(sort of) Back to Basics

Here’s where I explain why I’m trading in my iPad 2 for a used netbook.

Don’t worry … it will all make sense. Eventually.

I won an iPad 2 last year at a trade show. It wasn’t a piece of technology I would buy for myself, but there was no way I would turn it down. It’s well designed, extremely light and has an excellent battery life.

But I barely use it. I really tried, but it hasn’t become part of my daily computing routine. Traveling with a laptop and iPad seems a bit pointless, not to mention time consuming when I start emptying my bags at airport security. Writing with it is a chore unless I drag along a Bluetooth keyboard (which costs extra). Using it to check e-mail is redundant when that task falls to my smart phone.

Yes, the phone … that pocket-sized device that lets you take crappy pictures and check-in from the restroom. When I communicate with people, I tend to use the phone. Of course, “communicate” is everything from using social media to check-in from Taiwan to asking my wife if we need anything at the grocery store.

Then there’s the other side of my computing life … content creation. Writing, photo processing and video editing are all things that apps are designed to, but they don’t really work for me on the iPad. I’ve always seen the iPad as a consumption device. It’s an extremely well-designed consumption device, but I generally need more horsepower for the photos and videos. My desktop system handles most of that content.

Yes, I still use a desktop computer. You try getting 8 TB of hard drives and a BluRay burner into a laptop. It’s not really practical.

Writing is a different story. Writing doesn’t need horsepower. I just need a good keyboard and a text editor with spell check. Saving my work requires access to Dropbox, Google Drive or a simple USB thumb drive. It doesn’t need touch or oodles of apps. But it has to have a good keyboard. A real keyboard.

I’ve owned four netbooks, starting with the original Asus EeePC. For me, it was a great writing too. If I was in the market for a new computer, I’d be eyeballing an ultrabook like the Lenovo Twist. The format and layout are familiar to me, since I used these tiny little gizmos for years to blog my way around the world. The iPad with a keyboard is similar, but hasn’t become my go-to device for writing (trust me, I tried).

Now my iPad 2 is in my wife’s hands, her old iPad is in the “repurpose” bin and the old HP netbook is running Ubuntu and sitting on my lap. Bringing this older machine back from the shelf shows me how little I actually need to focus on writing. I hope recycling my old lappy will help get my writing habit back. I just need something better than old computers to write about.

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