Tuesday, November 06, 2012

MacBook Air vs. iPad: waiting for the keyboard

When I travel for business I want to have a personal device with a keyboard and 1024+ horizontal resolution in addition to my obligatory corporate laptop. 

I am quite fond of my MacBook Air 11", but it has several limitations for this use case:

  1. The power adapter is compact, but still on the large side of portable life.
  2. The battery is only good for about 4 hours of use with WiFi enabled.
  3. I can't sketch on it.
  4. The OS and software suite "expects" unlimited high speed net access.
  5. Many OS X apps and especially "non-mobile" web sites are designed for larger than 11" Air screens or expect (yech) Flash.
  6. OS X calendar/contact/task software don't sync as well with ActiveSync servers as iOS.
  7. Although the Air is very compact, it is a tight fit next to my massive corporate WinTel box

I believe, once the keyboards come out, that the iPad Mini solves these problems:

  1. The power adapters is very compact. Since I have to carry a similar adapter for my iPhone it is arguably non-existent.
  2. Ten hour battery life.
  3. Sketchable
  4. iOS runs on ARM and is designed for a power and data constrained environment. (non-Retina screen is a feature here, not a defect.)
  5. Apps I use especially web browser and sites fit device specs.
  6. iOS is a decent ActiveSync cient.
  7. The iPad Maxi with Logitech kb is about the same size as my Air, but the Mini is significantly smaller. On the other hand, there's no Logitech kb for the Mini and no commitment to make one.

I think a Mini purchase meets Gordon's Laws of Acquisition, even without considering its use in other contexts such as a personal device at the office, and as an eBook reader. It might eventually turn my Air into a family machine with an external monitor. The key test though is keyboard support, so I need to play with the Mini at the Apple store and wait until a good case/KB solution emerges.


Charlie Stross said...

Zagg are promising an iPad mini keyboard case, probably similar to the ZaggFolio. ZaggKeys Mini 7 is an 8" keyboard case sized for the iPad mini; the Mini 9 is a "full size" folio case that takes an iPad Mini but has a larger keyboard. And in the meantime, the Chinese factory who manufactured the old Think Outside folding keyboards in the PalmOS days are offering a cheap bluetooth knock-off that works with iOS. Google on Dracotek to hunt them down.

Jonathan said...

Hi John & Charlie (!),

Ditto w/ Charlie's recommendation. The folding keyboard is a useful piece of kit. (I bought a spare for my Pandora, assuming it ever ships.) Plus people go "ooooh" when they see you open it.