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To take or not take the laptop, that is the question?

Wherever I go, whenever that is and for whatever reason I take my all of my devices with me. It didn’t matter if it was a weekend away or a vacation overseas …. I would bring them all (e.g. iPad, iPhone and MacBookPro). My wife has questioned this rationale for some time with my typical response: “What if x happens?” I questioned myself on this recent trip and cut the umbilical cord by leaving my laptop at home.

Hence begun a experiment: 10 days in Italy with only an iPhone and iPad (no MacBookPro). My iPad has the standard Apple Keyboard cover so I can easily type and the Apple Pencil so that I can write. Given the majority of applications now available on iPad, I can pretty much do many of the things I would do on the Mac; perhaps with a few more steps and a minimised screen size.

I was put to the test within the first few hours of my vacation when a colleague called me for some assistance with a client he was working on. He didn’t realise I was on vacation however I was able to spin up WebEx on the iPad to see what he wanted to go through via a conference. He needed some example documents which I downloaded from a work cloud server, updated and attached via email. No problem so far, however, since then work hasn’t been as busy given I have had to just keep an eye on the inbox.

The results are in, although I have two more days in Italy before heading home. In summary, leaving the Mac at home has forced me to better leverage the capabilities of the iPad. For example, for those that don’t know you can use a multi-tasking feature where you can see two applications at the same time (see the below screen shot). I’m doing this right now while writing this blog post. I have OneNote open on one side writing while viewing my mind map structure on the right hand screen with MindNode.

Screenshot on my iPad showing both OneNote and MindNode on the same screen using the iPad multi-tasking capability.

In terms of capabilities that are lacking: Apple Mail! I have finally dumped this standard iPad application and moved to AirMail which is far superior. It took me a while to set things up because it includes a vast rich feature set that will return me more time in the long term than I initially invested. The other applications I have heavily relied on are Kindle, Apple Music, Fantastical (Calendar Mgt.), Omnifocus (Task Mgt.), OneNote and 1Password (Password Mgt., especially the secure browser function). The screen size is obviously smaller yet this hasn’t impacted me too much. The weight and the size of the iPad is a definite advantage. Plus it is easy to use!

You may challenge me in that I haven’t performed any serious work. While that is true I believe I could get away with the applications available today on the iPad; such as the Microsoft Office Suite, Google Docs, VPN etc. along with the above mentioned apps. This solution will be suffice for any trip as long as I have the appropriate charging cables, dongles and power cables. With Cloud access I’m able to access all of my data and applications as long as I have a decent Internet connection. The exception would be any serious design / development work when a laptop is needed.

The experiment has been a good one and I’m happy I was ‘pushed’ into it by my wife. I can see some future personal (and business) trips being laptop free to further this experiment.

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