Form factor

Over the past few weeks, I have varied up my computing habits a bit.  For a laptop, I have been using a Pixelbook, and I have also been spending more timing using an iPad Pro for work (vs my default of using a Mac laptop for everything).

What I have discovered is that the form factor of the device I’m using matters a lot in terms of what kinds of work it supports best.  Both devices have exactly the same apps, but the experience on each couldn’t be more different.

For example, the iPad (the 10.5″ Pro model in particular) is great for long-form reading: I use Pocket to gather articles (from wherever I am – phone, tablet or computer) and when I want to sit down and read, I do it on the iPad.  And beyond reading, email on the iPad is possible, but forces you to write shorter responses.  So it’s both good for deep reading and also good for quick email processing.  That combination has been working great for me.  

I have been trying to avoid reading — especially at home, when I am around my family — on my phone.  There is something about the posture you take when you read on a phone that is both uncomfortable and anti-social.  Hunched over, hands up, squinting down.   By contrast, reading on the iPad feels more like reading a book or a newspaper – open, relaxed.  Not only is the reading area a better size, but it feels more like a “public” device, in the sense that by reading it you aren’t lost in the private world of your phone.

The Pixelbook (google’s new chromebook) is great in a different way.  What is nice about the Pixelbook is how simple login and setup are (especially if you are a heavy google apps / google chrome user).   You just sign in, load up some web apps (and many enterprise desktop apps such as Slack and Zoom work just as well as Chrome apps) and you’re good.  It feels very lightweight and efficient. Low overhead, lean and mean.  When I log into the Pixelbook I feel ready to go.   (There is also an added security benefit to using a Chromebook for work – sign-in can be protected by 2FA).

It just goes to show that the form factor / design / packaging of a system (device, app, etc) really matter so much in terms of how it can / should / will be used.  Maybe this is obvious, but it has really struck me lately.

   

  • jason wright

    is the iPad Pro a superior reading experience (type contrast, resolution et.c.) when compared to a Kindle, that’s assuming you have or have had a K?

    do you use the iPad attachable keyboard for emails, or the virtual keyboard? for laptop mode i need a laptop. Flip stands and folding triangles don’t work for me (planes, trains, airports,…et.c.

    I’m waiting for the Pixelbook 2 to show up. Not long to go. I may return to the Chromebook experience, which i liked, and will probably like much more with Android apps and containers for a secure Linux distribution.

    Phones and long form reading definitely do not go together. The only issue is the weight of the tablet in the hand.

    i’m writing this from a Macbook 12″. i like it. light, thin, convenient. the battery could be a little more powerful, but one can’t have it all.

    • the macbook 12 is an amazing computer — really hard to beat

      what I had been doing is carrying BOTH an iPad Pro 10.5″ and a Macbook 12. That is a lot. For the iPad, I was using it raw, no attachments – so only typing on the native keyboard, short messages

      the pixelbook is heavier than the macbook 12, but the money feature is the flip-around touch screen — so you can essentially turn it into “tablet mode”, which gets you the nice iPad-style reading experience (I actually didn’t even notice that when I wrote this).

      my biggest beef with the pixelbook is the bad bluetooth support — if you use a laptop connected to a wireless keyboard/trackpad, as I do, then the pixelbook is a non-starter

      • jason wright

        Perhaps the Pixelbook 2 will have better bluetooth support.
        A flip-around screen might be a nice thing to have.
        Thanks.

        • I hope it does – but not super confident about that

          Yes the flip screen is actually great and it makes it a great travel laptop because you can use it in lean-in laptop mode or lean-back tablet mode

          https://nickgrossman.is
          @nickgrossman

          • jason wright

            why do you prefer the iPad Pro over a Kindle for long form reading?

          • when I say long form, I mean long articles and papers, not necessarily books
            actually not books at all. for books I use paper books