HomeLab Stage LXV: iPad Only Experiment

I am using Apple MacBooks since several years when working at customer sites or when traveling.

Last year I decided to go a completely different way. I bought the 12.9“ Apple iPad Pro with the M1 chip and 1TB storage and sold all my MacBooks. At my HomeOffice it is a nice addition to my Workstation.

I love the combination of „normal“ work, together with the pencil option. I am doing a lot of scribbling and drawing, especially when teaching VMware classes. My favorite topic is always the design part.

When doing remote training courses, I am working on my „Ultimate Workstation“, with all the mics and cameras connected. I am using the app Reflector 4 (Windows) for mirroring the iPad screen to my workstation. Within Zoom or Teams, it is easy to show drawings to the students.

Airplay Server for Windows

I invested into the Kensington Studio Dock for iPad 12.9“ version and I really love it. The iPad is fixed on the dock and connected to LAN, Sound, External Display (60“ wall-mounted TV) and Apples Smart Keyboard and Magic Trackpad. And it offers a wireless charging option for my Airpods Pro and for the iPhone.

But what when traveling a long time or working at customer locations?

I had the smaller iPad Pro 11“ for several years with the original Smart Keyboard, but I was always carrying a MacBook and an iPad with me.

I wanted a MacBook experience on an iPad…

I tried different keyboard / trackpad combinations, but none of them really convinced me.

The original Apple Keyboard with trackpad is a great device, but I don’t like the „flying“ iPad screen. Especially when typing on your legs. And the trackpad is a little bit too small for me. A big plus is the smart connector, no need for extra charging the keyboard itself.

The next option which I tried was the Brydge Max + for iPad Pro 12.9. It is connected via bluetooth to the iPad, I never had a problem with that. It does not connect via the smart connector, so you have to charge it once a month. The keyboard itself is only available in QWERTY layout. Why no longer using it? The weight! This thing is very heavy and the combo is really thick and weight more than a MacBook Pro 16“.

What about external devices and an iPad Pro?

I was really happy with the Dell DA300 adapter. Small, all connections you want including ethernet and yes it worked perfectly with the iPad…. except for example presenting using an external projector (HDMI) and charging at the same time….because it does not support power passthrough.

Dell DA300, without USB-C charging

Dell heard the customer feedback and designed a new model: The DA310. With that gadget, it is possible to use all the external devices and charge the iPad at the same time. The only downside is, that you need a USB-C charger with minimum 40W…

Dell DA310, supports USB-C passthrough charging

How does my actual setup look like?

I have tried a new combo: Doqo SmartDock 12.9:

This beauty offers a MacBook Air design, a great keyboard and a big trackpad, which you can turn off when typing large texts. It does not connect via bluetooth or smart connector. It uses USB-C! Yes! Hard-Wired USB-C connection. It comes with a lot of different connectors for external devices (USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, Headphone jack, SD-Card slot and micro SD. For me, it is the perfect solution. I don’t need to carry the Dell adapter and it protects my iPad as well as the Apple pencil. I found a pre-production release with QWERTZ layout on ebay. My model holds the pencil on top, where it gets charged. The production version holds the pencil magnetically on the left side of the case.

My device is running the iPadOS 16.1 public beta and I am really impressed. I love the Stage Manager and the external display support!

I am not using the original charger, I prefer the GAN based model from Baseus together with there 100W powerbank. A pretty powerful combination. I really enjoying USB-C and lightning cables which can show the charging performance.

This was just a quick special HomeLab project topic. Stay tuned for the next big thing….. New Monster Cluster…..