Why I'm Not Replacing My iPad

An unnecessary technology?

December 5, 2013

This week I changed jobs at my institution. As part of this shift I had to return all of my devices to the team that I was leaving. 

One of the devices that I returned was an iPad mini.

The question that I’ve been pondering this week is should I replace the iPad?

I’m typing this post on a new MacBook Air (feels just like the old MacBook Air), and while I wavered a bit between the snazzy 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display there was no doubt that I needed a laptop to do my work.

The iPad I’m not so sure.

If I were a student, and my school prioritized the task of making the learning platforms and content tablet compatible, then a tablet would make total sense. I’ve heard from many students that the ability to download articles and videos to their iPad and read/watch them while on the go (or on an airplane or a train or whatever) is incredibly valuable.   

The light form factor and long batter life of a tablet makes for a terrific curricular content consumption device. Easy to pull out for some quick reading or lecture watching when a few minutes present themselves.

I’m having a harder time coming up with a compelling work reason spend money on a new iPad.  

I can’t seem to think of a single work task (at least my work) that a laptop does not do better than a tablet.   

This is not to say that I think that you, or anyone else, should not have a tablet. If your students are using tablets to access course content, and you have a part in creating or supporting those courses, then you should have a tablet.   

What is the rationale for buying a work tablet (having work buy you a tablet) if you are not creating or supporting student tablet work?

The killer app on a laptop is not an app at all.  It is the keyboard.

Every tablet keyboard that I’ve played with is deeply unsatisfying. Can any of you type nearly as quickly, comfortably, or with accurately using a tablet keyboard (either on-screen or those cover/keyboard things) as with a real laptop keyboard?

Are there really times when it is that useful to touch your screen?   

What we do mostly on our work devices is use them to write and use them to read. Only one of those two tasks is great on a tablet.

It is hard to make the argument that tablets are an inferior (and unnecessary) technology at work in the midst of all these smart and productive colleagues using tablets at work.   

I sit in meetings where many people seem to be using their tablets. They are typing on their mechanical or on-screen keyboards. They are writing with a stylus. They are pulling up documents. They are making notes. What do they know that I don’t?

Did I miss the killer higher ed faculty / staff productivity iOS app?

Are all these iPad enthusiasts (and let’s face it - iPads seem to dominate the tablet market - at least on my campus) happily dumping their laptops on the dustbin of history?

Are there two types of academic people in the world?  

Those of us that don’t understand tablets and those of you that do?

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Joshua Kim

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