Several days "iPad Pro only"....?

I have a trip out of town coming up. Basically I’m going to my brother’s wedding, so I don’t plan to be doing a ton of work - but I also have the sort of job (IT admin) where I can’t not be reachable by email and such.

As far as gear, I have an iPad Pro 11" with the pencil & keyboard case, an iPhone, and my 2012 Mac Mini. I also have a Linux laptop that I’m using at home for a Plex server (old laptop, 1TB HD).

I normally carry the iPad Pro in my bag as a “just in case” because it has cellular data and I can handle emergencies with it - but that’s also always been with the understanding that I could almost always be home relatively soon in case something goes very, very wrong.

This upcoming trip would be 4 or 5 days out of town, with no access to a desktop/laptop computer if I don’t bring one.

Add in that my eyesight isn’t great, so if I needed to do anything prolonged I’d want a bigger screen than the iPad Pro. And a slightly better keyboard would be nice if I were going to be doing prolonged work as well.

I’m thinking the iPad Pro is probably more than sufficient as a computational device - it definitely has all the critical apps I need. Maybe I just need an HDMI adapter to plug into a TV if necessary, and a spare keyboard?

I’ll probably haul my Linux laptop along “just in case”, as I’m traveling by car and the space won’t be an issue - but I’d like to actually give this a solid run without pulling it out of the trunk.

Anybody done something like this in the past? Any thoughts?

I dared myself to go iPad only for a one week trip. The notebook was a crutch that would get in the way of me trying to force myself to figure out how to go iPad only. It was an eye opener to see what I could live without when forced to. You might find the same experience where you’ll be forced to adapt. The experience might just change your mind about what can be done with an iPad only setup.

Besides it’s for a few days. You might be so busy that you might not even get around to the Linux machine.

The down side consequence of not having the notebook and running into a situation where I need it here is the loss of thousands of dollars of revenue - so I’m pretty certain to have it in the trunk of the car at least this time. It won’t be living in my carry bag or in the space where I’m staying though. Hopefully that’s enough distance. :slight_smile:

Did you do anything with external monitor/keyboard with your iPad?

Ahhh. Understood.

I always carry an Apple Magic Keyboard. It’s too hard to go keyboard-less and use the on screen keyboard. When my eyes get tired, it’s definitely a sign to listen to my body and do something else for a while. Then return back to work. Think of something like the pomodoro method. Work for 25 minutes and then force myself to take a 5 minute break.

My eyes aren’t quite that bad yet but having an HDMI adapter would be helpful.

I use an external(Bluetooth) keyboard with my iPad when I have it elevated in a stand for extended periods of typing, about half the time. It’s basically the same as using a external keyboard with any other computer.

As for an external monitor and HDMI adapter, I’ve done that too. Works just fine though the resolution isn’t as good on the external (in my case). Also, with an external, you have black bars on the sides as the iPad does not scale up to widescreen. So, it’s all bigger and a bit blurrier, but sure, it works. The thing to remember though is that unless you have iPadOS installed you don’t have a mouse so it’s a bit awkward if you’re reaching up to the iPad for things but using an eternal screen.

I think what it really comes down to is having the apps you need and if you’ve got those then you’re good. From that point on it’s a question of you being comfortable with an iPad as a device. I think a lot of people simply don’t use the iPad as much as other computers and when they do it feels different, limited. It’s more about the user’s past experience than what the device is capable of.

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I’m almost 100% sure I have apps to account for every use case. And I have servers I can SSH to if I need a command-line set of tools.

Although I actually forgot about the mouse thing - although the iPadOS will probably release before my trip, so that opens up that possibility. Thanks for the reminder. :slight_smile:

Consider throwing a HDMI cable and an adapter in your bag too - then you can always use a TV somewhere as a larger screen (or an actual monitor). That combined with a keyboard will definitely be more comfortable for anything big that needs fixing!


Any brand of HDMI adapter that you suggest specifically? I know Apple makes one, but are there any others you’ve had good luck with?

I haven’t owned a laptop in several years. My travel computer is an iPad, and a Magic Keyboard in Studio Neat’s Canopy case.

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As you have an 11" iPad Pro any USB C one should work fine.

It seems to me that as long as you do have that laptop in the trunk of your car, and therefore a few minutes away if you need it, you should not run into any problems.

For what it’s worth, in June my wife and I were out of town for 25 days in Africa, and all I brought was my iPad, external keyboard, and the iPhone. And it worked great.

Completely different situation from yours though — for the first time in 25 years I unplugged from work. My out of office message said I was not checking email, and would not catch up on email when I returned, please contact a colleague, or email me again if you still need to in July.

But I wanted to at least keep an eye on email and news, and manage photos. And I was able to do all that, except for stretches of several days when I had no Internet access.

It all depends on the things you need to manage.

I suggest to test out the most important things like adding and removing users and resetting their passwords. Monitor your network and make some changes to the firewall etc if needed.

I know you are probably not looking to buy a new iPad but have you considered the 12.9? This is what I use for 80-90% of my work at the office and when traveling. I do a fair amount of international travel which span 10-14 days–usually in Asia. I never take a computer–just my 12.9 iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard. This has worked adequately and with iOS 13 around the corner, I suspect it will be much better. Just a thought. Otherwise, I’d use the 11", get a Smart Keyboard and plug into a TV or take an Apple TV with you.

This is a little dated now but here is what I wrote after 30 days iPad only: Update: Results of my 30 day iPad Exclusive Use Experience

If you want to be really sure, you could try going iPad-only for a few days before you leave, from your main office.

If it turns out to be impractical, you can be back up and running on your regular setup in literally seconds. And then you’ll know and you can relax going in.

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I’m actually running the beta (yes, I know…I came in late to the beta game and it’s been good to me though), so today I went out and got a dongle from Best Buy with HDMI, USB-A, and USB-C for power. Plugged into my giant screen and my Logitech (unifying receiver) keyboard with built-in trackpad.

The mouse support is a little bit weird, but once I spent 5-10 minutes figuring it out it wasn’t bad. I can even scroll with a two-finger swipe on the Logitech’s trackpad - so that’s pretty sweet.

Still not my Mac, but definitely better than just the iPad if I’m stressed and need a bigger screen / a real keyboard. :slight_smile:

Tomorrow I might actually try to do some web development or something like that and see how it goes. Just to push the edges a little bit.


I’ve been iPad Pro only for a few months and loving it. I can do almost everything under iOS 13 and at work connect a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse (using assistivetouch) and external monitor. It is definitely slower (in multitasking) than using my MacBook Pro but I’m come to that being a good thing. It limits my focus to a single task.

Now the only time I boot up my MacBook or jump into Remote Desktop is to do development work or to use features in Word that haven’t been ported across yet (line spacing), but it is rare.