It’s opening day for your WORLD CHAMPION SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS, who I will hopefully be around next week when the home opener happens. But in the meantime, it’s a bright gorgeous sunny day and the urge to have work outside today is overwhelming. Unfortunately, a bog-standard two year old MacBook Pro 15″ is not the ideal contraption for this, given its battery life (or lack thereof relative to more modern hardware; this was the last model before Apple went to non-removable long-lived batteries).
Along those lines, I’ve almost come to my conclusion on portable devices, which is this: as long as I have a work-provided laptop and a home desktop, the iPad is the only plausible option unless it becomes imperative that I have no personal material AT ALL on my work machine. As it is, my personal content resides in a separate account from my work account, and that account is FileVault locked such that all anyone could get at is a single monolithic file of gibberish. Of greater concern is making sure that’s not my primary repository for my stuff, since the Time Machine backup is a bit squirrely with FileVault-ed home directories, but between that and Mozy I could probably reconstruct myself on a new machine sooner than later.
Which means that my first job should be trying to persuade the powers that be at the office to put me on a leaner, lighter machine. I don’t think a MacBook Air is realistic for my work system, but a 13″ MacBook Pro should be eminently doable next time, especially given the firepower even the lowliest pro laptop from Apple is packing these days, and something like that would be a killer for ARD and the like. As for personal use, well, if you take iTunes contents out of the equation (and the 150 GB of space taken up by same) the rest of my stuff would also fit in a nice lean setup – in fact, 90% of what I would like to do at work would be handled by a carefully-chosen browser (the combination of Firefox and Tor would let me browse my RSS and blogs, post to WordPress via the web interface, write in Evernote where applicable, etc etc) without the hassle and inconvenience of even setting up a separate account. Let the iPhone itself handle podcast downloads (via Downcast) or the acquisition of new apps and music on the road (through the iTunes App/Music Stores) – I can always do the OS update when I get home, and since home is on 12Mbps, it’s no longer a question of “do it at work or else do it overnight”.
Which brings us back to the iPad. I demonstrated a couple of years ago that you really need a proper laptop if you’re going to do NaNoWriMo or even NaBloPoMo (although slightly less so for the latter if you don’t hew to a high wordcount requirement). But the Bluetooth keyboard alleviates a lot of that, and if you have to have a bag for the iPad (which you do) the keyboard isn’t a particularly trying addition.
“But you struggled with the netbook! How is a 1024×768 iPad going to be appreciably better than a 1024×600 netbook?” For one thing, the iPad isn’t having to prop up a laptop OS – even Ubuntu Netbook Remix is heavier than iOS, and with the iPad you’re not wasting precious space with things like a menu bar or dock or the other accoutrements of a desktop OS interface. For another, running a phone OS on an A5 processor is easier than running Linux on an Atom – despite everyone’s best efforts, the Atom is still struggalicious and can’t deliver a fraction of the video that an iPad can stream over a similar connection (although in fairness, much of that is down to the iPad eschewing Flash and forcing everything to be in HTML5 for video). Scaled-up iOS on a larger screen can’t help but be quicker than a system that doesn’t have the overhead of a full OS and a spinning hard drive.
So if I were to make a move at this point, it’d be iPad – just because if I can’t get in there and expand the RAM and storage, I’d rather spend $630 than $1100. I HAZ A LOGIC, ALSO A CHEEP.
Of course, now I will continue to get along with the iPhone and Kindle for as long as I can get away with it…but I do hear a hibiscus iced tea calling my name. BRB.