First and foremost my old ASUS TP300L, which is now using Linux Elementary OS is starting to have hardware issues that are at some point going make it into a brick — probably sooner rather than later. Which meant that I had to start really thinking about what I wanted from my next computer.
I have used several different styles and configurations of computers and operating systems over the years, so I am comfortable looking at how I (not anyone else) would use a new computer going forward. Also I have to be realistic in what I want from a computer now that I am retired – not how I used to use my computers in a more professional environment.
What are the differences?
There are some pretty significant differences.
- I don’t have to worry about knowing a specific program or OS for work,
- There is no need for me to program,
- I never did much with music (except to listen to it),
- I do not plan on needing Photoshop quality photo tools,
- I do not foresee any serious video editing,
- I don’t play any high-end computer games.
After looking at how my computer use has been for the last six month — my needs are actually becoming more and more consumption oriented than creation. Other than being able to write and add images or an occasional video to this blog.
Knowing all that does give me the freedom to look beyond the usual suspects or platforms that I have used in the past.
So what is important to me now?
Some things that I do want from my next computer are:
- Portability is important, while I don’t go on business trips or long vacations, I still move around the house with my computer and from time-to-time make trips where I want my computer with me.
- Size is another major consideration, I do a lot of stuff with my computer in my lap on the couch or at the kitchen table. Gone are the days of having a specific desk in the house where I go to do my computer stuff – I use the computer pretty much wherever in the house I happen to be and I am finding that even my 13″ ASUS is too bulky for me. If I want a big screen, I can cast to the TV.
- Whatever computer I get, needs to connect easily to the Internet (almost all do), plus it needs to work well offline and have enough storage that if I don’t want everything I have in Cloud or if the Internet is not available my computer is still functioning and I have access to my data or games that I want to play. Like when we go to Lancaster, there is no Internet, but there is plenty of power.
- Longer battery life – I am almost always close to an outlet, but the idea that the computer can last more 8 hours on a regular basis is something that I want going forward. There are going to be times when I will need this I have a feeling.
- Easily talk with my daughter and grandchildren i.e. Facetime, Skype or something similar, without having to jump through multiple hoops to get the app to work well.
- Having a good selection of quality software (or apps) and the ability to play some of the old Blizzard RPG games based on AD&D.
- Integrates easily with my phone.
There is nothing really earth-shattering on any of those items and many different platforms can do exactly what I want.
I don’t want
While I do know what I want, I also have a pretty good idea of what I do not want also:
- A Windows machine – I am purposely chosing to move in a different direction. Although the Microsoft Surface is a form factor that is close to what I want.
- Another Chromebook – There is something missing with Chromebooks and how I do things – it might just be that I am old-fashioned about wanting more offline storage than most of them have. Whatever the reason each one that I have had, ends up in the end table beside the couch and I go back to using something else after the newness wears off.
- Linux – my experience is that most of the distros are better than I expected or most people believe. However, at this point in my life I don’t want to mess around with the Command line anymore. I had to do too much of it to get the ASUS to the point where I wanted it and to be honest I don’t really want to do it again.
- Android – If I had stayed with my Android phone, I probably would have looked closer at moving to a high-end Android tablet, however once I moved back to an iPhone, doing more with Android wasn’t the direction I wanted to go.
When I look at my past experiences with all the operating systems and what I am looking for now, it become pretty clear that moving to Apple was the choice that I would be making.
Even though I haven’t been in the Apple silo for a while, I do still read the technology blogs, magazines, etc., and attempt to stay somewhat current on what is going on in the world of technology.
Apple – Their products are Expensive as hell, but in my opinion the best designed hardware out there, although they have had a few duds lately and seem to be confused about whether to stay in the laptop business (by their minimal updates to the Mac lines) or make the iPad their professional portable computer and force their customers in that direction.
My decision was influenced even more when I moved to an iPhone 7 a few weeks ago and after using it for only a very short time, it reminded me how much I enjoyed using Apple’s product lines.
It is easier to stay in the Apple silo, especially if I am not going to use Windows, since the other operating systems do not play well with iPhones.
The next thing was to figure out which form factor to move to in the Apple lines:
- iMac – Would love to have one, but I do not have a need for it, it is huge and it is stationary – therefore not what I am looking for
- Mac – I loved my 2009 MacBook Pro and unfortunately, as much as I would love to have a MacBook or MacBook Pro the price tag was just too much outside the budget. That and Apple discontinued the MacBook Air 11″, which is the model I would have preferred. I did look at refurbished models and while those are a bit easier on the budget, it means that they either had a previous problem or they have been used by someone else. Apple refurbished I would trust, but others I would always question the how long it would last.
- iPad – Which left the iPads which have always interested me, but in all honesty, I didn’t see them as a replacement for a full-fledged laptop. Based on how I used my laptops before, I was fairly certain I wouldn’t have been happy with one as my primary daily driver before now.
- Screen shot from Apple.com
With all the improvements in the iPad Pro line this year, the 10.5 size and the release of IOS11. I decided to give the iPad line another look, even though they still didn’t support a mouse or trackpad, which have been an important part of my computing for many years.
While I was at the Apple store in early November and actually got to look at, use, talk with one of the Apple Instructors about how it could be used and play around with the iPad Pro 10.5 – I came away impressed.
Let’s face it I am also an inveterate tinkerer who loves to learn new things and I don’t always end up doing things the same way as everyone else. Yeah, I could easily go back to Window or find a reconditioned 11″ MacBook Air with the stats I want, hell I could probably do quite nicely with a Chromebook or pick up a nice pre-owned, but lightly used Mac or Windows machine and keep playing with Linux. Yes, I could do any those things without too many issues.
The reality is that
After actually playing around with and using an iPad Pro 10.5, doing all that research, I made my mind up that I wanted one.
It seemed as though Apple had taken many of my personal requirements for a computer and designed a laptop replacement iPad just for me. After that experience, I did a ton of research and the more I read or watched, the more I became certain that the iPad Pro 10.5 was the right computer for how I use a computer now.
The next part of the story is what happened next – a few surprises and a trip to Portland.