My Writing Process — Blog Post #3
I wanted to be able to look at the PDF files of my notes at the same time I was writing in Notes on my iPad. My PC had dual monitors, so if I was using my PC I could open the PDF docs on one monitor and have a text editor on the other. But I wanted to be able to write anywhere in the house, to not be tied to my PC. The obvious solution was to setup a dual monitor iPad, but that isn’t possible. Even if I had a second iPad, how would I use two iPads at once?
Fate interceded, as it so often does. Our son had left for college recently and he had both a laptop and an iPad. He used the iPad a lot at first, but then found he preferred the laptop. After a few months, he wasn’t using the iPad at all. When I heard this, I had him lookup online the value of his iPad, and he sold it to me. Now I had two iPads, but how was I going to use them both at the same time? I looked online and I couldn’t find any way to setup two iPads as a single desktop, the way you can with dual monitors for a PC or laptop. I couldn’t find a way to use the wireless keyboard with both iPads. Both iPads had Wifi, of course, so both could connect to the Internet at the same time.
I decided to simply try to use both of them and see what happened. With the iPads propped up and the wireless keyboard in front of them, I tried to walk through how I wanted to use them. I had the wireless keyboard connected through Bluetooth to the iPad on the right, for use with the Notes app. I wanted to look at the PDF docs of my notes at the same time, so I opened those on the iPad on the left. I could use the touchscreen of the left iPad to scroll up and down in the PDF docs and type small amounts of text if needed. I could use the wireless keyboard for writing text for my book on the right iPad. Suddenly, the problem I was trying to solve simply went away. I didn’t have to setup a dual screen iPad. Because both iPads were connected to the Internet, and both had touchscreens, I could use them the way I wanted to even though they weren’t connected to each other, and the wireless keyboard only worked with one of them.
Now that I had found what worked, I had to make it easy to use. I needed a way to hold up two iPads and have the wireless keyboard in place. I had used a lap desk before and liked it so I started with that. Using the lap desk I already had, with the wireless keyboard in place, I needed a stand for each iPad. I already had one iPad stand, a Rocketfish RF-UNVSTND Advanced Series Stand for Most Touch-Screen Devices. I’m sure any iPad stand would have been fine, but this is what I already had on hand. This stand has a narrow base which was good, since I didn’t have a lot of room on my lap desk once the keyboard was in place. The iPad stand was great but it wasn’t attached to the lapdesk, so it would fall over whenever I moved around, tipping the lapdesk. I also didn’t like the lapdesk I had because it wasn’t very well padded, and the desktop itself wasn’t as large as I wanted. I looked online and found a lapdesk at Brookstone, the Brookstone eComfort Lap Desk.
I ordered a second Rocketfish iPad stand and after it arrived, I put them both on my new lapdesk, with the wireless keyboard in place, to see how it would all fit together. There was just enough room for everything, I just had to get the iPad stands attached to the lapdesk. I drilled a pair of holes in each iPad stand and using large diameter, short screws, and carefully drilling pilot holes into the surface of the lapdesk, I attached the stands to the lapdesk. It all worked out great. I was concerned that the iPads were not attached to the iPad stand, which means they could fall out if I tipped the lapdesk too much. After trying it out for a while, this wasn’t an issue. I found that even when I was moving the lapdesk from my lap to the end table next to my recliner, it was perfectly natural to keep the lapdesk relatively level as I moved it. After using this setup for many months while writing my manuscript, I have never once dropped either of the iPads.