Scott Sumner appears to be having trouble with his iPad. This isn’t his first posted complaint about it; and while they likely are not for everyone, I have some helpful hints for those who might want to try it.

I have a collection of devices I have to use for one purpose or another: a laptop and a smartphone that belong to my employer that I use for work-related activities; and an iPad mini and iPhone that I use for my own personal needs. Collectively, that’s a lot of technology to lug around and to use in the different manners at different times of the day, and it results a certain amount of insanity just to accomplish simple tasks if they are used as individual devices.

Here’s how I have it all arranged so that all this technology does not clutter up my life with complexity, and actually does simplify things:

My iPad mini is used for nearly all of my personal computing needs (or was until I got a new desktop), and I accomplished it by getting a compact Bluetooth keyboard that can switch between various devices: the iPad mini, the iPhone, the work Android phone and my work laptop; and I have a Word-compatible word processor, Pages, on the iPad and iPhone. I also downloaded a free app that turns my iPad into a phone by hooking into Google Voice. It has its own phone number that I can use as an umbrella over all of the other phone numbers I have so they all ring at once when someone calls me. Whichever device I happen to have on me at the time doesn’t really matter – I will never miss a phone call. I have no need for a landline telephone to add to the complexity either; so I save money and have everything I need for both work and play. I’ve considered posting a Google Voice widget on my blog here, so readers can ring me up without having my phone number; but I am not positive that I really want to deal with the possible drawbacks of doing so.  Perhaps I will do that someday, but not today.

I’ve been able to reduce my load going from place to place to just the iPhone, the work laptop and my keyboard. There’s not much I can do about the work laptop because it has all of the PC-only apps I need to do work from home if needed.

The only problem I have with the iPad mini is it is Wi-Fi only and is limiting if I need to access something on the internet and there is no hot-spot around. It also cannot process Adobe Flash or Shockwave; and so there are many videos embedded in websites that it cannot play. Otherwise, it is almost a perfect replacement for a PC if all that is needed is something for everyday tasks, like word processing, email, web surfing, watching videos, etc… I do not recommend it if lots of computing power is needed for gaming or image processing… or directory engineering, like I do as an occupation.

Two other apps I have on my iPad and iPhone that I couldn’t live without are WordPress and Kindle. Despite its limitations, and the annoying habit the WordPress mobile app developers have of breaking the ability to comment on other blogs, the WordPress app works well enough to keep up with the blogs I follow and to post here. And the Kindle app allows me to reduce the clutter in my house by storing most of the new books I acquire and I can read them wherever I happen to be. I read at night before going to sleep and I no longer end up with a pile of books next to the bed, or anywhere else for that matter.

The bottom line is, if you want an iPad to reduce your load and you still want all the flexibility of use from a laptop, get the compact Bluetooth keyboard to go with it at a minimum. If you have an iPad mini, you will probably also want a stylus to help with web browsing. You can also get the same functionality out of just an iPhone and the same keyboard and stylus; but for me, the screen on it is just too small to use all of the time for everything.

PS: Only two drawbacks prevent me from using the iPad mini as a single device to carry everywhere are: Wi-Fi only and the fact that it cannot run my employer’s custom apps.