I spend most of my working week being extremely mobile. I spend more time mobile during the work week than I do being stationary. This is why, for me, the iPad Air is the perfect mobile computing companion.
Now, I make the above statement recognizing that I still need a bigger screen, mouse, and keyboard computer in my life for my more in depth creation of content like presentations, reports, columns, etc. As a percentage of my weekly schedule those tasks are not 100% of the time. In fact they are less than 50% of the time. The rest of my working time requires me to take meetings, attend events and conferences, network with thought leaders, and more to keep close to the heartbeat of the technology industry.
Portable vs Mobile
I need a traditional PC in my life for a number of dedicated tasks where a workstation environment is necessary. For these tasks I have a MacBook Air and most of the week it stays docked and connected to my large screen monitor. What I have come to realize, as I think about the notebook form factor specifically, is that the notebook is simply a portable desktop. When you think about it this way then you ask the question who needs a portable desktop? There are many mobile workers who need a portable desktop / workstation for their jobs but I promise you it is a lower amount than people think.
This is what makes certain class of tablets ((not all tablets are created equal and not all tablets can replace a PC for the mass market.)) very interesting. They fill the role of the mobile computer for the worker who does not need a portable desktop to be a part of their mobile work flow. I realize that for a good portion of my weekly work time this profile is very much me. But prior to the iPad existing I did not know this about myself. The portable desktop was the only mobile computing solution I had so that is what I used. Now that there is an alternative, I’ve concluded there is a better mobile form factor for my mobile workflow.
Because I bounce all around the Silicon Valley taking meetings with all kinds of people and companies I generally only take the iPad Air with me when I know I will not be stationary for long periods of time. In this mode, the iPad Air is used to do things like take notes, keep up on email, twitter, and show presentations or data. But if a need comes up for me to edit a presentation, or work on a column, or edit a report I can do that as well.
Every now and then a day comes around where I will be stationary for the good part of the day either in a few long meetings or one all day meeting in the same location. When this comes around I bring my notebook instead of my iPad Air. The primary way I decide whether to tote my notebook around or carry my iPad Air around is whether I will be stationary or mobile a greater percentage of the day.
Computing Solutions Not Computing Islands
For my work flow, the iPad Air and a MacBook Air is kept in sync through iCloud and is the ideal multi-screen mobile computing solution for me. Originally, my belief was that the iPad Mini would be more of a second screen companion to a heavy notebook user like myself. But the larger screen of the iPad Air and now its new thin and light form factor, favor me using it as a replacement for my notebook when I am highly mobile. For me, this has become a real revelation.
With the new iPad Mini Retina being available, I know many are still wrestling with which iPad to get. My true sense is that for those computer users who are stationary for long periods of time and use a notebook or desktop in that context they will favor the iPad Mini as a companion to that computing context. But I share my experience for those who are more mobile than they are stationary and are looking for a device that lends itself to more heavy lifting while still being extremely mobile friendly. Which for me is the iPad Air.