Every time I pack my bag for a work trip, at some point I inevitably face the same conundrum: which device do I bring to work on? Macbook or iPad?
(Let me specify that work for me means videography or photography. Which means handling the transfer of large amounts of media, backing up data, editing and exporting footage in the field, and more.)
Since the announcement of the first iPad there has been a promise that it could replace your laptop for work. One device only millimeters thick that could do everything your now clunky feeling laptop could. And to some extent this promise has always been true. In the early days the uses of an iPad for work limited but there was potential, such as syncing photos via a SD dongle and taking your photos with you on the go. Not the most powerful application but it created a new way to bring your portfolio with you. Then came apps that allowed you to edit photos and publish them to the web instantly, changing how we share media and contributing to our digital lifestyle. Even today with the iPad Pro, Apple continues to push the narrative, adding stylus control and file management with the latest generation. But when push comes to shove and I have to pick based on workload and packing space, I've never picked iPad over laptop. Here's why.
If all you need for your business is a word processor, internet, or access to basic applications, then you might be able to make the switch. But using a laptop is so easy that I have been swayed buy the allure of my smaller iPad for my more utilitarian laptop. Need to plug in a SD card? Laptop has that built in. Need to plug in 3 SD cards or a CF card? Easy, use a card reader via USB. How about backing up footage? USB 3 all the way to your closest external Hard Drive. And what happens when you need to manage files or cull photos while you have time at the airport? Laptop has you covered.
In fairness, iPads and tablets have closed the gap considerably within recent years. Many of the functions prized by laptops can now be done on an iPad as well. The problem is that it's usually through a series of steps or workaround solutions that take longer and are more prone to introducing error through out the process. And that extra time and risk isn't something worth me trading in the ease of my laptop. Yet.
Today we have laptops that are tablets (Microsoft Surface) or tablets that can act as laptops (iPad Pro with it's keyboard dock and new folder structure in iOS 11). It's clear that these devices that were once specialists in their own areas of technology have been converging towards becoming similar in result. What it will ultimately come down to is a choice for the consumer between the computing power of the device and the ease of use. For me, an iPad can't replicate the ease of use of my Macbook, and for that reason I'll pick laptop over iPad every time. But the original promise of the iPad still rings in my head every time I'm faced with the decision. Maybe one day it will finally be time to choose iPad over laptop.
Disclaimer: I have not tried the Microsoft Surfaces. Perhaps they are the middle ground I am looking for. But I enjoy the reliability and use of Apple products and so I have chosen to use their ecosystem of products, for better or worse.