The One and Only

Several weeks ago we run a poll that asked the very simple question; could you use the iPad as your only computer?

It made me wonder about whether I really could, what the toll on my productivity would be, and how it would change the way I did things. Could I truly ditch my MacBook and move over the the iPad permanently?

Next week I’m actually going to try it, I’m going to power down my MacBook and lock it away – give my iPad a baptism of fire, its first experience in the trenches! I’ll follow this up next week once the experiment has reached its conclusion, but first here are some thoughts on what I’ll love and what I’ll miss…

A Graph

Before I get fully stuck in I thought I’d share a graph with you, and who doesn’t like the odd graph?

Could You Use the iPad as Your Only Computer?

While only a small portion of AppStorm readers could get away with using just their iPad, possibly due to most people having at least one thing they need to do that it’s not capable of. The interesting thing is that a great deal more readers could use their iPad almost all of the time!

Not a great deal needs to change to see those people dropping their full-time computers and turning to the iPad, and with a slightly bigger push it might also be possible to grab those people who can see it happening in the future! Let’s take a look at some Pros and Cons, who doesn’t like a good list?



When it comes to physical size and weight, the iPad is sitting pretty. It’s effortlessly easy to throw in a bag and carry around, and won’t take a toll on your neck muscles…

This means you can work almost anywhere with consumate ease, from a coffee shop to a plane. This size and weight advantage can’t be underestimated, I anticipate it to be one of the most enjoyable things about using solely the iPad for a week – the sheer freedom!


Looking at it from a different point of view, the lack of a physical keyboard is a surefire way to slow down your typing. And, while multitasking gestures have helped, there are a lot of things that are faster using a mouse and some nifty keyboard shortcuts…

For some the slower processing power might have an impact, but in reality (and for my purposes) the iPad actually feels quicker – partly because I have yet to move over to an SSD in my primary machine.

The Smart Cover falls into the Pro category...



All software on the iPad works seamlessly, and that’s a big bonus! There are a vast number of apps in the App Store to achieve what you want to achieve, and many high quality apps in most categories. The form of multitasking that you get on the iPad could actually help you focus more on one thing at a time.

With the addition of a few apps, such as TextExpander and 1Password, the iPad can certainly compete when it comes to being productive, while the natural interconnectedness of iOS could make some tasks easier.


There are a couple of big cons here. First up are the limitations that the App Store places on app availability, some of the apps that you might use daily just aren’t there (and some never will be). One person noted on the poll I mentioned earlier that they couldn’t do bookkeeping from the iPad as the version of Quickbooks that you can get in the App Store doesn’t do everything that they need to do – something that I’m sure is the case for a number of apps.

The differences between OS X and iOS will also feature as a negative for the iPad, with a key problem for some being the lack of an easily accessible file system (you can achieve some things using Dropbox and other apps but it’s not the same).

Running presentations couldn't be easier!

Here Goes

I have to say that I’m quite excited going into this. I really enjoy using my iPad and hope that I discover more and more how useful it can be!

I’ll be sure to report back in a week or so with my findings…

  • minus

    I took the plunge. I can completely use the ipad2 for work.
    The latest Citrix receiver is a big pro.

  • Rik de Vos

    Maybe Apple will come up with an app called “Documents” which would basically create a folder in which you read/write files with your iPad just like a normal filesystem. This would allow you to, for example, create html files which you can edit. Save photos from other apps in the “documents” folder etc etc… Maybe even share the folder on the network so you can access it from your pc, who knows…

    Would be cool, but I think they’ll never do it :-)

  • Ian C.

    I’m on vacation next week and taking only my iPad. I can post pictures of the trip, and email and web access is easy. If I need to do simple work I can “logmein” to the office.
    If I was away longer, I’d have to take the MacBook too, but for a week I can live with the few shortcomings of iPad.

  • Really…

    Maybe this might fly for people with no technical skills. However for those of us who actually create content, write applications and write the software that powers things that allow you to actually say you have a job it’s never going to happen.

    Seriously what is going on with Envato these days, do they not screen people they employee to write posts anymore?

    • Joel Bankhead

      Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough in my article, I wasn’t trying to imply that the iPad would be able to replace the Mac for everyone. In fact I noted how, at the moment, I’d prefer not to move over to the iPad fully as it will certainly take a toll on my productivity. I was more interested in looking at how it would feel moving over to the iPad, particularly when it comes down to what the average user does – I know several people for whom their Macs are glorified web browsers!

      I agree that people in a number of professions won’t ever find the iPad particularly useful in their work, although its charm certainly appeals to those with a creative sensibility – we may well find professional photographers and musicians integrating the iPad into their working lives in the next few years…

    • STFU

      If you don’t like what you read on Envato, read something else. That ought to start screening commenters instead.

    • CLH

      Joel, I found this article immensely interesting and enjoyable. The presence of tablets in an increasing number of people’s lives mean that this question is incredibly relevant and current. It’s so interesting to see how many people say that they could depend on just their iPad! Keep the great articles coming! And maybe this commenter should proofread their comments before posting them; I dread to think what else he has failed to double-check.

  • Matthew Guay

    My iPad’s the only computing device I take on trips nowadays, even though I always still need to work on the road. I’ve edited articles in HTML, written quite a number of full articles and essays (including standard college formatting in .doc formatting from Pages and uploaded via iCab Mobile), made Skype calls, taken notes in meetings, done presentations from keynote, and more. If I had an iPad 2 with a camera, I wouldn’t have any use for my old netbook anymore (not ready to give up video calls though, and I’d rather wait for the iPad 3).

    In short, though, the iPad really is a productive device, and with iOS 5 and the multitasking gestures, it feels like a more productive machine to me every day.

  • Josh Johnson

    Awesome idea Joel. I’m confident that I could pull it off, but I feel like my 10-12 hour workday would turn into an 18 hour workday! Tasks like snapping screenshots, cropping them, marking them up in Photoshop and uploading them to WP only take me a minute or two on my Mac, but significantly longer on my iPad.

    Then again… I’m the editor of Mac.AppStorm so testing Mac Apps really isn’t too easy with only an iPad!

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