and obligations of using a computer.

    With the iPad, all that goes away. You can devote nearly every second of your time to the task at hand, rather than babysitting a balky computer.

    Then ...

    Many tasks are at least a bit slower or more unwieldy than with a computer, and some t

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:22AM (#38265264) Homepage Journal

    When youd add a physical keyboard to it, it's just not a tablet any more, functionally. It's either a two-piece notepad, or if the keyboard is attached, even with just a cover, it's a notepad period.

    The form factor changes. I expect tablets to be just one piece. A salient feature of a tablet is the LACK of a keyboard.

    But if he was saying that adapting his tablet for everyday uses onle required adding a keyboard, well, doh. This is news for nerds? Not for a few years.

    By TFA measure, my X41t is a tablet. Oh, sure, it needs a stylus and comes with a keyboard, and most of the logic is in the 'keyboard part', but it's touch sensitive (just the touch of the stylus, I know), has an onscreen keyboard etc. and folds over so it's just screen. and the stylus.

    In today's world, it isn't what most people think they mean by 'tablet'. Adding a keyboard muddies this even more.

  • by poity (465672) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:28AM (#38265342)

    And it wasn't pretty [arstechnica.com] Somebody points out that a tablet can only be a good primary computer if one's primary work is non-computer intensive, like an editor with a light workload; use-iPad-for-everything people get defensive about the technical rigor of their work, and computational significance of their needs; comments section gets shut down due to hurt feelings.

  • by Stone316 (629009) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:31AM (#38265386) Journal

    Just some background, I am an Oracle DBA who is oncall every second week. I used to carry around my laptop, power cable and iphone while I was on call. I managed to get my hands on an iPad and used it for light reading, email, etc. I tried to use it while on call but it was too painful. SSH on the thing is nice if your in a bind, but you don't want to be using it for an extended period of time. Just think about trying to use vi, yikes.

    Anyways, I picked up a Zaggmate keyboard for it. I now carry it primarily while I am on call, much easier to tote around than my 17" laptop. Has a better battery life and 3g built in. I don't have to worry about draining my phone at the same time as my laptop.

    However, if I am traveling I take both the laptop and ipad. While the ipad is good for short periods of work, it is still painful for long periods. And its also not suited for alot of tasks, which you don't realize until you actually try to do them.

    So I would agree to a point that 80% of work can be done on an iPad but its that other 20% that kills you. I could also walk to work but that would take an extra 2 hours each way than using my car.

    The macbook air is light, small, easy to carry around. I am not sure why you would use an iPad over it. I've heard quite a few people say the opposite as the guy in the article. Once they bought air's they barely used their ipads. Once you factor in the cost of the keyboard, ipad, your almost at an air anyways.

  • by cardpuncher (713057) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:33AM (#38265410)

    A man writing a blog writes a blog entry about how he writes his blog and gets his blog entry posted on other blogs.

    Is this the publishing equivalent of the CDO?

  • by plurgid (943247) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:14PM (#38266826)

    My 13 year old daughter got an iDevice for her birthday (an iPod Touch -- seems like an iPhone without the sim card to me).
    She's had a great time buying idiotic wallpaper "apps" (branded / licensed from her favorite TV shows), and silly games like Angry Birds, etc.
    Also getting Email and wasting time on facebook (and of course buying a playing music).

    This prompted the Dad speech: "when I was your age, we had C-64's. They plugged into the TV and you could write your OWN games".

    Her eyes lit up. "I want to do that" she said. ... she had a couple of amusing ideas for angry birds knock offs.
    Of course, starting from 0 might take a while to get there.

    It started me thinking. The C-64 could suck you into programming real easy. Because with a few one liners you could change the screen color, make some noises, etc etc. It peeled back the curtain a little, and let you see how the thing you just bought worked, and how you could make it do neat things, and it didn't take a lot of effort to get there.

    How in the hell could I even start my daughter down this path today?

    I guess we'd have to download the Apple developer tools, XCode, get some sort of iDevice development license, and ... damn I don't know I guess some sort of iPhone simulator or something to run on the computer to act like it was an actual iDevice (since there's no way in hell you're getting your code onto one outside of the app store).

    If she managed to entertain some enthusiasm through that ridiculous process, then her eyes would glass over as I began to explain how compiling works, header files, etc, etc, etc.

    The greatest thing about computers is that they are creativity machines. You can use them to make just about anything. But these iDevice walled gardens are bullshit mini-televisions or game consoles. You can't DO anything other than consume, or produce approved content: pictures, emails, blog posts, maybe audio.

    I'm disappointed by that. They could be so much more, for a new generation.

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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