Coffee Break- Blogging on the iPad with a Keyboard


I didn’t set out to work when I headed out to the local Starbucks (s sbux). I wanted to sit in the big comfy chair and read for a while. I arrived at the store only to find all of the comfy chairs occupied and the Starbucks fairly hopping. I got my drink and sat down at one of those tiny round tables, the ones that fit a couple of drinks and not much else. Little did I know that I would soon be working away.

I pulled out the iPad I had thrown in the bag and started to log into the Wi-Fi, but thought I’d check to see if the Sprint 4G network I recently singed up for was active in this location. I hit the button on the Sprint (s s) Overdrive and waited a couple of minutes for it to power up. Boot speed is not one of its strengths.

Lo and behold the 4G was not only active but with nearly full signal strength. This meant my bandwidth should be pretty darn good and it was. I was getting over 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up in no time.

This healthy bandwidth had me surfing the web and doing all sorts of things without missing a beat on the iPad. I decided to share this information and pulled out the Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard that I have tested with the iPad but haven’t used much. I was going to town with the keyboard and the iPad, all on the 4G network shared by the Overdrive modem. True mobile tech, working together seamlessly. I haven’t had so much fun since the old Sony U days.

I used the WordPress app for the iPad to create this post. It works great and handles everything except uploading images for the post. That’s a shame and they need to add this, as it means I could only post it as a draft and then add the image at home for publishing. The iPhone version of the app has this ability, since it has a camera, but the iPad needs it too. Actually, the app has this ability but it keeps crashing on me when I try it.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t recommend everyone go out and get all of this equipment. But if you already have it like I do, it sure works great. I realize that many would say that I could easily have done this on a netbook, but I’d say you were wrong about that. I didn’t have a netbook with me, and this was much more enjoyable. Fun times when Mobile Tech Manor hits the road.

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Gary LaPointe

I picked up the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. It’s a little large to carry around, but unlike a laptop, I’m not worried about crushing it in my bag or backpack.

And since the keyboard is identical to my laptop, it’s pretty easy to get used to :)

I’d like to try one of the collapsable ones. One that is small enough that I wouldn’t think “do I need it?”, it’d just be with me…

Benjamin Ing

I was going to make the same comment about Starbucks. I have a Rewards Account and have used the free 2 hours of WiFi I keep thinking I need one of those 4G devices or to jailbreak my iPhone, but I always seem to find WiFi when I need it, and just cache my daily reading with an RSS Reader and website crawler.

I have an original Think Outside Folding Stowaway that I used to use with my HP 4700, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to power up anymore. Trying to decide if I should buy Apple BT kybd or wait to see if someone resurrects the Stowaway once again.

Meanwhile, I have been checking out the Tucano Finatex as a carrying case.


Why BYOWifi, when you can use Starbuck’s own? You only need one of their gift cards and a minimum balance of one cent.


I am using a similar setup but with a Stowaway that has only three rows of keys and folds in half. I got it because I thought I could balance it better on my lap than the one that folds into four parts. Increasingly, though, I use the iPad onscreen keyboard unless there is a table handy. As a result, I would probably get the (slightly) bulkier Stowaway keyboard that you describe if I had to do it again.


I am loving the versatility of the iPad and the $69 Apple wireless keyboard. It is small but big enough, I think it weighs 4 ounces and pops easily into my bag. It will be great on an airplane with the iPad laying flat to the right of the keyboard, perhaps propped up a bit and when the jerk in front of me goes into full recline my Mac Air won’t get pummeled. This is definitely content consumption but I could live a short while using this as my content creation device.

And I am right behind james on the Overdrive. He put me over the line. Goodbye Verizon!


This is a great setup.
Lightweight Gear. Super Fast 4Mbps Network. Great Touch UI to get things done QUICKLY, Super long battery life !
What more do you need ?, i just don’t see it getting much better than this.

BTW, using a netbook would be slower, heavier, bulkier, poor windows UI, shorter battery life,etc…in other words just not as good of a user experience imo. Looks like Apple done really good with this tablet.


you really think so. Opening up the ipad case. propping it up on something. Unfolding and turning on the keyboard. Waiting for them to pair. Loading the app etc… etc…

It’s a cool solution and a fun one. But it’s just as quick to wake a netbook (or in my case P1620) from sleep and load live writer and start blogging. And I’ll have a real file system so if I do want to create something more complex I won’t have to email it to my self. And lets not forget I now have three devices to carry and three devices that need to be charged. That means three power adaptors on a desk or in a bag.

I think Apple has done really good here, but it’s a solution not the ONLY solution. I see no reason why people can’t just accept that there are other different devices that are just as good as the ipad in their own way. Not necessarily better, but just as good.


Mike Cane

You are falling down on the job, Kendrick! You should have tweeted this to me yesterday to rub it in my face instead of me tripping over it like this. You might need some remedial Tech Fiend classes now.


I use my iPad with the Verizon MiFi and the WordPress app to update blog posts as well. A bluetooth Apple keyboard tags along when going to bigger meetings. For the WordPress app on the iPad, I do upload images via app with it’s built in feature. Sadly, it only placed pictures at the end of the article. And, timing content to post later means your iPad has to have the WP app running at that time… not sure why they don’t just upload and let the site handle the time delay like many desktop options do.


How long until you do a “Day in the Life” post about the iPad? I always love reading those.


Was curious what settings you use to type quickly on the iPad. For example I find I type faster without the double space = a period setting. Also I find auto fill tends to slow my typing down. Any thoughts?


Love it! Real world use at “FiveBucks”. You reminded me that I can resurrect my Stowaway for iPad use (once I get mine that is). The surprising thing to me is the Overdrive…really – a couple of minutes to get rolling?? Much greater boot/connect time than the Mifi?

Steve Rubel

I did the exact same thing today here in NY, but without the keyboard. I used the virtual keyboard in the Apple Case and propped up on a bag. Was great to go to town.

James, have you tried the Apple Keyboard Dock for the iPad? I just picked one up one today along with a couple of the 10W adaptors. It really positions the iPad more ergonomically than the standard dock in combo with a Bluetooth kb and is better on battery too. Downside – it’s a bit bulky to take out and about.

Oh and please more posts like these. Interested in the ergonomics of all this gear as well.

James Kendrick

Steve, I don’t own either dock as I don’t intend to use the iPad at my desk. That’s why I like the Apple Case, it works well enough for my needs when I want to prop it up. I would never want to carry a dock with me when running around.

I like the iPad as it fits in my little Fossil field bag, something most netbooks won’t do. That’s why the iPad came with me and a netbook didn’t. That and the fact I had no intention of writing much.

The important point is the iPad’s onscreen keyboard is sufficient for content creation, something many deny. That is simply not true. I could have done this blogging without the external keyboard but I wanted to make sure it worked well. It did.


Further evidence that the “iPad is just for consumption, not creation” whiners have no idea what they are talking about.

(and yes, officially jealous now of your 4G mobile wifi solution)


My, you’re a defensive little puppy! I like rading this sort of “real world usage” article but be honest, this could all be done on a netbook. Would I go anywhere where I would take an iPad and not a netbook? Can’t think of one.


Of course it could be done on a netbook; the point is that it can also be done with ease on an iPad, which removes an argument against the iPad for those considering purchasing one or the other.


does the ipad works with the older iGo stowaway keyboard as well? the one that does not have the number keys


Yes, iPad does. I have iGo Stowaway keyboard….perfectly. Every time I go to the Starbuck, I use it.


that’s great! if only the iphone works with these iGo keyboards as well…hmm


It wasn’t that long ago you showed a same photo only with the viliv S5 in the picture. How would you rate that productivity experience versus the iPad?


I’m curious about this because it’s sort of alluded to, but what do you think is the “sweet spot” for screen size on a mobile device like this (be it the ipad, some convertible slate or a regular netbook)?

James Kendrick

I believe a 9 or 10-inch screen is the sweet spot for tablets. Especially those with a good onscreen keyboard like the iPad. Smaller screens will work OK, but this is my personal sweet spot.


Finally… For a while I thought you discontinued these articles. I love seeing technology in action and in the wild. Good thing you happened to have this kit on you.

Have a good one peeps!



I got that exact keyboard off the JK Amazon store (dating myself there) and I have to say: it doesn’t fit in my “shirt pocket”. Are you wearing some sort of “Scott e Shirt”? :-)

I got my Joule iPad stand yesterday and so far I’m (barely) dragging it around in my Scott e Vest’s sun glasses pocket. It is more adjustable than the Apple case and it’s little rubber feet grip the Starbuck’s table very well.

James Kendrick

Mine fits in a sport shirt pocket. Barely, but it fits. I wouldn’t want to carry a stand around. I like the iPad in the case and the stand capability is a plus.


James do you have your iPad leaning on something? I don’t think the Apple case can tilt at that angle or maybe just looks that way ink the picture.


Hey James you could of saved the draft as you did and use LogMeIn to publish your blog right from Starbucks. I use GoodReader app for the iPad to transfer files up to my DropBox or Google account. This works great because in this case you add your picture you took with the LogMeIn to post then blog with picture with WordPress. ;)


Why not just use the iPad keyboard? I’m finding that I am getting reallly good speeds with it in landscape. I’ve thought about pulling out my old bt keyboard, but the reality is that it isn’t going to improve my typing by that much.

Also, I’m finding that the mobile hotspot app on my Pre is working wonders with the iPad. I used it on a trip this week and it was flawless,

You could have accomplished the same with two less gadgets (not sure if less gadgets is a good or bad thing lol).

James Kendrick

I had the other keyboard with me so I just HAD to use it. :) My Pre is on Sprint so no mobile hotspot option. Now that upcoming Sprint EVO…

David Fell

I wish I were having as positive an experience with my blog, which runs on Movable Type. Can’t scroll in text entry fields. A real keyboard helps, because of the arrow keys, but there’s also a box in which one selects categories via checkmarks, and I haven’t found a way to scroll in that. Movable Type says version 5.1 will support WebKit, which might solve the problem.


I’m finding using tap and hold on the text and then when the magnifying glass comes up you can scroll in the box. Not the best but it works.


Not sure it will work for you, but try two finger scroll. It works for me in most of text areas where one finger scroll doesn’t work.

Mark H

I wonder if a convertable netbook or a design like the HP TC1100 is the way to go rather than 2 bits of kit when you want to do some content creation. I don’t know if the current crop of convertable netbooks are thin and light enough. You can’t really use the 2 bit setup on your lap, though most of the time you will have access to a table.

James Kendrick

I could easily have done this on the iPad alone, sans keyboard. I have done so just fine. The external keyboard is NOT needed to create content on the iPad. It’s just nice you can use one if desired.

This keyboard fits in my shirt pocket when closed. It’s not any trouble to bring along if I wish. I would not have brought a Netbook with me here as I had no intention of writing. I have 2 convertible net books here and didn’t bring either. This was just easier.

This comment was typed on the iPad onscreen keyboard, BTW.


Big difference between a 1.5 lbs iPad and 3.0 1bs convertible. It would weigh on you like a ton-o-bricks after awhile.

sure wish nokia would do a non-phone tablet with maemo/meego. This sounds like a scaled up (cpu, screensize) N800 to me ;)

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