Two days ago I was comparing the size and weight of the iPad and the 11in MacBook Air. Yet the iPad remains a tablet and few would maintain that a virtual keyboard can wholly replace a laptop. So a bit of help is needed.
I’ve been experimenting by turning my iPad into a touch-screen pseudo laptop with the aid of an Apple wireless keyboard and the Twelve South Compass stand. While this combination does little more than did the now-defunct iPad keyboard (except permit landscape viewing), it is a viable proposition if you need to enter longer texts and don’t want to carry around a MacBook Pro or, even, a MacBook Air.
Moreover, the setup provides a sneak preview of the future of OS X when it finally converges with iOS and adopts touch-screen abilities. I see future laptops offering all the same touch-screen benefits we now take for granted on iPhones and iPads. There is something intuitive about being able to stab the screen rather than manipulating a mouse or touchpad.
The trio of stand, iPad and keyboard takes up a little more room in the bag than, say, an 11in Air, but the iPad has the advantage that you can pull it out and use it alone most of the time. It is easier than opening a laptop. The peripherals are unpacked only when strictly necessary and when you want to do some serious work. In terms of weight, the three components total 2.75 pounds, compared with the 2.3 pounds of the naked 11in Air. Not much in it and it’s hardly a significant factor.
I am sure that a large percentage of people who carry around laptops could well manage with an iPad and a few accessories. Better synchronisation of data under iOS 5 and iCloud will make the switch even less of a compromise. But the iPad, however well surrounded with peripherals, is still inferior to the Air as a full-on computing device. There are still many things, not to mention file management, that are better done with OS X than with iOS. There’s no doubt, though, that the iPad with a wireless keyboard provides an enticing glimpse of the future.