Monday, 16 December 2013

iPad functionality Vs a laptop

Tablet to replace a laptop.

This post is just an update to the original iPad post made last month. I have been using the iPad for a few weeks now and to get a better idea as to whether I can be 'laptop-less', I have put the laptop away for several days at a time and relied only upon the tablet and this is where I am up to;

Press continue for the rest of this post.

Internet browsing and e-mailing, the tablet is fine.

Blogging, I have settled on the `Blogsy' app, which does everything I need for the Blogger program except dealing with comments and stats, but I can do both of these things via the web browser anyway. I moved on from BlogTouch because I had problems editing the middle section of documents, but I note from their recent update that this looks like it has been addressed.

To reduce my images for blogs, I use the App 'Image Size', which allows me to take the image below 800 pixels on the long side. This gives me free uploading of images.

Transferring Photos to the iPad. I have the SD card reader attachment and that is perfect for transferring photographs that have just been taken on the camera. However, it does not allow me to save photos from my laptop (i.e. old photographs) onto an SD card and then transfer them, the iPad simply doesn't recognise them. So the only way to get my old photographs from the laptop onto the iPad is to have iTunes on the laptop and then transfer them directly via USB. But those photographs do then not upload to my iCloud. This presents the problem that if I go to a single device (the iPad) and it died or was stolen, then I would lose those pictures. To get around that, I have opened a Dropbox account and uploaded my pictures to there.

I have an Android mobile phone with a decent camera and flash, pictures taken on that can be e-mailed across to the iPad and that seems to work okay.

Music - All my music ripped from my CD's will only transfer to the iPad via iTunes on the laptop and a USB cable, in the same way as the photographs are transferred and like the photographs, they will not upload to my iCloud as a back-up. Apple offer a service which costs £22 a year and it allows all your music collection, including ripped music to be accessible via iCloud, using Apple's vast access to music files (i.e. you are not actually listening to your ripped music file, but rather the same title from their data base of music). The problem with this is that if you stop paying the subscription that music source just dies. The solution will be to use something like dropbox or Google Drive to store that music.

Word processing - the 'Pages' app that comes with the iPad Air is very good and together with a blue-toothed keyboard is fine. My problem is that I cannot create a PDF and just store it the way you would on a PC. This means I can't go to a website like BoardGameGeek and upload the PDF because the site only recognises my camera roll and not other areas of the iPad. From a creativity perspective, this is a problem for me. You can create a PDF and just e-mail to to a PC and it will arrive as an attachment and be used in the traditional way, but the whole point of my exercise is to be a 'tablet' only user.

I have just bought an air print compatible printer. I chose a Brother J152W and all I had to do was network the printer to my home router and the iPad instantly worked with it. I feel it is important to have the scanner / copier built in, rather than just a printer, as I do quite a bit with game documents and play aid cards etc.

E- reader. I have the Kindle app, which gives me full access to my Kindle library and the display is good. But the Kindle app will not allow me to buy books directly, it will however send me a sample. It is easy however just to go via my Safari web browser to the Amazon site, where I can buy direct without any problem.

Amazon site - I can buy direct via the web browser in the normal way. I bought a hard backed book the other day and it was no different than buying on a laptop.

E-bay - I can buy direct via the web browser in the normal way and access the various areas of my account.

Family accounts - I have set up a spreadsheet within the iPad and pass-worded it. It is less hassle to access this on the iPad than it was on the laptop.

Gas Bills etc - I can manage my internet account directly via the web browser with the gas peoples website.

Art - I have bought the Procreate app, which is a great artists tool. I like painting and drawing on the iPad, it is a fun alternative to getting the real paints out. On the laptop, I used to make my own counters and maps up for self published (DTP) wargames. The laptop is good for that kind of heavy lifting, but as I am not doing that at present, the Procreate app meets my present artistic needs.

Video. I used to do 10 minute reviews of games on the laptop and upload to YouTube on the laptop with Windows own Movie Maker software, a Core 3 processor and 8GB of RAM. Now, I shoot the movie on the camera as normal. Import it into the iPad via the SD card and SD card adapter. Then use iMovie to edit, which I find easier to use that Microsoft's Movie Maker. I then upload from the pad to YouTube. I have also added some stills that iMovie pans across, while adding a voice over, using the iPad internal microphone. That takes a bit of practice so that the voice sounds the same level and tone as the camera picked up for the movie bit. It all works fine and replaces the laptop seamlessly.

When word processing, I have my iPad on one of those fold out back stands and then put this on a box that is about 12 inches high, so that the screen is substantially raised. This gives a much better sitting position for the back and the neck when doing longer documents. The good thing is that afterwards I can pack that all away, while the laptop gizmo tends to stay on the desk and so any space saving that the laptop should have given me was lost.

So overall, the tablet is mostly working out for me, but I think it is an individual thing. It just so happens that I have stopped needing some of the heavy graphic tasking that I was doing and putting game components together.

The whole point of me moving away from the laptop is that I can concentrate on having a single device (accepting that my phone remains separate). At this particular point in time, I think I will be just using the iPad increasingly in favour of the laptop, but that there will still be some times that the laptop will be better for me (such as uploading PDF's).

The crunch time will come when the laptop dies and I have to make a buying decision. I am guessing by that time, tablet functionality will be even better and I will probably not be too bothered about the things it can't do.

EDIT - Just added the free Phontograph app. It adds text to photographs - it is working well.



  1. Thanks, I suppose I should really be talking about what wargames will be going onto the pad (that will come), but the subject cross-over is related to space saving and I think there are probably plenty of people running through similar thoughts, especially as a second device is an expensive thing, so if it can do two jobs, then all the better. Plus, if I can get the laptop and it's contraption stand off my desk, I will have some permanent game space.