Packing The Laptop

David Sparks, on the decision whether or not to bring his laptop on a trip:

There’s a part of me that would love to leave it at home. I do a lot of computing from the iPad and I can often go days without needing a Mac. However, some days I really need a Mac. If I can leave the laptop at home, it means significantly less gear and weight.

There is also the intangible part of this equation. I just enjoy working on the iPad. I like the relative simplicity of it. I like being able to use the Apple Pencil when the mood strikes me and I particularly like the way using (essentially) a piece of glass as my computer makes me feel like I’m living in the future.

There are plenty of obvious benefits to bringing only a tablet while travelling. 1 It depends really on what you need to get done. For me, it’s highly unlikely that I need to get any work done while travelling so the iPad is the perfect device 99% of the time. But if I needed to get work done there is no question that I would need to bring my laptop, which is something David highlights in his post:

I always have to stop and think about what work I intend to get done and whether the iPad is up to the task. On this particular trip I’m worried because I’m still in the process of finalizing a large client transaction which means I may need to spend time with a significant number of files and some complex Microsoft Word documents. Microsoft Word is great on the iPad except when it comes to making changes to style formatting, which it can’t do. When I work on big transactions, there is lots of style formatting.

The real problem is that we all have this list of things that are either impossible or a lot more difficult on the iPad than they are on the Mac. When deciding whether you are going to use a iPad for 10 minutes or a five day trip, we still have to go through the same calculus. Until the iPad can get closer parity to the Mac where we don’t have to go through this mental journey every time we take a trip, the iPad will never reach its full potential.

I’m looking forward to a day when the choice between which device to bring will purely be one of preference. We are still a long way away from that, but I hope it’s not as far away as it seems.

  1. Thinner, lighter, better battery life, can be used while sitting or standing etc.