iPad vs. Laptops Part 2: External Keyboards or Not?

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Ah, the iPad and external keyboard controversy.

This has been brewing since the iPad was launched. In one corner we have purists who see the iPad as a tablet and they like the simple, clean look with no additives. In the other corner, we have the I-want-my-iPad-to-be-a-laptop crowd, who purchase an external keyboard case the same day they buy their iPad.

As you might have guessed it, I belong to the first group. Here I sit in a Starbucks writing this on my iPad using iA Writer (a bare-bones writing app) enjoying an oatmeal cookie while I wait for my hotter-than-lava peppermint tea to cool. Doing all of this with no keyboard. I have come to love the onscreen keyboard. Sure, I only type with two fingers again (I am a quick typist on a real keyboard using all ten fingers), but I am pretty quick.

As with everything there is a trade off, I trade the speed of a real keyboard for the size and weight of my iPad. I don't even carry a man-purse for it, it is just me and my iPad. I used to have an iPad bag that had all sorts of paraphernalia in it, but I never used any of it. And I have two external keyboards I thought I would use, but don't, sitting on a shelf back in my office. Neither of my kids will use keyboard with their iPads.

The title of this post is iPad vs. laptops, not “how to turn your iPad into a laptop.” So stop trying to do it. Give the onscreen keyboard a good try (like two months), put away your man-purse and go lean and mean -- just you and your iPad. A little scary, I know, but I do it all the time. The first time I flew to a convention to speak with just my iPad freaked me out, but everything went fine. Lean and mean.

-Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School