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iPad vs laptop for work

big lbig l Registered User regular
edited April 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
My work wants to buy me a laptop or an iPad to use for work. I have a laptop already and so I know how they work and everything and know how to choose a good one if we go the laptop direction. I have never used an iPad, so I'm a little apprehensive about going that direction, but the boss is really into the idea of using the Facetime app instead of talking on the phone, and so they're kind of pushing the iPad option. I'd be fine with that or just Skype on a laptop but the boss is elderly and teaching a new app is always an adventure so it'd be good to stick with Facetime, what they know.

Does anyone have any opinion on the iPad's viability as a work platform? I'd be using it for internet, word processing, taking and editing pictures, fairly basic stuff, but I'm a little concerned about whether it can really be relied upon day in and day out as a work platform. I'd probably end up having to have my personal laptop with me pretty often to use along with it so the iPad needn't be completely prepared to stand alone. My other concern is that I'll be working for the next several months in a rural area, and 4G will be non-existent and wi-fi rarer than I'd like. Will the iPad still be useful in such situations?

Anyways, I'd like to hear anyone's thoughts on whether the iPad would be a reliable replacement for a laptop in work situations. Thanks!

big l on

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    StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    I wouldn't risk it without spending some time with an iPad and testing it before committing. It's not only about the device's capabilities, but also about your experience with it.
    Please note that, for instance, you can't have two different windows open on an iPad, like, say, email and word processor. For me that's a total deal breaker, no matter how willing to put up with it I am.

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    admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    If you're processing words and emailing you'll definitely want a wireless keyboard for the iPad. An iPad without internet isn't any more crippled than a laptop without internet, so I wouldn't take that into account.

    The main things you'd be lacking with the iPad are major multitasking (note that you can switch back and forth between apps quickly and they do save state) and heavy processing power. In exchange you're getting a great form factor and a device that's really a pleasure to use for the functions it excels at.

    admanb on
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    syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    It really depends on what you plan to do with it.

    The iPad is a really good content consumption device, and the content creation side is getting better and better each day.

    I manage my entire business off of my trusty iPad 1, and do the majority of my forming off of it, even without a physical keyboard. In fact, I haven't had a physical keyboard with my iPad for the past five months and don't miss it so much.

    If I had to choose between keeping my 11" air and my iPad, it would actually be a hard choice. The air is a more flexible machine capable of doing a lot more... But the iPad is easy to use and can be used anywhere rather effectively. This post is coming from my bed, where I am doing some reading of news in my sector while browsing and posting here.

    http://www.macworld.co.uk/blogs/?entryid=3348320&blogid=8

    Andy Ihnatko says it better than I can.

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    StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Can you keep offline email messages on the ipad? I can't even see my mailbox if i'm offline on my iphone. Didn't check this on my wife's ipad.

    Oh, I had a very fucking hard time getting 3 simple word documents on her ipad, in a way that she could read them offline. If you need to use pendrives or other offline methods to move files, the ipad sucks balls. Even a macbook air can just have the files copied over.

    Of course, lots of people have a great time working with ipads, but it's an extremely "case-by-case" deal. Mostly any laptop or netbook is able to do almost any basic office task (even if kinda slow), but the ipad is far from that, as of now.

    My point is, don't commit without trying to perform all your job tasks on an iPad first.

    EDIT:Oh, and my mom is a very young 65 years old, never had any computer experience, and even she is perfectly able to use skype, both on a laptop and on an iPad.

    Stormwatcher on
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    admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Can you keep offline email messages on the ipad? I can't even see my mailbox if i'm offline on my iphone. Didn't check this on my wife's ipad.

    Yes. Though it shouldn't have anything to do with iPad vs. iPhone. You should be able to configure any email account to download the messages or to not.

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    big lbig l Registered User regular
    One concern I have is that my desktop and laptop computers are both PCs - I could see this being a massive hassle to coordinate since I've been led to believe Apple products are designed to be insular and work with each other and not outside products. On the other hand, though, there is a Dropbox for iPad app, and I keep nearly all my files on Dropbox, so this might not be too bad as long as a data connection can be established, depending on how well the app works. Email and calender are through Google which I sure the iPad can cooperate with, with the proper apps.

    I'm hoping to get a chance to try out an iPad before I make the decision but right now I'm leaning towards the iPad. I already have my personal laptop which is getting a little old, but I already use it for work and can keep on using it just fine if the iPad doesn't do what I need. Another laptop would just duplicate something I already have.

    It sounds like the 16GB one is a little on the small side, space-wise, so I would expect to go for the 32GB. I don't know whether to get a 4G model or not - 4G service won't be available where I'll be at but 3G would be and it might be nice to have a back-up in case of no wi-fi. The website makes it sound like it is very easy to cancel the data plan if you don't need it, which I'm sure is poppycock but whatever.

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    admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Dropbox works great on the iPad. GoodReader can transfer files via wi-fi, for those times when you have no data connection.

    I use GMail and Google Calendar exclusively, and they work easily with the iPad apps for Mail and iCal.

    Canceling your data plan is (or was when I did it about a year ago) as easy as opening Settings on the iPad and hitting a few buttons.

    admanb on
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    syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    big l wrote: »
    One concern I have is that my desktop and laptop computers are both PCs - I could see this being a massive hassle to coordinate since I've been led to believe Apple products are designed to be insular and work with each other and not outside products. On the other hand, though, there is a Dropbox for iPad app, and I keep nearly all my files on Dropbox, so this might not be too bad as long as a data connection can be established, depending on how well the app works. Email and calender are through Google which I sure the iPad can cooperate with, with the proper apps.

    I'm hoping to get a chance to try out an iPad before I make the decision but right now I'm leaning towards the iPad. I already have my personal laptop which is getting a little old, but I already use it for work and can keep on using it just fine if the iPad doesn't do what I need. Another laptop would just duplicate something I already have.

    It sounds like the 16GB one is a little on the small side, space-wise, so I would expect to go for the 32GB. I don't know whether to get a 4G model or not - 4G service won't be available where I'll be at but 3G would be and it might be nice to have a back-up in case of no wi-fi. The website makes it sound like it is very easy to cancel the data plan if you don't need it, which I'm sure is poppycock but whatever.

    always buy an iPad with a cell antenna in it if you can afford it. The data plans are month to month, and are activated / cancelled right in the system settings for the device. Couldn't be more painless.

    Dropbox will not store ALL of your dropbox content offline - only items you flag on the iPad app. Otherwise, the app gives you a browsable directory structure of everything in your dropbox, and you download what you want, when you want it. If you want to keep it around forever, just mark it as a favorite and it will be retained in dropbox.

    Once downloaded, you can open the file in any app that is registered to work with the file type. Between GoodReader, one of the many video players out there, and the iWork/iLife suite, you should be good to do pretty much any kind of basic work.

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    big lbig l Registered User regular
    That all sounds very reassuring. And the iWork suite of apps sounds like it would cooperate with Dropbox and Office file formats well. I think I will likely go for the iPad.

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    ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    i don't know what you do as a job, but i'm a mac technician:

    at work i have a pimped mac pro tower for heavy lifting and video editing
    at home i have a 17" macbook pro which is mostly used to play command&conquer 3
    everywhere else i have my iPad. i never feel hamstrung by having it rather than a proper computer - i can do email, calendars, write docs and presentations, Skype, remote desktop, ssh, take notes - i think about 95% of my job can be done very happily on an iPad now. i wouldn't trade my work setup for anything. it doesn't weigh anything, the battery life is amazing and i can chuck it in a bag without worrying. it's incredible.

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    spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    I've already switched over from laptop to iPad 2 for work. With:

    - Dropbox (file portability)
    - Goodreader (read doc attachments from your email without saving them anywhere)
    - iTap RDP (log into windows machines via remote desktop)
    - Evernote (portable cross-platform notes)
    - Keynote (powerpoint, basically)
    - zaTelnet (telnet / ssh)
    - google app (gmail, docs, calendar, etc)
    - the HDMI adapter (connect to external monitors, including the conference room giant flatscreen)

    I'm only missing one essential function that would cause me to ever need a PC of any sort while working - an iPad to serial port adapter. Once I find one of those, I'll be able to configure cisco switches from my iPad and I'll never need to carry anything else with me. Basically it's amazing and has changed how I work completely. I can't imagine wanting a laptop.... if you really hate the keyboard, get the kensington bluetooth one that doubles as a protective case. Or for future mode, get a light projection bluetooth keyboard and pretend to be in star trek as you type on a desktop, literally.

    spool32 on
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    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    The thing I dislike about using an iPad for work exclusively is that you do need a fair amount of extra gear to really make it work, AND you need a very agreeable IT department.

    We have iPads that we use for conferences and trips, and they're great when you need to access your email, some documents, and other work things but don't want to carry around the extra weight of a laptop. However, I'll list the things that make it impossible for it to be an all-the-time computer for me at work:

    - Email archive/management. My mailbox has a limited size and I must archive or delete, and I have no archive on the iPad.
    - Document editing. I am limited to iWork and some 3rd party apps. I can open and edit most files but sending those files around has proven annoying. I also can't seem to attach multiple files to an email.
    - Outside file access. I don't have a USB adapter to transfer files
    - New files and filetypes. If I receive a .zip, .mobi, whatever from a client or internal person and don't have a native iPad app, I can't do anything about it.

    For me, adding adapters, keyboards, mounts, and cases to make an iPad into a laptop just adds to the bulk I'd carry around with a laptop package anyway, so it wouldn't work as an only computer. Not to mention that I'd have to deal with IT to ensure everything syncs up correctly (which depends on how accepting/advanced your IT dept. is), and, most importantly for my wallet, having a way to expense all the apps and adapters I would end up buying to deal with the shortcomings of an iPad.

    You can do it, but it's not as easy as just turning it on and synching your email. It sounds like the main reason you're getting the iPad is for a single use -- Facetime -- and I suggest you be prepared to tell the company about how they'll have to support everything else for the iPad, as well.

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    big lbig l Registered User regular
    EggyToast wrote: »
    The thing I dislike about using an iPad for work exclusively is that you do need a fair amount of extra gear to really make it work, AND you need a very agreeable IT department.

    We have iPads that we use for conferences and trips, and they're great when you need to access your email, some documents, and other work things but don't want to carry around the extra weight of a laptop. However, I'll list the things that make it impossible for it to be an all-the-time computer for me at work:

    - Email archive/management. My mailbox has a limited size and I must archive or delete, and I have no archive on the iPad.
    - Document editing. I am limited to iWork and some 3rd party apps. I can open and edit most files but sending those files around has proven annoying. I also can't seem to attach multiple files to an email.
    - Outside file access. I don't have a USB adapter to transfer files
    - New files and filetypes. If I receive a .zip, .mobi, whatever from a client or internal person and don't have a native iPad app, I can't do anything about it.

    For me, adding adapters, keyboards, mounts, and cases to make an iPad into a laptop just adds to the bulk I'd carry around with a laptop package anyway, so it wouldn't work as an only computer. Not to mention that I'd have to deal with IT to ensure everything syncs up correctly (which depends on how accepting/advanced your IT dept. is), and, most importantly for my wallet, having a way to expense all the apps and adapters I would end up buying to deal with the shortcomings of an iPad.

    You can do it, but it's not as easy as just turning it on and synching your email. It sounds like the main reason you're getting the iPad is for a single use -- Facetime -- and I suggest you be prepared to tell the company about how they'll have to support everything else for the iPad, as well.

    Well, the organization is basically four people and some consultants we contract with, so I am the IT department when we need one. I expect I'll be able to expense anything I need, especially if I get it all up front at the same time. You do have a good point that to use the iPad properly requires just as much bulk of accessories as a laptop would. I also am a little bit concerned about the zip files thing and I'd be happier with a USB port for a flash drive but it is what is, I suppose. I think what it comes down, though, is that they want to buy me either a laptop or an iPad. I already have a laptop that I use for both work and personal stuff, so buying another laptop would just duplicate functionality I already have, and I'm prepared to continue to use that laptop as necessary to supplement the iPad for the gaps in its functionality, whereas the iPad does add some new features that wouldn't have access to with just another laptop.

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    syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    big l wrote: »
    EggyToast wrote: »
    The thing I dislike about using an iPad for work exclusively is that you do need a fair amount of extra gear to really make it work, AND you need a very agreeable IT department.

    We have iPads that we use for conferences and trips, and they're great when you need to access your email, some documents, and other work things but don't want to carry around the extra weight of a laptop. However, I'll list the things that make it impossible for it to be an all-the-time computer for me at work:

    - Email archive/management. My mailbox has a limited size and I must archive or delete, and I have no archive on the iPad.
    - Document editing. I am limited to iWork and some 3rd party apps. I can open and edit most files but sending those files around has proven annoying. I also can't seem to attach multiple files to an email.
    - Outside file access. I don't have a USB adapter to transfer files
    - New files and filetypes. If I receive a .zip, .mobi, whatever from a client or internal person and don't have a native iPad app, I can't do anything about it.

    For me, adding adapters, keyboards, mounts, and cases to make an iPad into a laptop just adds to the bulk I'd carry around with a laptop package anyway, so it wouldn't work as an only computer. Not to mention that I'd have to deal with IT to ensure everything syncs up correctly (which depends on how accepting/advanced your IT dept. is), and, most importantly for my wallet, having a way to expense all the apps and adapters I would end up buying to deal with the shortcomings of an iPad.

    You can do it, but it's not as easy as just turning it on and synching your email. It sounds like the main reason you're getting the iPad is for a single use -- Facetime -- and I suggest you be prepared to tell the company about how they'll have to support everything else for the iPad, as well.

    Well, the organization is basically four people and some consultants we contract with, so I am the IT department when we need one. I expect I'll be able to expense anything I need, especially if I get it all up front at the same time. You do have a good point that to use the iPad properly requires just as much bulk of accessories as a laptop would. I also am a little bit concerned about the zip files thing and I'd be happier with a USB port for a flash drive but it is what is, I suppose. I think what it comes down, though, is that they want to buy me either a laptop or an iPad. I already have a laptop that I use for both work and personal stuff, so buying another laptop would just duplicate functionality I already have, and I'm prepared to continue to use that laptop as necessary to supplement the iPad for the gaps in its functionality, whereas the iPad does add some new features that wouldn't have access to with just another laptop.
    Seriously, for the random file types, Goodreader has you covered 99% of the time.

    mobi opens just fine in Kindle.

    there really isn't a file you can't open any more.

    SW-4158-3990-6116
    Let's play Mario Kart or something...
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    GnomeTankGnomeTank What the what? Portland, OregonRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    There are also super cheap Zip apps like iZip Pro if you just want zippyness, and not the whole goodreader package. If you want to use an iPad for something, there is very likely "an app for that".

    The talk of lugging all the gear around is true, to a point. You don't need that gear at all times, and the times when you don't need it, and you are just using the bare iPad, it blows a laptop away for portability and usability for the tasks it's good at. It's rare I even have to use any of my accessories. The only time I pull out my physical keyboard is when I need to write a particularly long e-mail or post. The rest of the time the onscreen keyboard is just fine. I can actually type on it pretty fast.

    I am certainly no Apple fanboy...I program on PC's for a living and don't own a Mac...but I am a total iPad convert. When we bought our first one "for the family", it got so much use that six months later I had to go buy my own to get any time with it. We now have three in the house. My ex-wife's 2, my daughter's 2 that used to be mine, and my new 3.

    GnomeTank on
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