Macbook Air 11 vs iPad: Which is Better for Travel?

MBA 11 and iPad 1. Mine is an iPad 3 or 4, I forget which. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paul Hudson

MBA 11 and iPad 1. Mine is an iPad 3 or 4, I forget which. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paul Hudson

I’m going to the Catholic Writers Convention next week.

Or, I suppose I might say that I’m running away for the week. I’m leaving Mama in the care of my husband and sons. They’re apprehensive that she’s going to be downright rebellious about it. Me? I’m a mix of shared apprehension and giddy anticipation of freedom from diaper changing.

I really do feel like an escapee of sorts, leaving my 90-year-old baby behind and all. I am worried, big time worried, about how it will be, with me gone. Nobody else can calm her down and keep her going the way I can.

I’m praying it works out.

In the meantime, I’ve been pondering just what technology (if any) to take with me.

The iPhone goes. No question there.

The desktop stays behind.

The remaining question is whether to take my Macbook Air, or iPad, or nuthin’.

Nuthin’ only applies if I decide that I am not going to do any writing at all while I’m there. I actually did put together a short post on my iPhone, and (Surprise!) it is do-able. But, you know, using a paintbrush to write a post on buffalo hide is do-able also. I’m just not inclined.

Maybe if I ever replace my itty-bitty iPhone 4s with a phablet, that will change. I can sorta see me carting around a keyboard and a phablet, especially when Scrivener (I’m the eternal optimist about this, folks. I think they’re eventually gonna do it.) comes to IOS.

But for today, right now, this weekend, I’ve gotta decide between iPad and Macbook Air.

The MBA is the 11 inch model, and yes, it does fit in my purse. (I carry a messenger bag when I travel, but let’s just call it a purse.) It’s slightly heavier than the iPad, but not all that much.

The big reason for all the hemming and hawing — and also why I’m unlikely to go with just the iPhone, no matter what — is that when I travel to conventions and such, I really enjoy going back to my hotel room at night and watching movies. I have Netflix and Amazon Prime and I relish the alone time (which I don’t have at home) when I can just kick back and enjoy myself.

The MBA is a much better machine for doing stuff. Any kind of writing, even an email, is better on the MBA. Since Scrivener for iPad is still the vaporware that writers dream about, the MBA is the best way to keep the flow going on my book.

However, the iPad ain’t totally shabby for that. If I drag a keyboard along, I can write with it and then move what I’ve written back to Scrivener. I won’t have access to all the Scrivener goodness, including my research files, but I can write straight narrative.

As for blogging, don’t hold your breath. I may take the whole week off. In fact, I’m kind of planning that. If something happens that I just can’t resist blogging about, I will do it. I’d do that if all I had was an iPhone. But, to be honest, I don’t much want to try to conventioneer and blog, both at once.

So … which is it?

iPad and better movie watching, or MBA and better writing?

I can’t seem to make up my mind. I mean that. I may not know what I’m going to do until I pick up one or the other and shove it in my bag.

What would you do?

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An iPad that won’t connect to wifi is just a pad.

My new iPad sucks. The legislator who sits across from me also has a new iPad. His sucks, too.


Because they will not connect to the House of Representatives' wifi.

My scratched and battered iPad Gen 1 connects to the House wifi like it was born to do it. (Which, I believe it was.) However the newer model appears to be pickier about who it associates with. It will connect to my home wifi without a quibble. But at work, my lovely aluminum piece of tech art is not an iPad, it's just a pad.

I have never pondered the uselessness of an iPad that won't go on the internet until recently. Before I got stuck with one, I never considered the possibility of an internetless iPad, not anymore than I spent time day-dreaming about the possibilities of tap-dancing ducks. It just didn't seem likely. Now that I have experienced it, I have to admit that I think a tap-dancing duck would be more useful than an internet free iPad.

I use these things to read bills, follow the agenda on the House floor, check my email and write short to longish memos and notes. My iPad is a life-saver at work. In fact, the reason I own an iPad is because they are so great for a legislator's job. I would rather have an iPad than a computer while on the House floor any day.

But, when it won't connect to the House wifi, all that usefulness goes bye-bye. An iPad without the internet is ok if you want to watch movies, listen to music and write things that you plan to print or email later. In other words, an iPad without the internet is great for ocean or continent-crossing flights. But while we're voting on bills in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, (which is why I own the thing) it's worthless.

I gather from reading about it on the internet, that Apple has been trying to fix this little problem for quite some time now. My advice to them is to crank up the effort. Without the internet, their shiny toy rapidly loses its sheen.

In the meantime, I'm going back to my elderly Gen 1 iPad. If they don't get this fixed soon, I'll see if I can find someone dumb enough to buy an iPad that won't go on the internet.

I miss you Steve Jobs.


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