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January 17, 2011

Why Take an IPad instead of a Laptop on a Research Trip?

On January 10 I wrote a review of the wireless keyboard versus the keyboard dock for the iPad. Becky left a comment that has includes a great question which I want to address today.

Here is Becky's comment:
I'm not as familiar with these new tools but I'm wondering what the advantage is for using your current set-up that you're written about here (even at RootsTech) over simply using a laptop on your lap on the sofa or at RootsTech? I don't have a netbook either, but that would be very portable. Can you explain the advantages of this iPad with the wireless keyboard setup? I'm just trying to learn.
Thanks for the good (and important) question Becky. My choices might not be the choices that are best for others but they work well for me. I have physical challenges and use a cane so anything extra that I need to carry has to be thought about carefully. But I think the awkardness of a laptop in terms of size and weight will hold true for most travellers.

My HP Laptop
First - size. It does matter. My laptop is not  a small notebook. It's big, heavy and awkward compared to my iPad. Resting it on my lap is uncomfortable and painful after an hour or more.

Laptop dimensions in inches: 12x11x2
iPad in case: 10x8x1/2

Laptop weight: 5 1/2 lb.
iPad out of case weight: 1.6 lb. The case is not heavy so not much weight is added

My Laptop
beside standard business envelope
The laptop has to go in a padded laptop case, which then goes on a wheeled laptop cart. It is awkard to drag it through the airport or around in a research library. It is awkward to take off the cart, open the case, remove the laptop, open it and place it so the customs officials can inspect it in the airport. It is difficult to get it in the airplane overhead bins and try to get the cart into the bin too before the attendants snatch it away to put elsewhere.

Ipad in case (sorry it's dirty!)
beside standard business envelope

My iPad slips into my large purse. I can remove it easily, open the case and let customs officials inspect it quickly. I can carry it without difficulty even with my cane.

Wireless Keyboard
beside standard business envelope
With the iPad I opted for an external keyboard which adds to size and weight. But the wireless keyboard is very small  - 11x5x less than 1/4 of an inch! And it weighs about 10 oz. So tucking it into a cloth bag and then into my oversize purse is easy.  

That means I don't have to listen to my husband grumble about having to push a laptop around as well as manage his own luggage, and no muttering under his breath as he tries to get the laptop into the overhead compartment of the plane while other passengers push by. I also forgot to mention that we have to make a minimum of one change, sometimes two, on our way by air from our home to Salt Lake City. So we double or triple the frustration of that cumbersome laptop.

I hope this helps explain why I am convinced that taking an iPad makes more sense (for me) than taking a laptop on a research trip. However since I bought a MacBook Air last week, I'm starting to rethink taking my iPad in favour of taking my new MacBook Air! I'll write about that once I make my final decision.


Your Growing Tree said...

I use my netbook for research while I am on the bus going to work. I love it, the only downfall is that because the screen is small, certain sites like ancestry are a little harder to navigate when you pull up documents. They are not bad, just a little more awkward than normal. I think the iPad would be a good tool, but my personal preference, I like physical keyboards.

I just got my hand scanner..and LOVE it. I keep it in my purse at all times now :)

Keep Smilin

Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski said...

I never thought I would enjoy my iPad as much as I do. However, there is that inability to read anything created with Adobe Flash that is a bit frustrating. I am considering a wireless keyboard and appreciate your thoughts and opinion.


Becky Jamison said...

I'm so glad I asked and I appreciate even more that you took the time to offer such a detailed explanation. Makes perfect sense to me now that you spelled it all out, Lorine. Thank you so much. I'm happy for you that you are so well equipped. I'll be watching for great posts about RootsTech. Actually, I can hardly wait.

And I'm sorry about those little piglets!

Linda Gartz said...

Some day I may get an IPad -- your analysis certainly makes sense for a research trip. Right now I'm just so happy I have a MAC and have learned so much from the 1-1 lessons available at the Apple Store. Best deal around.