The Great Post-PC Experiment -- day 1 notes

The Great Post-PC Experiment -- day 1 notes

Summary: A full day is under my belt in the test to use only an iPad 2 for an extended stretch. The day went pretty well and some interesting observations were made.


I've done it! The first day in the great experiment of leaving the PC turned off is behind me, and it went pretty well. As expected, the battery in my iPad 2 has plenty of juice left even after a long day of use.

See related: Walking the walk -- the Great Post-PC Experiment

So far I haven't run into any major gotchas in using just the iPad 2, everything has been mostly as I expected. I was able to experiment with a few things that I've found difficult to do on the iPad in the past, and get around them with relative ease. As a result I have not had to resort to using one of the remote desktop methods for accessing a "real" computer from the iPad.

In no particular order here are the major observations of day one from using only the iPad for everything:

I used the iPad 2 in tablet mode most of the time, only using the keyboard for extended writing sessions. This led to me working far more comfortably than I normally do working at a desk all day. The work with the tablet can be done literally anywhere, and even using the keyboard it's easier to keep an ergonomic setup.

It's important to restate that I only use the keyboard for extended writing sessions. Commenters complaining that my test has me "carrying an extra piece (keyboard)" miss the fact the keyboard is rarely used, and becomes one with the iPad in the case when it is used. That is significant.

I worked in several venues over the course of the day, and I used the iPhone 4S to get the iPad online a couple of times. I believe Apple has done something to optimize iPad use with 3G on the iPhone 4S. It seems much faster than the speed tests show it to in fact be, quite noticeably so. I don't believe that's my imagination, it consistently felt like a fast connection when it wasn't.

I tested using the two remote desktop solutions with both the slower iPhone tethering method and the Verizon 4G LTE mobile hotspot. As I suspected might be the case, OnLive Desktop will not work over 3G; it fails to connect every time. LogMeIn not only connected fine over 3G, it worked rather well with the slow speeds. Both methods worked fine over 4G.

The first day went rather well, and while it is much too soon to conclude if this will work for an extended business trip I am feeling pretty good about it. I'll get into other details about how I am using the iPad for different things as I get further into the test. Meanwhile, happy computing no matter where you do it or what you use.

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Tablets, Wi-Fi

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I hate to be the bearer of bad news

    but that iPad 2 is a PC.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • It is ? Really ?

      Then throw your notebook / deskbook out and use it as such.

      • Huh?

        I don't use an iPad 2. Most of my work could be used by the Asus Transformer Prime that I might be getting soon. I was merely pointing out that there are very few things more personal than tablets.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • iPad is a personal computer.


        The word "PC" will eventually be redefined. For decades it has been claimed, associated, branded with x-86-32 general-purpose desktop or laptop computer. The iPad is not that type of PC, and I don't think it will ever become that type of PC. It does not matter if one is able to throw their notebook/desktop out or not, that's their personal choices. But that does not take away from the fact that the iPad [b]is[/b] a Personal Computer (aka PC). A modern appliance-type personal computing device.

        Get this, smart Phones are also "PCs" in your pocket. Remember the whole "pocket PC" branding a couple years ago?
      • @dave95

        Le gasp, somebody agreeing with me!
        Michael Alan Goff
    • LOL

      yeah, and you do the 'hoovering' with a Dyson, tape up your parcels with 'sellotape' actually called '3M adhesive tape' , etc, etc...

      Also you should be calling it a 'computer running windows' if you are that vain!!!
      quit the stupidity, we are meant to be intelligent people here... :)
      • What makes the iPad -not- a PC

        It is a computer and it is personal. Some might argue it is more PC than a Windows computer, due to the 1-user setting instead of having it be a multi-user setup.
        Michael Alan Goff
  • A bit more detail....

    What tasks are you doing with the iPad and how?

    I ask as if the majority is just "writing".......
  • possible but not lomg term.

    Actually, what they were saying Jim is, "Adding the keyboard makes the tablet pretty much a laptop, even if you don't use it, you still carry what amounts to the same equipment."

    I have used an iPad 2 with pages, evernote, and the like and feel it is very capable... I have also used the Sony Tablet S with Kingsoft Office, Evernote, and the like and I feel it is also capable.

    basically, these devices work for you in a pinch, then great, if not... then there are alternatives.
  • This is like Lent???

    Give up somthing you really enjoy fopr a few days to prove you can do it. And then rejoice when it's over.
  • Looking forward to your new Macbook purchase James...

    People who continue to blast the Post-PC horn obviously don't have traditional computing needs. Either that, or they have been doing such mundane tasks on their laptops that they have lost the definition of what real work is.

    You carry a slate, keyboard, case, mobile hotspot and smartphone with you when mobile. That's 5 items. I'm assuming you also use a gear bag for that. How many pounds does all of that weigh, how much did all of that gear cost and what do you pay monthly for voice+data? Answer those three, and I bet I can show you ways it can be done better, for less!!!

    I hate to break the news, but you'll never be 100% post-PC James. The closest you'll get is with a netbook like what I use.
    • I'll wait

      I'm looking forward to AMD's tablet chips to get to a level where performance is in line with my X120e. Basically, if they have a next-gen Brazos-level performance chip in a Windows 8 slate tablet, then I'll be happy. I have an iPad 1 that crashes REGULARLY (as in several times a day) since iOS5 shipped for it. I thought Apple stuff was designed to "just work"... My laptop has BSOD'd exactly ONCE since I bought it almost a year ago, and that crash was caused by iTunes! All of the issues are attributed to the iPad 1's lack of memory. Most of the time it's Safari and Mail that crash. HTML5 video doesn't always play the video stream either. The crash logs are supposed to be sent to Apple too, and most third-party developers have had to revise their apps to support low-memory situations with iOS5 on the iPad1. Doesn't Apple look at their own apps?

      Why do I want AMD though? One word: graphics. Although I don't have high-end graphics needs, what I do want is a fairly energy-efficient chip with graphics capable of real GPU acceleration in supported applications, and decent battery life without high cost. Intel's graphics are lame, and I don't see them innovate at all here. Sandy Bridge GPU cores are DX10 - JUST ENOUGH to pass WinQual requirements, which has been a sticking point in Intel's past (remember how Intel lobbied Microsoft to release Vista Basic, and then 7 Starter, just because their chips couldn't handle the multimedia in Home Premium? ALL of AMD's chips met WinQual standards at the time!). Some have high hopes for Ivy Bridge - I don't. Just look at Intel's history in graphics dating back as far as the i740, and you know that they're all half-baked. Also, the low-cost, good battery, and good performance options with Intel always end up omitting one of those choices. I could go with an Atom for low-cost, and energy-efficiency, but the performance is too much of a trade off. Not to mention that Intel has never offered to put HD video as a feature into Atom's, nor their chipsets. Direct3D support is just an afterthought.

      As far as the keyboard stuff goes, I can deal with the on-screen keyboard in Windows 8. Hell, I've already been using one on the iPad for well over a year now. The keys are no smaller than on my X120e anyway. If I really need to sit at a desk and type, I can still plug USB input devices into the tablet, or a matching dock anyway.
    • too true!

      yes, as I sit here going through 100's of webpages, I am mostly using my scrollmouse to scroll through, and select articles to read.. Exactly how fast can you do that, **without** moving your hand more than an inch or so, and keeping you elbow firmly on the desk??

      This is why pad PC's are mainly for those on the move, and not for heavy use.. some sort of mouse-type interface would have to be done, and builders do not like moving parts that fail and get clogged up!! software solutions have not been good either..

      There are addons that will work - a keyboard that will roll up into a small pocket size, and a scrollmouse than will collapse and fit into a spare card bus slot!
  • Don't need to experiment

    If/when you're "post-PC" you'll know it because you won't be using the PC anymore. If it's meant to happen it will happen. Forcing it is really kinda foolish.
  • The post-PC era will be here when nobody buys a PC, anymore

    until then it is just a catch phrase to entice readers to this site.
    John Zern
  • Re: The Great Post-PC Experiment ??? day 1 notes

    Congratulations on your first successful day using just the iPad/accessories!
  • In a pinch an ipad can replace a laptop but not for everything, not yet.

    How well did it run those flash games that I find my kids like to play?

    How well does it handle WoW, or any other MMOs? (again my kids love some of those games.)

    How well did it run Audacity and mix together those tracks?

    Does it run my favorite photo editing program so that I no longer need the laptop/desktop? (No not some dumbed down photo editor that some people like.)

    How well did all its needed features work in those dead areas of the world that have no cloud access? (If one only hops from major city to major city the cloud is mostly fine but there are huge rural areas that I often find myself in where the only clouds are wet fluffy things in the blue sky.)

    I can use my smart phone for dumbed down computing and if I had to I am sure I could put up with its challenges and limitations for an extended time, while trying to make a point, but it would not be my first choice for many things I do on laptops or on a desktop.

    While the ipad is a wonderful computing device, and is a great companion device, I am not so sure I would select it as a long-term replacement for an actual laptop/desktop. Not yet anyway. In time probably, but not yet.
    • hmm

      You picked some bad examples...

      Yes I know the feature set is smaller but the Photoshop Touch is pretty nice and there are full featured mixing apps for editing audio tracks. Also, there are MMORPGs on these tablets as well.
    • Great

      Congratulations, you've concluded that an iPad won't fit your personal or professional needs at this time. Just like with the early desktop, and the laptops that followed, millions of consumers (like James) will also be deciding if an iPad or tablet fits their own personal/professional needs. Fortunately, we are not all the same performing the same daily tasks and requiring the same tools. Some may conclude it's not sufficient or needed and others may conclude that it's very much a capable "post-pc" device for their own personal and professional needs.

      btw, there's plenty of solutions for running Flash on an iPad, just look it up. Or the kids could play the thousands of other cool iOS games. One can even play WoW if one likes, you just have to know where to look cause it won't be something that's done native on the iPad (yet).
  • re:

    I really don't think we're entering a truly "Post-PC" era where the PC will actually stop being used.

    I think we're entering a convergence era where the PC is one of [b]many[/b] acceptable form factors.