I’ve been thinking recently.
I know. It’s not like me…and yet still it happens.
My old laptop is now tottering towards digital senility, and I’m left with the quandary of what to replace it with? My needs are reasonably mild – writing, blogging, research, a bit of audio production here, a dab of video creation there – nothing that requires a powerhouse machine. Even if I did need some extra grunt then my Mac Mini is more than up for most tasks. So the question that echoes around the empty caverns of my mind with alarming regularity is ‘Can I use my iPad as a laptop replacement?’
Over the next month or so I’m going to find out.
Before I write that piece I need to get a few things in place and add a few accessories into the mix. I already have a wireless Apple keyboard which I use with the aforementioned Mac Mini. The onscreen iPad keyboard is actually very good, but using it for any extended writing sessions always gives me a crick in my neck, so an external one seems like a good option.
My iPad already has a case, which can double as a stand, but I find that it sits a little low and ushers forth the crick once more. So I need something that will keep the device portable, while elevating the screen and preventing it from toppling forward into my coffee cup. What’s that? A stand, you say? What a splendid idea!
The Griffin A-Frame is such a contraption.
When you first pick up the stand you can tell from the gentle heft that it is built to last. The aluminium construction feels sturdy and solid, two qualities that I usually hope for when I entrust the safe-keeping of a £500 piece of glass to something’s care. The central piece of the stand swings back to a set distance which offers a good viewing angle for an iPad in portrait mode, but I have to say that the angle is a little shallow when you change to landscape.
Griffin know that Apple have a penchant for elegantly styled and easily scratched devices, so the contact points on the stand are all covered in soft rubber to avoid damage and safeguard the resale value of its prospective passengers.
One of the real advantages that the A-Frame has over many of its rivals is the large chin that compromises the base of the unit. This means that the iPad sits about an inch or two above the desk, which is closer to a normal laptop than many of the traditionally low-slung tablet stands I’ve used. Crick…be gone.
In use the A-Frame is just about perfect. The iPad doesn’t wobble or exhibit any lemming-like tendencies while on the stand, and there is even a cutout on the back of the A-Frame which allows you to feed through a power cable neatly – although this only really works in portrait mode. The wide base is also open enough to hold an iPad in a case, which further maintains the safety of the device.
In truth it’s a little heavy, not stupidly so, and it’s only to be expected due to the solidity of the product, but when added to the Apple keyboard it does mean that the overall weight becomes similar to a normal laptop. Albeit a laptop that can be taken apart without the need for torx screwdrivers and heatguns. Now there’s an idea, Apple!
I managed to find a solution to the landscape viewing angle problem in the end by simply placing the case that usually holds my iPad under the stand. Hey presto, it’s a mini laptop.
Of course the question will be asked ‘Why not just use an actual laptop?’
Well, I know that I’ll always have a tablet from now on. They just suit my lifestyle very nicely. If I’m going to have one anyway then it makes sense to try and adapt the device into my workflow. If it can carry the weight then I’ve saved about £1000 on a new MacBook Pro. Packing a few extra items in my bag to make this happen feels like a fair trade, and of course once I finish work I can put the keyboard away, prop the iPad on the stand and waste the evening watching Youtube.
The Griffin A-Frame retails for around £20 online. It’s a very useful bit of kit, and doubles as a handy desk stand on which to charge the iPad or use it as a second screen when working on your main machine at home. Simple, sturdy, and affordable. That’s all the boxes ticked for me.