Nothing but iPad

I tell people all the time how great it is to travel "tech light". In other words, leaving the bulky laptop, power adapter and other related supplies at home, and only take my iPad and iPhone on the go. Some would say, "But that's not fair because you don't do a lot of 'heavy lifting' when you travel". Well, true... but we all generally do less "heavy lifting" when we travel, right? Either way, it gave me an idea... why not push the envelope a little further and see what happens when I leave my laptop at home, for an entire day... at the office. So I did, and I called it... "iPad Thursday".

I had three objectives in mind when I started this experiment:

1) To see if it could be done with my normal, every day workflow
2) To really test the battery on my iPad with Retina
3) To look for gaps when potentially using a device like this as a full-time laptop replacement

Full disclosure

In order to give you a picture of what my work area looks like... I normally have a 15" MacBook Pro with Retina (with external 24" Apple Cinema Display) and a 24" iMac on my desk. On "iPad Thursday", however, I had no MacBook Pro (ok, I brought it just in case, but it spent the day in its bag), and my iMac sat mostly idle (read on).

What I could do

A normal day for me consists of LOTS of email, calendaring, remote support or server access, access to various online systems, proposal reviews, etc. In my experiment, ALL of that was completely possible, however, I did run into one snag...

What I couldn't do

At one point, I had a fellow employee ask me to burn them a disc with software on it. Well, considering the iPad has no optical drive, this was obviously going to be impossible with just my iPad. That's the one and only time I had to fire up my iMac.

In complete fairness, there were some things that I didn’t have the need to do today. For example, I do quite a bit of work in Adobe PhotoShop. That would have required me to fire up my MacBook Pro with Retina.


The question that you should be asking at this point would be, "What software did I use during the day to get work done?" That's a great question. Here's a list of every app that I launched today, to get work (and some fun) done:

:: Mail (for LOTS of email)
:: Calendar (for scheduling)
:: Contacts (for addresses and phone numbers)
:: Jump Desktop (for remote client/server connectivity using VNC)
:: GoToManage (for end-user support)
:: Keynote (for editing/creating presentations)
:: Pages (for editing/creating word processing documents)
:: Numbers (for spreadsheet work)
:: iTunes (for background music)
:: Safari (for web browsing)
:: ADHelpDesk (for Active Directory maintenance)
:: Tweetbot (for tweeting)
:: 1Password (for password management)
:: Calculator (for math)
:: Maps (for looking up local business phone numbers)
:: Messages (for Instant Messaging)
:: Reminders (for task management)
:: Paper by FiftyThree (for sketches, whiteboard drawings, etc)
:: iBooks (for storing, reviewing and marking up proposals in PDF format)
:: DocuSign Ink (for signing and annotating PDF documents)

Although I didn't need to use it today, I also rely on GoToMyPC, which is a great app that allows me to remotely control my MacBook Pro from either my iPad or iPhone. This is what I use when I absolutely need to use my MacBook Pro while traveling with just my iPad. It's a monthly subscription service, but well worth it (and very reliable).

Power consumption

I started my day with a 95% charge on my iPad's battery, and that was about 7:30a. That's the last time it saw a charger. I did spend some time in short meetings, but not much (it was a light meeting day for me). The rest of the time, I was actively using the iPad for work. I did start to get a bit nervous around 3:30p, when my battery gauge showed 15% battery remaining. When it hit 9% at 4:15p, I finally gave in and found a 10-watt power adapter to charge the device long enough to finish the day. Considering I used the device for 8 hours and 45 minutes with 9% remaining, and the fact that I used it pretty heavily throughout the day, I'd say the battery performed very well.


Working solely from an iPad all day, every day may not be for everyone. I know of many traveling salesmen that use them exclusively for work (mainly email, calendaring and presentations), and in circumstances like that, it would work well (also keeping in mind the awesome battery life). For those who are "technology challenged", it may also be a leap that they are unwilling to take. For me, I will go back to using my MacBook Pro with Retina routinely (I did somewhat miss having the ability to have multiple windows open at the same time), but it's good to know that I at least have the option of working a full day with just my trusty iPad.

Posted on June 4, 2013 and filed under iPad, Opinion.