Life with One Device

Life with one device

the minimalist tech experiment

I'm a big fan of challenging normal assumptions and lifestyles. Sometimes this involves wacky minimalist experiments that I create for myself to see just how low I can go.

Recently, I went one year doing such an experiment: owning only one item of technology. An iPad mini. 


After a previous no-phone experiment, I concluded two things. One: I didn’t particularly enjoy the phone. (I always felt really creeped out essentially being on-call to anyone who wants to talk to you at the exact second they want to talk to you.) And, Two: that I could do everything on a pad that I could do on a phone, without a contract or a bill.

50 things an iPad can do

How can you survive with only one device? Easy. Use wifi. And get a data sim card so you can access cellular data when you don't have wifi access. You can call and text via FaceTime, Facebook, Skype and lots more apps will give you a phone number you can use for texting, calling and voicemail. Easy breezy.


Then, it was just me and my pad. It came everywhere with me. I dropped it, carried it in pouring rain, wind, snow, hail, took it to mountains, rivers, and oceans... basically all dangerous places. But it was fearless, and it mostly survived them all. 


And, I figured out that it really can completely sustain a person. Or, more specifically, me. Here's how.

50 tasks an iPad can do

  1. calls
  2. texts
  3. iMessages
  4. emails
  5. Skype
  6. Facetime
  7. internet browser
  8. address book
  9. alarm clock
  10. calendar
  11. maps
  12. written note taker
  13. spoken note taker
  14. reminders
  15. weather forecaster 
  16. camera
  17. photo editor 
  18. photo storage
  19. social media manager
  20. spreadsheets
  21. document scanner
  22. document creater
  23. document storage
  24. document sharer
  25. software manager
  26. food finder
  27. bar finder
  28. hotel finder
  29. airfare finder
  30. activity finder
  31. tour finder
  32. car finder
  33. ride finder
  34. date finder
  35. language translator 
  36. budget manager
  37. banking manager
  38. calculator
  39. tip percentage calculator
  40. currency converter
  41. tv show watcher
  42. movie watcher
  43. book reader
  44. magazine reader
  45. music listener
  46. podcast listener
  47. game player
  48. youtube video player
  49. website creator/editor
  50. art creator

the conclusion

the pros

It's so easy and simple to have only one thing. You don't feel overwhelmed by multiple devices. Or multiple cables and connectors. Or syncing multiple things. Or the burden of owning lots of expensive fragile things. It causes you to be aware of the apps and media you collect. It's pretty much a minimalist's dream and you can travel ultra-light. I absolutely loved that. And miss it.

the cons

Some websites can't be fully accessed/edited on a mobile device. It's a bit heavier/bulkier to carry than a phone (can't fit in your jeans pocket but maybe in your jacket pocket or in a small messenger bag). And lastly, if something happens to your one thing, you're a bit screwed. True story: I dropped mine on the ground one day (in a so-called drop-proof case), it shattered into a million bits, and then I had to hunt down a store to get a new one, without a map.) It wasn't the funnest day ever.

the takeaway

Overall, it was not at all as hard as I thought, it was actually super easy and fun, and I absolutely loved not being tethered to a phone. 

try the experiment

Love this idea? Of course you do. It's awesome! So...

1. Get an iPad.

2. Get these apps for to make your life easier.

3. Get a global data SIM card. Check out knowroamingiroam, keepgo, and forbesfone.