Redux – Mobile Working Thoughts

Sunday, after a long weekend down in Oregon, I was having lunch with friends and one asked whether I had gotten the new MacBook Air yet. When I told him that I did get it, he asked why I needed an iPad still. A question that I was short on answers.

The logic he was using is sound, an iPad and MacBook Air are both very mobile machines and since the MacBook Air is more powerful and almost as mobile why would I need both an iPad and MacBook Air. At least this is what I assume to be the logic that he was using.

The answer though is not straightforward, I don’t need both, yet at the same time I do need both. It is massively confusing, not just for people who look at my setup, but for me as well.

When deciding what to pack for my trip down to Oregon I was torn whether I should leave the Air at home or the iPad, or just bring them both. I am very glad I brought them both and here is why.

It turns out that I stay active blogging and am more apt at jotting down quick thoughts when I have a computer with a keyboard with me. That isn’t to say I did a whole lot that readers saw, but behind the scenes I was able to do a lot of work on the Air. That work probably would have been put on hold until I got back to a computer as somethings are just not that easy to do on the iPad (linked posts for example are terribly annoying on the iPad).

Additionally it was great having both devices as my Wife and I were switching between them, she was using Chrome to view analytics for her company in Google while I would switch to the iPad to keep reading. It was incredibly nice that we both could do everything that we needed and wanted to do without having to inconvenience the other. The iPad serves as a great computer for casual reading and browsing for just about anyone.

The iPad is great for wasting small portions of time, the Air not so much. Yes, it is easy enough to pull out the Air and get working on it, but it is far easier to just pull out the iPad. It seems to me that the iPad is made for taking care of the minutia of the day when you only have a short amount of time. By that I mean things like checking RSS feeds, Twitter, Email and OmniFocus are far easier and faster to do with the iPad than they are on the Air in short bursts.

That said everything that I can do on the iPad, I can do faster on the Air, once I get it set up. If I am standing and waiting or lounging on a couch, the iPad is far more convenient to use. If I have a table or more time the Air is a way better option. You never know what situation you may be in, and for only 1.5lbs more I could find a tool to fit most any situation.

In the future I look forward to traveling with both the Air and the iPad in my bag – they both fill very specific needs and they suit those needs well.

The Air:

  • Writing
  • Coding
  • Video Chat
  • When you need Flash
  • Photo Editing
  • Photo Uploading
  • Server management
  • Serious Email
  • Task management

The iPad:

  • Reading
  • Staying updated
  • Light email
  • Twitter
  • Task Overviews
  • Entertainment (e.g. Angry Birds)

The overlap is not as much as one would assume.

Originally posted for members on: November 8, 2010
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