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Using an iPad2 with a wireless keyboard for travel?
Old 09-29-2012, 08:39 PM   #1
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Using an iPad2 with a wireless keyboard for travel?

This month I spent three weeks on the road (well, mostly in hotels) with my laptop. It's a decent Lenovo i3 ThinkPad Edge, a 14" screen, a few years old, but getting to the point where the battery life is measured in minutes rather than in hours. When I left home I was pretty sure that it weighed about 4-5 pounds. Over the course of my travels, though, it seemed to get heavier and bulkier. By the end of the trip I swear it weighed in at about 10 pounds and took over half my backpack.

The i3 is still a decent CPU (especially compared to my desktop Core2duo) so I'm not getting rid of it. When something dies in my desktop then I'm going to park the laptop at my computer desk with a wireless keyboard and a cable to my 23" monitor. No problems with the desktop yet, but it's getting up there in dog computer years.

However replacing the desktop with my laptop would be awkward for my spouse if I went on travel without her, as happens once or twice a year. She has her own laptop but I'd be on the road with the "big" hard drive of photos and other files that we're accustomed to sharing over the wireless network.

So, you see, I have to upgrade my laptop. I'm just looking out for my spouse. Yeah, that's it.

I haven't paid much attention to Apple products, but the Houston airport has a SharperImage store displaying a wireless keyboard designed to fit within an iPad case. There seem to be a few different brands in this competition:
iPad Wireless Keyboard Case @ Sharper Image
Amazon.com: Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2: Computers & Accessories

I'm also starting to see cheap iPad2s on Craigslist.

The iPad weight and battery power are probably much lower and much longer than my laptop. Even with the keyboard I bet it'll take up less space, and the case seems to hold the iPad at many different angles. The thing that was holding me back from an iPad was the keyboard problem. However the wireless keyboard that I test drove was "good enough".

I don't need a lot of horsepower or storage. My laptop has Chrome, OpenOffice, and a starter edition of Quicken. I read e-mail, browse other blogs and Facebook, and use the word processor to draft blog posts. (Drafting blog posts on WordPress is much slower than writing offline and uploading draft posts to WordPress.) I enter a few receipts into Quicken on the road and then export them to our main program when I'm home. I hardly read E-R.org when I'm traveling-- I don't make the time for it.

There are probably equivalent iPad versions of my laptop's software, but I'm not so sure about word processing. The SharperImage demo iPad only had the equivalent of NotePad. Do iPads have something like OpenOffice, a full-featured (but free) imitation of MS Word?

If I can download software onto the iPad over a wireless network (or through a USB port) then I'd buy a used iPad2 from a Craigslist seller, configure it with the appropriate word-processing software, and set up the wireless keyboard.

This seems too easy. What am I missing?
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Old 09-29-2012, 09:15 PM   #2
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I think your out of luck for free office apps on ios. There maybe somes apps in itunes to try. Best thing is probably iworks from apple but you have to buy it.

Here's alink to some reviews

What's the Best iPad Office Suite?
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
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This seems too easy. What am I missing?
The Apple "Pages" application is available for the iPad. Should be good enough for most word processing - $9.99. Is that "free" enough? Works on all iPads running iOS 5 (free upgrade to iOS 5). I do all my word processing in Pages - although mostly on my Mac where it is $19.99 and more fully featured.

Consider the MacBook Air. The 11" Air is pretty amazing. Sounds small, but it is doesn't "feel" at all like a small screen and the keyboard is great. I think if you are going to be doing a lot of typing/data entry while traveling, you want an attached keyboard. Yet you still have something small and ultra portable. Of course, it doesn't have built in cellphone capability like a 3G or 4G iPad will.

I plan to buy a MacBook Air soon for travel. So I (we) can run basic photo editing aps and store photos and video. We'll probably end up getting the 13" because it has a card slot to read a camera memory card directly. Otherwise I was sold on the smaller 11" since it would be easier to "tuck away". Spent a lot of time looking at them at the Apple Store recently when our flight was cancelled. They did an amazing job on the keyboards.

"Bummer - this phone call says our flight was cancelled. They put us on one 5 hours later."

"Hey, let's go hang out at the Apple Store!"
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:12 PM   #4
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There are iPad keyboards of all types, probably ranging in build quality. This one seems interesting:

CruxSKUNK

MacBook Air is nice but you can still get an iPad 3 and a nice keyboard for a little over half the price of the Air. But yeah if you want to run a serious photo editing application, you probably want the Air, though the iPad does have photo editing apps.

Tablets in general should be perfect for the uses Nords outlined. I can't rely only on iPad for trips because I take a lot of photos and need storage. So the last couple of trips, I took a MacBook Pro as well as iPad 3, which I used to relax after a long day. It's a bit too heavy when lying down in bed but certainly better than the laptop. But it was great sitting back on the couch.

Also used it a few times while on long train trips.
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:59 PM   #5
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I don't know if you'll find free software to do the job. Apple sells Pages and Numbers as their writing and spreadsheet apps. A version of Scriviner is supposedly in the works, and some professional writers I know are holding out for that. The best Quicken replacement I know of (for Mac or iPad) is iBank.
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:04 AM   #6
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Personal finance software may be limited to online services like Mint.
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:18 AM   #7
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When I travel, I only take the iPad with me nowadays.

For word processing, I have used Pages (not free) and Quickoffice for iPad (not free either). There are a bunch of other text editors available in the App Store, including some that are specifically targeted at writers.

I haven't found a replacement for Quicken that I like. So I access Quicken on my home computer via encrypted VNC. I installed a VNC server on my home computer and I have a VNC client app on my iPad which allows me to take control of my home computer remotely from anywhere in the world. It works very well.
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:19 AM   #8
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The Apple "Pages" application is available for the iPad. Should be good enough for most word processing - $9.99. Is that "free" enough? Works on all iPads running iOS 5 (free upgrade to iOS 5). I do all my word processing in Pages - although mostly on my Mac where it is $19.99 and more fully featured.
Close enough to free, thanks! I'll have to take a look at its features.

I don't need a word processor that's up there with an Office suite-- just something that lets me do a little bold/underline/italics, maybe even HTML for hyperlinks. iWorks may be more than I really need, but maybe Pages is about right. On travel I don't use a spreadsheet program or anything other than a word processor.

My impression of Scrivener is that it's more intended for fiction (character/plot development) than non-fiction. All I need for writing is my own sketchy outline.

My daughter's running some sort of crippled Quicken for Mac on her Macbook*, and perhaps I'd be able to get a similar product "free" with next year's TurboTax. All I really care about is a way to enter receipts for later export-->import on to my desktop. I don't do any financial finagling on travel if I can avoid it.

I'm also under the (possibly mistaken) impression that I can put away the wireless keyboard and use the iPad as just an e-reader. Nothing more complicated than ePub or PDFs, usually non-Kindle junk that I download for a quick review. If that works then I'll happily abandon our Nook.

I may be mistaken again, but I also have the impression that an iPad2 has a functional camera. (I think our dojang is using iPad2s, and if so then that's good enough for any photos that I'd take on travel.) If that's the case then I'd be able to leave our waterproof digital camera at home too.

I don't think I care one way or the other about WiFi vs 3G/4G. I don't try to do livecasting or real-time tweeting.

All of this centralization and weight shedding is making me skeptical that the iPad can really fulfill all those roles. But I so want to believe. At this point in my life I've learned that it's better to do the research, but to then start buying & trying. I can always get most of my money back through reselling on Craigslist.

*Another reason to avoid buying a Macbook Air: I'd start a hedonic arms race that she can't afford to enter. She takes great pride in her self-imposed role of the Mac genius among a family of PC primitives...
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:58 AM   #9
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Close enough to free, thanks! I'll have to take a look at its features.

I don't need a word processor that's up there with an Office suite-- just something that lets me do a little bold/underline/italics, maybe even HTML for hyperlinks. iWorks may be more than I really need, but maybe Pages is about right. On travel I don't use a spreadsheet program or anything other than a word processor.

My impression of Scrivener is that it's more intended for fiction (character/plot development) than non-fiction. All I need for writing is my own sketchy outline.

My daughter's running some sort of crippled Quicken for Mac on her Macbook*, and perhaps I'd be able to get a similar product "free" with next year's TurboTax. All I really care about is a way to enter receipts for later export-->import on to my desktop. I don't do any financial finagling on travel if I can avoid it.

I'm also under the (possibly mistaken) impression that I can put away the wireless keyboard and use the iPad as just an e-reader. Nothing more complicated than ePub or PDFs, usually non-Kindle junk that I download for a quick review. If that works then I'll happily abandon our Nook.

I may be mistaken again, but I also have the impression that an iPad2 has a functional camera. (I think our dojang is using iPad2s, and if so then that's good enough for any photos that I'd take on travel.) If that's the case then I'd be able to leave our waterproof digital camera at home too.

I don't think I care one way or the other about WiFi vs 3G/4G. I don't try to do livecasting or real-time tweeting.

All of this centralization and weight shedding is making me skeptical that the iPad can really fulfill all those roles. But I so want to believe. At this point in my life I've learned that it's better to do the research, but to then start buying & trying. I can always get most of my money back through reselling on Craigslist.
Pages for iPad is a surprisingly powerful word processor that should meet your needs. You can indeed use the iPad as an e-reader (PDFs for sure, never tried ePub). The iPad2 also has a camera (actually it has 2), though don't expect top notch picture quality (see specs here: Apple - iPad 2 - View the technical specifications for iPad 2.). I think you should believe.
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:03 AM   #10
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There may also be apps which let you scan receipts but maybe not save the data in Quicken format.

5 iPhone Apps for Creating Expense Reports On the Go

But they're part of services which upload your receipts online. Products like Evernote are great but you presume there's no privacy. For the ability to search (they OCR pictures) you presume that they index and know your content.

So I won't upload any sensitive content.
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:49 AM   #11
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There is also the "Numbers" app for iPad that is a basic spreadsheet. This should be good enough for entering recaipts and adding numbers, etc., if you want something beyond the included basic notepad app.

Not only does iPad2 have 2 cameras, but it does video as well and you can have internet video chats with other folks on Macs. My Sister in law does it all the time - chats with Mom in Amsterdam when she is visiting us in the US. Just perches the iPad on the counter or wherever and voila!
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Old 09-30-2012, 05:40 AM   #12
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Nords - Like others have stated, Pages and Numbers are apps that are similar to Word and Excel.

For storage, I use Dropbox. It sets up a drive on a mac or pc, and there is an ipad app that accesses your files. All via wifi or 3g/4g - there is no usb on an iPad.

QIF Entry for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad on the iTunes App Store is a quicken like app that creates .qif files for later uploads to pc or mac. There may be other similar quicken apps out there.

I have no experience with the wireless keyboard. I do very little typing so the built in keyboard is fine for me. I travel every couple of months and usually take my ipad and leave my work laptop at home. There are so many apps out there that turn an ipad 'almost' into a laptop.
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:14 AM   #13
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Another thing you might investigate using logmein as a remote desktop. You could access your home PC from the ipad.

LogMeIn for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:12 AM   #14
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I now travel with an iPad instead of a laptop and am happy with it. I find typing on the virtual keyboard satisfactory but I don't crank out the volumes of text that you do.

Edit: I would also look into dictation programs. I sent a few emails by voice in my iphone 5 and was blown away by how accurate the translation from voice to text was with no training.
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:12 AM   #15
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Pages (MS word equivalent) and Numbers (MS Excel equivalent) let me do all the necessary stuff on my iPad. There is also Documents To Go, which is also extremely useful for similar stuff, including PDFs.

All are cheap and (fairly) easy to use.

When I'm on a trip, I use Apple's wireless keyboard, which is small, lightweight, and very pleasant to use.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:08 AM   #16
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I only brought my iPad2 on my recent Cancun vacation, along with this keyboard: Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad - Logitech. It was the perfect combination for me.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:20 AM   #17
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Google docs

Google docs (now called drive) is a good free source. You can upload word docs there for editing as well as creating new ones. Has SS capability too. also has a desktop mode with more editing options.

Chrome is available for Free thru app store as well as many other free browsers.

There are many free apps to make copies of receipts.

The ibooks app is a nice PDF reader/organizer.

I have found the video player is better than the camera on the ipad2 but works well.

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:39 AM   #18
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FWIW we bought an iPad 2 for travel and ended up selling it and buying an 11" Macbook Air. The combined weight of the iPad, smart cover and wireless keyboard is about the same as the Air but for the (considerable) difference in price you get a "real" computer with a good keyboard, ability to watch Flash videos, etc. The iPad is a great media [I]consumption[I] device IMO but lousy for any sort of extended writing. For when we really want to travel light my wife and I both have 4th gen. iPod Touches, which do everything an iPad can do (same operating system) but fit in a shirt pocket. The new 5th generation iPod Touch which is just coming out has a 5 megapixel camera - good enough to leave your camera at home for good. I mention this because once the shedding weight and portability mania takes hold there's no limit to where it might lead (we're doing a 6 week trip to Asia this winter with iPod Touches as our travel computers).

OTOH I'd be remiss in not pointing out that for well under $400 you could buy a state-of-the-art 2.5 lb. netbook and stay in the Microsoft world you're familiar with and get most of what you're looking for.
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:13 PM   #19
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For storage, I use Dropbox. It sets up a drive on a mac or pc, and there is an ipad app that accesses your files. All via wifi or 3g/4g - there is no usb on an iPad.
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Google docs (now called drive) is a good free source. You can upload word docs there for editing as well as creating new ones. Has SS capability too. also has a desktop mode with more editing options.
Chrome is available for Free thru app store as well as many other free browsers.
Thanks for pointing out the USB issue. I was afraid of that. At least I can synch Chrome on both machines.

I should mention that up until this month I've been keeping all my important roadtrip files on a 64MB flash drive. Not 64GB but 64MB. I think I was using it on active duty so it's at least a decade old. It's a flat rectangular shape about the size of a Pez dispenser, almost as thick, and with an extra wire loop sticking out another couple inches to hold the cover. But a Denver Radio Shack was selling 8GB Cruzers for $8 (and one-third the size of the 64MB drive) so I bought a few of those and "retired" the 64MB one.

Aside from a flash drive, my preferred document backup site is Gmail. I rarely produce a document over a few hundred KB.

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Another thing you might investigate using logmein as a remote desktop. You could access your home PC from the ipad.
No need. Even when airport WiFi is free, the quality and size of the bandwidth is still crappy. (Don't get me started on Boingo's relentless marketing.) I can barely do more than check e-mail or delete blog spam. Once I'm parked in a hotel it's better, but I have no need to phone home. Everything I do is on the Web.

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Edit: I would also look into dictation programs. I sent a few emails by voice in my iphone 5 and was blown away by how accurate the translation from voice to text was with no training.
Jeff Rose on GoodFinancialCents swears by those. He dictates blog posts during his commute and has his virtual assistant transcribe them into posts. Before I got to that point, though, I'd change my lifestyle to avoid working so hard...

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When I'm on a trip, I use Apple's wireless keyboard, which is small, lightweight, and very pleasant to use.
I'm going to have to go to a military exchange or an office supply store and start beating on my choices.

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The new 5th generation iPod Touch which is just coming out has a 5 megapixel camera - good enough to leave your camera at home for good.
My personal camera challenges are (1) presbyopia friendly, especially on a longboard where reading glasses are not an option, (2) waterproof, (3) buoyant. I'm still struggling with (1) & (3). But the iPad camera will be "good enough" for travel, with the extra added advantage of actually being able to see the screen display.

Quote:
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OTOH I'd be remiss in not pointing out that for well under $400 you could buy a state-of-the-art 2.5 lb. netbook and stay in the Microsoft world you're familiar with and get most of what you're looking for.
Yeah, this might be a failed experiment, but the wireless keyboard was the crucial factor in changing my mind. I've seen a number of friends cursing their netbooks, especially on battery life. I can use a wireless keyboard when I need it, or leave it stowed when I want to just browse/read. And if the keyboard falls apart I'm not stuck with the expense of fixing or replacing the entire machine.

Now let's say that I start checking Craigslist for used iPad2s, for example this $325 16GB model: http://honolulu.craigslist.org/oah/ele/3249670064.html . My ideal seller is the early adopter who's dumping his high-end iPad2 to be able to pay off the credit-card charge for his high-end iPad3. However I'm going to get a certain number of sellers who have either been annoyed with their iPad2s or who have broken something that they hope I don't notice.

Those of you who have an iPad2, what would cause you to sell it? What pisses you off about the tablet to the point where you can't stand it anymore? What frequently breaks or wears out that I'd want to check in a Wal-Mart parking lot before I make a purchase?

How is the iPad's 3G service handled? Do I have to take over a seller's contract, or can I just use the iPad with WiFi or a network cable? The reason for this question is that the only time I carry a cell phone is when I'm on the road. It's a cheap $20 LG baseline model with pay-as-you-go Verizon service. I don't even bother to do texts, and for 340+ days/year it's shut off in my glovebox. I might not care about 3G service because I might rarely use it.
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Old 09-30-2012, 04:20 PM   #20
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How is the iPad's 3G service handled?
Actually, that's the best part. You simply buy your wireless service a month at a time. No contracts, no cancellation charges, no hassles.
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