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A Writer’s Affair: I Left My MacBook for My iPad

If you haven’t noticed. I’m a writer. Surprise! The best part of being a creator, screenwriter and novelist is I can create entire worlds in my mind at any moment of the day. The worst part? I can create entire worlds in my mind at any moment of the day and not remember to write it down.

Sadly, I am a part of the ever growing “I can’t remember anything” millennial community. Creatives like me not only find themselves forgetting details of potentially great works of art but not being able to locate old scribbles during moments of inspiration. How awful do I feel when I actually make an attempt to save the brilliant brain baby and I’ve thrown the Post-It away accidently.

Blend my thirst for modern convenience, portability, simplicity and my occasional memory lost together and I found myself between a rock and a…an umm.. I can’t remember the rest.

About a year ago, I sat at my desk tapping my forehead hoping to remember this guaranteed to win an Emmy idea that I developed mentally while on a trip out of town. Being in my 30s, I should know myself by now! I randomly have moments of inspiration and have to type it out but I refuse to lug around my MacBook on vacation!

You’re thinking why don’t I use my phone. Well, it's too distracting. Not to mention, but I will anyway, the screen keyboard and other tools are limited to a 3 inches box in one of my hands. Sure, it's decent but it’s not practical.

I had to find an alternative. That’s when I did it. I cheated on my MacBook, a product I’ve been supporting since the 5th grade, with an iPad Pro. The big boy; 12.9 inch for about $1099. I felt some sense of guilt the first month, so I didn’t get rid of my Mac. I thought I would miss something. But after a solid year of making the leap, I have completely fallen in love and my gone but not forgotten Mac is now a paperweight.

Just like any process, the transition from laptop to tablet has its downfalls. Here is my list of personal pros and cons from the last 12 months while switching from old school laptop user to a hip Apple iPad-toting creative.

Size Does Matter

Everything is bigger in Texas! But I live in Los Angeles where my iPad Pro 12.9 inch screen is just perfect for me. While a larger screen makes laptops seemingly more comfortable to use, there is limited portability. Because of my love for travel and my consent commuting around LA, I look for compact options so I’m able to always travel light.

You can expect ease as the iPad weighs significantly less at 2 to 3lbs while a Macbook is around 5lbs. For my long periods of travel, I purchased the lightweight but durable Magic Keyboard Case for iPad at $299. This way I don’t have to bring the external wireless and mouse I have at home on vacation or work trips.

The biggest issue with the size is not having the ability to use external devices such as USBs without buying a pretty pricey external connector. Being a writer most of my documents are stored in Google Docs but I did dish out a good $50 for a fancy ESR 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub. It’s used primarily to connect my external monitor, microphone, and microSD cards. It’s compact and helps reduce the need for additional wires on my desk, one of my top pet peeves.

This Is One Fancy Design

Just like with size, the design allows me to easily carry my writing career around in my backpack. The simple motif hosts a touch screen interface, something that the MacBook is way behind the curve on. Touchscreens get rid of the immediate need for an external keyboard or mouse when on the move. I did purchase the wireless Apple Magic Mouse 2 for $129 and the Logitech MX Keys for Mac Bluetooth keyboard at $119 for home use.

I know, the touchscreen doesn't really solve the ease issue for a writer when having a tablet means not conveniently being able to type. As a writer, naturally we type… a lot. I turned this con into a pro when I purchased an Apple Pencil for $129. Remember those random Post-Its? Now I have the ability to short hand with ease using my pencil. I’ve not personally purchased the $45 Paperlike screen protector but I do plan to so I can get that feel of paper back that some of us crave.

The iPad presses my modern convenience button, having the ability to charge my wireless stylus by attaching it to the magnetic connector on the side of my iPad, a truly genius design choice. The fewer cords for charging the better. Again, I detest wires.

WiFi and Cellular Options

Unlike a MacBook, having an iPad as my computer meant I can get a cellular data plan from my wireless provider. I can now visit any coffee shop, commuter train or happy hour restaurant and not be forced to depend on their unsecure WiFi. Heaven!

Not too bad on pricing, about $12 a month or $144 a year. I can make calls from my iPad and always having a stable connection is convenient during Zoom meetings.

Having an iPad that is always connected to the internet and being able to share applications, more on apps later, can be just as big of a distraction as my phone. I personally turn off the notifications on my iPad for apps like iMessage and Mail. This way I still have access to them but am less likely to be distracted with them if they never pop up on my screen.

Those Annoying Applications

When it comes to performance from my iPad, I find myself smiling as I cry. Believe me it isn’t pretty. Both iPads and MacBooks run iOS applications I frequently use and the handshakes between most of those apps are seamless! I love the familiarity and the privilege of all of my devices working with one another. Being able to copy something on my phone and it instantly being available to be pasted within my iPad is an underutilized luxury.

The largest headache is application functionality. I could make a list of random Apple Store buys I’ve downloaded that didn’t work as my little heart desired but I was able to live without most of them. I sometimes just stuck with utilizing them on their intended device.

So here it comes. As a writer there is one absolutely necessary industry standard application that is required to be successful. The MacBook version works perfectly but on my iPad, it has been a nightmare; FinalDraft!

FinalDraft is a popular screenwriting software used to maintain the standards of the film, TV and theater industries. For the iPad it. Is. Awful. Really, I mean it. The FinalDraft organization should be ashamed of the lackluster mobile version of their software and should apologize for not taking action to fix it sooner.

I get it, the iPad's iOS operating system was not engineered to support the full version of the software, but the app has some really annoying hangups; most importantly the lack of a beat board feature for the iPad users.

There are a few desktop version functions that are missing. Correction: a lot are missing. No biggie if I fix it on my MacBook if you have it on your Mac and plan on keeping it, but it defeats the transition. I guess there really is no room to complain when it was only $10 in the Apple Store, a mere 5% of the $200 full version cost.

I found myself trying to make lemonade out of this lime of an app. I used the FinalDraft for a few weeks expecting to become less productive. I can honestly share that I enjoyed the experience. The lack of distracting bells and whistles forced me to focus on the actual task; writing. Don’t get me wrong, the app still has a long list of fixes to be made, but FinalDraft for iPad is functional and gets the job done.

Wait, How Much Did You Spend Exactly?

If you’ve been keeping track, this darn transition has cost me a pretty penny! But was it worth it? For my new “computer” and all of the fancy accessories, I have spent about $1995 when I include the cost of a case skin I grabbed from Etsy. Compared to the MacBook Pro 13” at $1299, 14” at $1999, and 16” coming in at a whopping $2499, I’ve come out ahead.

Being a writer in LA, an extremely technologically advanced environment, I made the choice to pull an iPad Pro into the limelight. It’s hit all of my needs as a writer and I give it a thumbs up if your back is against the wall.

Don’t forget to consider all your personal needs when it comes to battery, storage, app compatibility, and other comparable peripherals. If you’re still on the fence, consider this: with an iPad you can have a tablet and a laptop at once, but the same doesn’t pan out for the MacBook.