Wednesday 12 November 2014

iPad Air – the best laptop I’ve ever had!

I am seriously in love with my iPad. Pah! those are words I never expected to write. Until a few years ago I would have considered anything made by Apple to be beneath contempt. I mean, i-This and i-That – they are all just glitz and slogans aimed to syphon money from the weak minded (I might once have said).

My iPad Air with the Logitech keyboard - a great combination!
My descent down the slippery slope started a few years ago when (rather against my better judgment) I bought an iMac. There was a good reason for this. I was teaching some online programming courses  and many of my students were Mac users. They started requesting help about using the Mac, running programs in the Terminal and so forth. The only way for me to answer those questions was to buy a Mac and try it out myself. I have to admit that the Mac is a lovely piece of kit – both the software and the hardware look so much nicer than any PC I’ve ever used. Even so, most of my day-to-day work continues to be done on Windows (version 7) on my PC.

Windows Pains

Yes, there’s the point. I still use Windows 7. That’s significant. I first used Windows in version 2. I started using Windows as my default operating system with version 3.1. I’ve used every version of Windows ever since (including the unlovely Vista) right up until Windows 8 appeared. I took one look at the Windows 8 user interface and read one or two glowing reviews written by journalists who seemed to think it was the bee’s knees and decided Windows 8 would never darken my PC screen. Microsoft was clearly trying to nobble the established mobile marketplace by forcing its desktop users to switch to an operating system that was designed for a mobile device. I would have none of it!

But what Microsoft also succeeded in doing when it launched Windows 8 was making me rethink my long-term dedication to Microsoft operating systems. Windows 8 made me realise that I could no longer trust Microsoft to provide me with the system software I needed. My experience with the iMac had convinced me that there was no essential reason why I should use Windows when OS X ran all the software (mainly programming, word processing and multimedia editing) that I require. And when I finally decided that I needed a mobile device, it never occurred to me even for one split second to think about something that ran Windows. Only two realistic choices presented themselves to me – Android or iOS. And iOS won.

Air Today, Gone Tomorrow

When Apple launched its new iPad Air 2 recently they dropped the price of its previous iPad Air  model. The entry-level 16GB iPad Air used to cost £399. It now costs £319. Having glanced over the new features of Air 2 it didn’t take me long to decide that I could do without the new gold colour scheme and 1.4 mm decrease in thickness. I’d rather save the cash and get an Air 1, which is what I did. I decided to go for 32GB model which set me back £359 (including VAT and delivery). This comes with a very decent range of software including audio and video editing packages (Garageband and iMovie) plus the Pages word processor.

The Logitech keyboard attaches to the iPad so I can 'close them up' like a regular laptop.
Now I plan to user my iPad principally for word processing with the possibility of also doing some programming at a later date. While you can type text using an on-screen keyboard, this is definitely far from ideal for my purposes. So the next thing I needed to get was a keyboard. There are many keyboards available for iPad but the one that pretty consistently gets the best reviews is the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. Once again, my decision to go for the last version of the iPad rather than the latest one saved me some money. The Ultrathin keyboard for iPad Air 1 used to cost about £90 but now you can get one for under £30. And what a fantastic addition to the iPad this is! The iPad slots into a magnetised groove to hold it at an angle on the keyboard or closes over the keyboard area to create a sort of hinged-cover that transforms my iPad into a fantastic, lightweight alternative to a conventional laptop computer.

I must admit that I had my doubts when I first decided to buy an iPad. But once I added on that keyboard the doubts vanished. This is absolutely perfect for doing work pretty much any time anywhere, at a desk, at home or on the move. Definitely the best portable computer I’ve ever owned.