My Failed iPad vs iMac Experiment

About a year ago, knowing my iMac was going to be antiquated by the M1’s arrival, and feeling I was spending too much time at a desk, I decided to sell the iMac, and use iOS only. At first, after buying an iPad Air 4, it seemed like a perfect solution.

However, as I got further into it, several issues arose. I missed using the desktop to temporarily hold files. It proves so helpful. I also felt left out on a lot of conversations about computers. With the M1, there has been tons of time devoted to the Mac on TWIT network shows. But the biggest problem I ran into was the fact that I felt like I was always chasing a charge. Even with several iPads & and iPhone, I was forever plugging something in. I neglected to value the idea of an iMac, with no battery issues. First world problems undoubtedly, but still, it was my pain in the ass.

My lovely wife, either out of pity, or tired of hearing me complain about these issues, was kind enough to buy me a new M1 iMac for Christmas. Given the cost, it was a total shock and surprise. And now, after a week or so, I find my iPads and iPhone always seemed to be charged 3/4 of the way, without me constantly thinking about it.

And I get to feel involved in more of the TWIT podcasts!

Happy New Year everyone!


Glad to hear your wife took pity on you and bought you an iMac. Have fun with it.

I use the big screen too much to ever use just a laptop or a tablet. Even with an iPad, I still save a lot of things, until I am sitting at a real keyboard, in front of my 43“ display.

I did try going with a laptop in 2016, but realised I spent 99% of my time at my desk, so good get a more powerful device for less money, by going back to a desktop.

I moved from Windows, Android for my phone, and a Fire Tablet to a Mac mini, an iPhone and an iPad during the last 9 months.

Microsoft’s dreadful track record in 2021, in security, lying to customers and the inferiority of Windows 11, compared to Windows 10, plus the debacle around the system requirements made me give up on Windows. I put Linux on my mein PC, back at the beginning of October.

As my main use for a PC is photo editing at home, Linux was never going to be a 100% solution for me. I 2020, I was saying, after the M1 launch, that people should stick with Intel Macs and boot buy a first generation Apple Silicon device. But with the decision to move away from Windows, I did buy myself a Mini in December.

Likewise, I was getting fed up with the tracking on Android. The iPhone was always too expensive and Android more flexible… But I realised, with the last 2 generations, I’d paid the same or more for an Android phone than I would have paid for an iPhone.

Turning off as much tracking as possible meant a crippled experience on Android. So I decided to switch my wife and I to iPhone this time round. So far, it has gone relatively well, the main exception being the step backwards in usability with Audible and Kindle. On the phone or the Tablet, I can no longer buy books to listen to or read, even if I have Credits. I have to go to my Mac or use the browser, which is unsatisfactory, but other than that, it has been positive, even to me using Siri, the first time I’ve used a voice assistant since Cortana on Windows Phone. It isn’t brilliant, but it is usable.

It all started with a swap from the Fire devices to iPads early last year, because the old tablets were just too slow and didn’t have any software. (They were 2015 models, so they had done well, but for now than Kindle or light web browsing, they were useless. )


Yeah, I don’t think I could go full on tablet. During the week, I sit in front of a Windows laptop all day (plugged in via docking station to a 32" monitor, keyboard, mouse). Outside of that, I’m using a Windows desktop (KVM so same equipment). When I’m downstairs on the couch, I have a 13" laptop for when I want that experience (when I’m not playing games on my phone). The laptop replaced an old Macbook Pro that the battery died on and is running Linux.

Just being the type of user I am, I can’t go full blown tablet.


Thanks for the reply with your experiences. It’s always interesting to understand how people arrive at the ways they use their machines, and what machines prove useful to them.

I primarily use a Macbook Pro 16-inch (Intel) docked to a 24" Dell Monitor for my phone, I use an Iphone. I’m the exception when it comes to a tablet because I rarely use it so my wife and I share a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3…Wife is an android lover. I also have a 2015 Model HP Laptop that I run Windows 10 on and works just fine. I only really use it to play media (DVD or Picture slideshow) when I’m working in the office.

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It’s interesting…I have an Intel MBAir13 and M1 MBPro13 (and a 15” Intel MBPro and 11” Intel MBAir as backups) - I find myself using my 11” iPad Pro w/Magic Keyboard more than any of the Macs these days…no conscious thought, it just kinda happens! Sync between my iPhone 12Pro and iPad Pro are very convenient and all of the apps are great! MS Office, Apple iWork, Safari, Firefox, Apple Mail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Affinity Photo, iMovie, Apple iCal etc

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It’s the browser that stops me from moving over to just a tablet and phone. I made the mistake of just taking my tablet on our last US trip, and it was very frustrating trying to fill out all the various forms you have to complete now on airline/govt websites. I gave up and borrowed a PC in the end.

I’ve never used the latest Safari on an iPad though - isn’t that supposed to be nearly desktop-class?

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It is the form factor that stops me. The phone and tablet screens are too small for “serious” work. Likewise, the laptop is too small for me. I need space.

I’ve used multiple monitors since 2002 and later switched to a 34" Ultra-Wide and now a 43" 4K monitor, which lets me see lots of things on the screen. I spend too much time working on multiple windows, with reference material in one window and my work in another, documentation on one side, the application on the other etc. Drop that down from 43" or 34" or dual 24" to a 14" or a 10" display, or even a 6" smartphone display, that is a lot of real-estate you are giving up.

The smartphone is great, for looking things up on the move, but I couldn’t work on one. The iPad is great for reading articles and writing short replies on the sofa. The laptop is fine for working in a computer room or for a couple of days, when visiting a remote site. But I want my ergonomic keyboard, my ergonomic mouse and my big, easy to read screen and a comfortable chair for doing “real” work.

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Safari on iPad is definitely a step up from the typical mobile browser. I’m not expert enough to tell you where all of the gaps are, but I was happy to see for example that all of the G Suite and Outlook stuff seemed to work as well as they did on my laptop browser. I run into occasional things that don’t work, like my kid’s IXL learning site doesn’t support iPad Safari (it wants you to use the iOS app). And between LastPass and Keychain I’ve had pretty good luck filling forms, though I do have a Logitech Combi Touch keyboard/trackpad that I use when doing focused work on the iPad. The keyboard pulls off just like a Surface, so I’m left with just the kickstand case (also like a Surface) when I want to use pure tablet mode. The iPad Pro 11 has effectively replaced my Surface for all but a few things.

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I just ordered a USB-C to HDMI cable so I can use my iPad with an external display for one specific use case-- editing video. Lumafusion will put your video up on the display while your controls are on the iPad. This is one of only a handful of apps that will do more than just mirror your iPad on an external display. My hope is that in the next year or so we’ll see expanded support for external displays.

I’m enjoying the discussion that developed here. When I think further about it, I feel like when I’m trying to do tasks on the iPad, there always seems to be an extra step, an extra click. Truly, just the way I can park something on the desktop, then drag it into what I’m doing, is something I missed with the iPad.

Funny how quickly one develops muscle memory. Since using the iMac again, I find myself occasionally reaching up to use the nonexistent touchscreen…

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Wonder if there’s a technical reason why Apple/Google/MS won’t port a full desktop browser to a tablet and leave mobile sites for phones? Mine seems powerful enough, has a decent amount of RAM etc.

Well I think it is a full browser, but it may not have the desktop experience because most tablets and phones are missing a mouse and keyboard, which are required for some desktop features like hovering over links (for example.) I believe, in all mobile browsers, there is a feature to “request the desktop version” of the site, if you need to for some reason.

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Worked it out - seems with Samsung DeX enabled their browser stays in mobile site mode irrespective of the setting. Also various websites seem to reject logins and stuff. Now I know, I’m using the tablet for trips again.