Monday, April 23, 2012

Time to Leave the MacBook Air Home?

Andy Ihnatko thinks that in Apple's post-PC world you can leave the laptop at home and function with just an iPad. I don't have the 3rd generation iPad, but Ihnatko's not far off. Accessing your home PC with a retina display sounds like an amazing experience. The LTE connection doesn't hurt either.

Slow-roast revolution

Whatever we want to call it we’re definitely in some sort of slow-roast revolution. I can tell because over the past six months, I’ve let go of my last shreds of desire for an 11in MacBook Air.

You may recall the little passion play I went through last year. I had a review unit for a month or two and the first time I travelled with a full-featured MacBook in the magazine pocket of my smallest satchel instead of in a special bag filled with accessories, I fell deeply in lust. I might have pulled the trigger and bought one, if not for the fact that I’d upgraded my MacBook Pro just a few months earlier.

Two things have happened since then. First, iOS app developers have become much bolder. On Day One, they were writing apps that treated the iPad as a content consumption device. By the time the iPad 2 was released, they thought of it as a machine that could handle many functions of a ‘real’ computer, during those specific instances when it’s just not worth hauling around a full-sized notebook.

Today, more and more developers are confident that the iPad is indeed a real computer, and are expressing that confidence by making desktop-class iOS apps – with Apple leading the way, of course. The new iPad edition of iPhoto isn’t just competitive with the desktop version, the tactile nature of the iPad makes it superior to most of the available consumer-grade image editors for Mac OS and Windows.

The second thing was the arrival of the third-gen iPad. Dammit, this is a sweet display. I expected that the Big Win of the Retina display would be crisper text and sharper graphics. Naw. It turns out that the 2,048 x 1,536 screen opens up the iPad to new functions that it couldn’t really handle very well. VNC sits at the top of that list. VNC was a bit clumsy on the iPad 1 and 2. On the new iPad, it’s damned-near perfect. The iPad’s display exceeds the resolution of your MacBook back home, and the LTE mobile broadband dramatically reduces the range of situations under which you won’t have a decent internet connection.

No, I no longer wish I had an 11in Air. What I have here – a third-generation iPad and an Apple Wireless Keyboard – is better. I have better-than-good native iOS apps to handle almost all of my mobile needs. When only a desktop app will do, I have VNC, and/or the wonderful OnLive Desktop service that allows me to run Microsoft Office on a virtualised Windows 7 server.

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