Can an iPad Replace a Laptop? (2011 edition)

It’s easy to forget now, but when the first iPad was announced in early 2010, there was much uncertaintly surrounding Apple’s new product. One of the big questions was whether it served as a laptop replacement.

I have an iPhone, and I have a laptop – why do I need something in between?

Now that we’ve all had well over a year with the iPad (and a growing pool of other tablets), it’s time to revisit this. Has anything changed?

One thing we know is that it didn’t take long for consumers to warm up to the idea of owning a tablet. Apple sold 14.8 million of them in 2010, and is targeting 40 million iPads sold in 2011. Customers have obviously found uses.

Casual Use

We know that tablets are great for casual computing tasks. Simple functions that are mildly enjoyable on a notebook or PC become comfortable and personal on a tablet.

Scanning news feeds, browsing the web, emailing, reading an eBook, connecting on Facebook, tweeting… for these casual tasks, there’s nothing quite like kicking back on the couch with iPad in hand.

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image: eyexd.com

The iPad is also quickly becoming a viable gaming console. While not everyone likes controlling a console-style game with HUD touchscreen controls, people are getting used to it. Standout titles like Infinity Blade, 9mm (and the other ten billion Gameloft console clones), and Dead Space are showing that the iPad can do a lot more than play casual classics like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies.

So at this point, what reasons do you have to own a laptop in addition to (or instead of) a tablet?

When the iPad launched, the saying went that “it’s for content consumption,” and that PC’s and notebooks were for “content creation.” As many strides as the iPad has made, our examination found that the future hasn’t arrived as quickly as some thought it would.

Professional Use

While simple content creation is becoming increasingly possible on the iPad, the same can’t be said for advanced creation.

Sure, you hear the occasional story of an artist creating their latest track entirely on an iPad. Music videos have been shot on iPhones and edited on iPads. But those are just headline bait – and far from the norm at this point.

Writers

For writers, a tablet simply will not do.

Sure, you can use a bluetooth keyboard with the iPad to type more easily, but where are you typing? If you can afford to do all of your writing in the iWork Pages app, then perhaps the iPad could work. But once you add a second accessory to the mix, wouldn’t a laptop be easier?

For bloggers (or other writers who use a web-based portal for submitting work), sites like WordPress aren’t optimized when opened on a tablet. A great iOS app called Blogsy duplicates much of the full WordPress functionality, but it’s still no substitute for direct input on the full website. The iPad, at this point, is nothing more than a novel backup tool for most pro writers.

In the next five "Sex & the City" sequels, it isn't likely Carrie Bradshaw will be switching to an iPad. (image: tgdaily.com)

Graphic Artists/Designers

When it comes to professional-level photo editing, a high-end notebook is a Harvard graduate, and the iPad is a first-grader. A touch-screen interface has the potential to (one day) deliver advanced photo editing and graphic design with a level of personal connection that desktops and laptops can’t achieve. But that’s still far off in the future.

Probably the most advanced photo-tweaking app on iOS, Photoforge 2, doesn’t even remotely hold a candle to Photoshop Elements (which itself is a watered-down consumer version of professional Photoshop). While the app adds support for “layers,” this is a far cry from the intuitive handling of layers that Photoshop users are accustomed to. Being able to select portions of a photo is essential when dealing with layers, and this app makes it awkward and cumbersome. It’s a promising start, but not anything any professional (in his right mind) would even consider using.

Filmmakers/Video Editors

The iPad fares much better for video editing than it does for photo editing, as the excellent iOS port of iMovie is more intuitive than most PC video editing programs. But when you’re talking about advanced editing, there’s still no replacement for a good laptop (particularly a MacBook with Final Cut Pro 7 installed).

(image: magictorch.com)

Aside from a watered-down feature set, probably the biggest obstacle to pro video editing on the iPad is the importing of video content. If any professional tried to take video with the iPad 2′s camera, he should be sent to Bellevue. Sure, you can sync media via a camera connection kit, but not all cameras are compatible.

Musicians/Sound Engineers

Garage Band for iPad is a great addition, but – again – it’s miles away from replacing expensive professional-level apps like Pro Tools, Cubease, or Apple’s Logic Studio. It’s arguable whether it can replace Garage Band on a MacBook for casual users, but it doesn’t come close to working for more high-end musical needs.

Other Professionals

If you remove niche creative professionals from the equation, the areas that you’re left with are where the iPad is rapidly making a splash. Many pros can, believe it or not, possibly find a tablet to be more advantageous than a laptop.

Office employees who need to roam from department-to-department while performing various tasks could find a tablet to fit the bill. This area has the potential to really blow up in the next few years as mid-grade tablet prices come down, and specific software for these needs becomes more prevalent.

Medical professionals could also find tablets to be a big plus. Nurses can use an iPad to check in a patient and log preliminary tests. Doctors could check patient records and examine X-rays using slates.

(base image: hughlaurie.de)

Retail or customer service agents, delivery people, and real estate agents… these are all examples of other fields that can potentially use a tablet’s portability and touchscreen interface over a full notebook.

These fields have the most potential for professional tablet use, but even they are slow to make the transition.

Tablets’ Biggest Limits

Storage space is one of the biggest current limitations of tablets. If we’re talking about iPads, you’re looking at 64GB tops. This could work for casual users, but for more advanced needs it’s out of the question. Some people would run out of space in a few days, using it as their primary device.

The lack of a physical keyboard can create problems for various activities. Bluetooth keyboards and a variety of other creative accessories and add-ons can be used, but when carrying a second piece of hardware becomes necessary to get full functionality, how advantageous is it to have a tablet?

Additionally, only certain video formats are going to be supported on an iPad. If dealing with a variety of video formats is something you do (professionally or personally) – you can’t just sit back and hope that it will be in a format supported by your tablet. You need a notebook.

Software compatibility is another huge thorn in the side of tablets. After hearing “there’s an app for that” so many times, it’s easy to forget that most of those apps are relatively simple, and meant for casual activities.

Can it Replace My Laptop?

Don't do it!!

Whether you can replace your laptop with an iPad is going to depend on what your needs are. In early 2010, casual computer users could arguably replace a laptop with an iPad. Now it’s a no-brainer. When it comes to content consumption, a tablet is lighter, more portable, more comfortable, and more personal.

If part of your life involves creating professional-level content, tablets still have a long way to go before becoming your primary device. They don’t qualify now, and they won’t next year. Customers aren’t used to spending more than $10 for most tablet apps, so those consumer expectations could slow the march in this direction too.

The answer, therefore, hasn’t changed too much in a year. Tablets are moving in a “primary computing” direction, but they aren’t exactly sprinting. Maybe we’ll check back next year to see if the “tablets are for content consumption, notebooks are for content creation” cliche has changed. Right now it’s as true as ever.

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Have any of you traded in your laptop and gone the “all tablet” route? If so, have you run into any roadblocks, or is it smooth sailing? Do let us know down below.

Comments

  1. Sekuyffbfreskbyu says

    i agree laptops are for pro use.
    but there so many people out there bought a laptop including me just to use it for web browsing (i didnt browse for flash ads), social networking, a little downloading, some flash games (free apps optimized for tablet are better), some video chatting ……. i dont miss my convertible laptop/tablet at all.

  2. Revgilliam says

    My MacBook has been downgraded to an internet radio player. After IOS 5 cuts the “cord” with syncing I may have to retire the laptop.$600 in my bible study app alone with in app purchases. Pages and Keynote with Simplenotes in app backup are perfect (for me). I no longer (need) my laptop.

    • Roland says

      Hello Rev Gilliam, my own Rev is considering switching it Apple laptop and IPad, can you please advise what Bible study apps and applications you use on iPad and Apple laptop you use.

      He has spent a small fortune on bible. Study software for windows, which is his only barrier to entry to the world of Apple.

      Kind regards Roly

  3. Dale Strauss says

    I feel like a flying waffle (or maybe I’m just bipolar). I love the size, weight, screen, and 10 hour battery life of my iPad (v1), but I keep coming back to my “porker” HP 2740p tablet PC (was only a few years ago that my sub-4 lb 2740p was a slim and light notebook). I guess I’m just too attached to OneNote and real inking, much less the need for REAL MS Office and not some light-weight wannabes (Docs to Go; Pages; Numbers).

    Maybe if I give it another 24 months there will be an iPad size, full power, Windows slate with chops and battery life. Until then, I think I’ll just have to stick to my convertible (as he eye’s the 64gb iPad 2 and the upcoming Thinkpad tablet…)

  4. srikanth somereddy says

    My ASUS Transformer did replace my laptop to certain extent. Except for software professional use, it can replace a laptop with some future updates is what I believe.

  5. Tablet Cases says

    in the future the markets will converge. but first the technology behind tablets needs to get better. either notebooks will have a detachable screen or tablets will get widespread keyboards

  6. ERIC says

    i am an 8th grader that is currently using one of the mini acer laptops and i hate it and i dont neccessarily need an ipad or computer but i beleive that ipads are cool and they would b fun to play on but i also feel that a computer wud b a smarter decision considering that i cud get one cheaper than i can get an ipad  but i dont really know wat computer i wud get     of course there r many other options and many reason to get either one    so plz reply by telling me wat u think i shud do  thanku plz reply    

    • EMerger says

      Eric,
      Your spelling should be a bit more advanced for an 8th grader.  Perhaps you should reduce the amount of texting that you do to improve your spelling skills. Please only take this as constructive criticism. 

      • WhatEver says

        Hi Eric — I hear what EMerger is saying.  Demonstrating Intelligence is a must and text, blog, posts using shortcuts are most likely here to stay for a long time. You might consider spelling/using a word correctly with its 1st use, then abbreviate future uses.  You might use a period a bit more often.  Gotta take a breath once in a while ;-)

      • WhatEver says

        Hi Eric — I hear what EMerger is saying.  Demonstrating Intelligence is a must and text, blog, posts using shortcuts are most likely here to stay for a long time. You might consider spelling/using a word correctly with its 1st use, then abbreviate future uses.  You might use a period a bit more often.  Gotta take a breath once in a while ;-)

    • WhatEver says

      Sorry EMerger, misplaced Reply. Hi Eric — I hear what EMerger is saying.  Demonstrating Intelligence is a must and text, blog, posts using shortcuts are most likely here to stay for a long time. You might consider spelling/using a word correctly with its 1st use, then abbreviate future uses.  You might use a period a bit more often.  Gotta take a breath once in a while ;-)

    • Leyland80b says

      To answer your question, I think you should consider what you need the computer for in order of importance. I.e is email and Facebook more important than high end games like TDU2 and OMSI? I am also wondering if my new iPad, or indeed my Android tablet could replace my laptop for taking to college. What attracts me is that it would be less weight to carry. And since I can touch type on both, it boils down to the lack of a decent android Word Processor, or maybe it’s time I bought some Android apps? Anyway, I just started to accept tablets as worthy of being compared to x86 tablet pcs, after months of saying “the ipad is not a table pc – it’s a giant iPod touch!” I know now that I was wrong and can’t be separated from my iPad (unless I’m using my Archos 101).

    • life is PINK is life says

      OKAY…So depending on what you like to do now with a computer and what you want to do with it in the future that’s how i would base my descision.  A computer would only be cheaper in certain circumstances…a REALLY NICE laptop from a nice brand like Apple or HP, your lookin at about 1,000 dollars once it’s all said and done.  A medium laptop from HP or MAYBE Acer, 3 to 5 hundred dollars (Apple laptops that come that cheap either do not have good memory or are used and very crappy).  Also, if you are looking into getting a comuter of any tyoe and using it for advanced computer technology, get a NICE HP or Apple-not an ipad.

  7. Asdf says

    Its out of the question for me. I use my Laptop for school. For instance, I have an Adobe Photoshop class. I need photoshop installed on my laptop so I don’t have to go to the school’s computer lab to work. This isn’t even possible with an Ipad. Sure it would be  nice to carry my Ipad around with me instead, and do all my school work on it, but it is not possible in most cases. The only thing I could benefit from an Ipad is taking online tests, but even that is limited when typing is involved. Plus I am always needing to transfer files between a flash drive and my laptop. Once again impossible with ipad unless you have itunes installed on every computer you come into contact with.

    For me, until an Ipad can do everything a regular PC or Mac can do, theres little reason to have one.

    • Scott says

      I had that typing problem when taking an online test this past week. I was unable to input text for the short answer portion of the exam, luckily the teach allowed me to handwrite that part. Someone else in my class had the same issue on their iPad.

      If they made a larger iPad (like an iPad pro), that had more screen real-estate and more advanced specs, do you think that companies like Adobe, Autodesk, Apple, etc could port their professional-grade apps over to touch (iOS)?

  8. ThatGuy says

    For now, iPads (and all tablets) are almost novelty items, and don’t support professional use. Android Honeycomb is half baked, has about 5 apps for tablets and iOS still does not support cloud synching with Pages. I could see tablets becoming primary computing devices mid- or late-2012, with quad-core processors and updated operating systems. I’ll wait until they become capable before I buy.

  9. Scott says

    I’m a student. I traded in my laptop for an iPad. For the most part it has been smooth, but not entirely. I googled this topic because I’m considering switching back to a laptop. I love the app-specific file management of iOS. The complex file systems of the Mac and Win PCs seem so ridiculously unnecessary. I love the portability. I love the touch experience (except for extensive typing). Waiting for iOS 5 before I make a decision. 90% of what I need to do for school can be done on the iPad. The other 10% I rely on the library computers. The problems I run into most are website formatting issues, like randomly not being able to type in a text field or flash videos (megavideo please make an app! Lol) Pages, Keynote, and Numbers are amazing btw!

  10. Sjlewis76 says

    I am a power user that has a standard desktop windows 7 and an old Win xp laptop that needs to be replaced. Since I’m a professional sales person, I need presentation capability (connection to VGA and/or HDMI) and the ability to use Citrix based servers.  Also Skype capability..  It seems the IPAD can do all of this as well as work well as a reader etc.. Do I have that correct?

  11. Tomar2 says

    The problem with a tablet and the thing that nobody even speaks about is that the tablet does not have a my computer interface. You cannot install a software from a cd. When I search CDs for iPads everybody is saying that a cd is redundant for a tablet and that is completely untrue. When will a tablet have a CDROM and a my computer interface? That is when the tablet will relaxed a laptop.
    What are your thoughts does anybody see what I mean here?

    • Cfbogus says

      Tomato2,
      Installation CDs are never used to install apps on an iPad. The AppStore is still an option for Mac users, but the only way to install software on an iPad without hacking/jailbreaking it is to use the AppStore. This usually takes just afew taps.

      You owe it to yourself to try an iPad; It is clear that you’ve not used an iPad or other iOS device.

    • Mike Dvoracek says

      I actually strongly disagree here and think that CD/DVDROM is an interface of the past. Personally, I’ve not used my DVD drive on my desktop or laptop in months, and I’ve not used it regularly for at least a year. In fact, the only time I’ve used it is to write DVDs for friends or family and I would’ve preferred using a flash drive to transfer the files.
      I think that things like the MacBook Air, iPad, and Mac Mini along with their Windows PC counterparts or things like ChromeBooks are where the future of computing lies. Moreso with the ChromeBook, but that is most likely a bit further down the road. Those things are a bit ahead of their time.
      TO THE CLOUD!

    • Dbellis1337 says

      I’m sure I’m not the only one here who hasn’t used my DVD drive for…. I don’t know how long.

  12. L0RZ1 says

    I went around and really looked into the matter and have decided that an iPad would be better so I sold my laptop and bought an iPad 2 3G 64GB for $0 upfront on a $79 25GB plan. I believe the iPad does make certain tasks easier but I don’t use it at work. At work, the biggest issue is syncing the iPad and copying word documents to/from it. I believe the iPad was designed for lite use and the Wi-Fi only model would be more worth it to have something personal and easy to play with at home. The lack of Adobe Flash Player and personalisation are clearly evident but gaming is comparable, if not better, to that of a laptop. 1080p HDMI output (which works perfectly for me) is great and my children (8 and 11 years old) enjoy playing Real Racing 2, but the lack of graphics in other games such as FIFA is clear and it doesn’t come close to a PlayStation. In conclusion, I believe that the iPad was designed to do a little bit of everything and it certainly does make life easier, but its no laptop. 

  13. Irenenon says

    ok, i don’t know which i should buy. i have a home computer and would like either the ipad or laptop to use while watching tv or in our trailer or car. this is what i want to be able to use it for. eamil,facebook, check bank statments and play poker and other games. i don’t write letters or business reports etc. Also can i put pictures on a ipad and or sent pics to my home computer. as you can tell im not very computer savy.

    • Thebo9s says

      Ireneon, I would, in your position, simply get the ipad (or comparable tablet). For such casual use, you would like the portability and simplicity of a tablet.

      • Kuangkhot says

        That’s a lot of IPad money for not much in the way of demanding use. PS: Any reason why the IPad has no USB connections? And what do I do with all my disks (films, educational software, etc, etc?)

  14. Gail says

    anybody know if there are any differences between voice recognition on a tablet vs on a laptop?

  15. Cyber clown says

           As  for  my  computor  uses , I  will  never  buy  a  tablet  because  I  need  the  keyboard  for  writing  jokes  .  My  two  computors  are  a  2007  XP  desktop  and  a  2011  7  laptop  …… …. Have  a  nice  day

  16. jeaston says

    For me its not about replacing a laptop with an tablet.  The tablet’s value is an enhancement for my laptop.  I run a professional web development and video production shop and have pros and techs who use the big iron for hard, creative tasks so my iPad is an exceptional tool for staying in contact with them, reviewing their work (notability is an AWESOME app for note taking and annotating web pages/video screen shots), managing my schedule, directing my assistant, etc.  

    As a conductor my iPad is essential.  Now I do have the same challenge with creating and editing proposals. I really like the elegance of Pages but dealing with syncing issues, the clunky communication with office apps and browser issues with our Google cloud I still have a need for the trusty laptop.

    Now one other area where the tablet/laptop combo shines is with sales presentations.  When presenting to one or two people I use put the iPad in front of my prospective client and run one of our slick presentations from my laptop and a mirroring app displays my laptop screen on the iPad where they can touch-interact with the presentation.  My prospects are blown away.

    For larger groups I connect a small projector to my laptop and control the laptop from my iPad, using Splashtop’s Whiteboard app which allows me to advance slides, view the web and write/annotate the screen and even allow members of the group to do the same.  It is a great experience and one that no stand alone laptop can manage.

  17. 8th grader says

    Hi, I am an eight graders and my mom said she would buy me a laptop or an iPad. I read all of this but I still don’t know what I should pick because I do type a lot but that is a lot less heavier to carry. But the downside is if you get an iPad you also have get a keyboard and if you forget the keyboard your done. Thats not good for me because I have a lot of essays to type. Could I have some ones opinion on this. Thank you.

    • Cdh278 says

      8th grader,

      I’d go the iPad route.  Make sure you have the wireless keyboard and a case that can hold both the iPad and the keyboard.  I’d be willing to be that you WON’T forget the keyboard if you need it for class.

    • tech says

      I would first chec to see if you use the ipad how will you get your docs. to your teachers. If your school is on a network with windows computers this may be an issue. Also if you need to work on projects at school and at home how can you transfer them back and forth? With a laptop you can save Microsoft documents to a usb key and transfer them. With an ipad you can not use a usb key or Microsoft Office products.

  18. Wdickson says

    I think these comparisons should add desktops as a variable. For example, I do my “creating” and writing and such on an iMac. The choice for me is not between alternative primary computers, but alternative secondary computers. That changes significantly the way I weight the factors listed here.

  19. Sarge62436 says

    Originally, I made it a goal to get my iPhone 3GS to perform all the functions that I needed. I accomplished all except for dedicated audio recording (the headphone-jack based interfaces were no replacement for my USB audio hardware) and PC-free printing (I accomplished a workaround using Print N Share).

    That milestone reached, I grabbed an iPad2 just weeks before iOS5 came out. With iOS5, Apple’s Camera Connection Kit, iCloud, and Google Docs linked to my Docs2Go app, I took my iPad to the next level and use it as my primary device. Splashtop provides Win-based PC access for a few remaining programs and file formats that are not iOS compatible.

    …and no, you don’t need Flash…;)

  20. Anglointeriors says

    I own a small business I just use my iPhone 4 to do everything I need I don’t need a laptop any more yes sure having a big screen and nice keyboard is great but I have trained my self to use the iPhone I use apps like 360 panorama for work which I have done , numbers app for doing my accounts a little tricky at the beggining to use and to make a spreadsheet is a little bit of a pain at first , for doing my invoices I use invoice2go which is really easy to set up and makes doing invoicing a breeze . I use iCloud to back up most of my apps the ones which don’t use iCloud I use Dropbox . Documents2go is good for keeping all my copies and which I use for a 3rd back up . For signing documents I use sign and send which you can also put text on a PDF document then sign it and email it which saves me alot of messing around just use your finger as a pen on the screen pretty cool . Pages is ok for writing letters but it can get a little frustrating sometimes

  21. Anglointeriors says

    I forgot to mention if you need flash there is a app called photon which sometimes comes useful it doesn’t do all websites but apparently it is adding more websites everyday

  22. SallyG says

    I have a work blackberry that I use for my primary phone and texting and also for contacts (the camera is disabled by my employer :-( .  I am considering an ipad to replace my recently deceased laptop.  In addition to web, email and apps, I am also looking forward to the camera and also downloading books from the library, so as far as reading online, I’ll dont need a separate e-reader.

  23. Ssmith29861 says

    I was thinking that I might get an iPad this year as a replacement for my family’s old laptopthat we’ve had for a couple of years. But, my only gripes are the space and the lack of compatability with the Bluetooth keyboards currently out on the market. For this 8th grader, is it worth it?

  24. Bfulton says

    The i pad falls short when compared to the average computer and is nothing to a high end computer. I found it interesting how you though it played better due to the fact it doesnt a laptop has a better RAM, can store FAR more than an ipad , has a better processor and better video card.  The thing that makes an ipod stand out is how portable it is. adesktop is the pinnacle if your not going to be moving around a lot. If you move around a decent amount a laptop is best. Then there is the i pod which is great if you move a lot and have to stay in contact but otherwise one of the others is best

  25. Jessicaarroyo says

    I’m also wondering which would be better between and Ipad or Laptop. ive been looking for awhile for Laptops that suit my personal usage, mainly it would only be used for games and such for now until i start back up with school. the keyboard and low memory storage doesn’t bother me but from what i have been hearing it has very few apps and is unable to download certain things such as adobe flash. Is this true? this could really set me back it is.

    • tec33 says

      Yes Adobe Flash is not available. I have both and use them for different reasons, but at this point the ipad can not replace everything you can do with a laptop. If I could only have one it would have to be the laptop. The ipad it fun, convienent and easy to use, but they have a long way to go before it will replace the many uses of  a laptop.

  26. Davidmorgan24 says

    one real issue no one speaks about is the inability to print unless you buy a wireless printer or have a laptop or desktop to mail to. I know we all print rarely but it does happen, even when we buy something we like to have a copy.

  27. iPad vs Laptop says

    Now i’m in addition asking yourself which could be much better involving as well as Apple ipad or perhaps Mobile computer. you will find been surfing pertaining to a short time pertaining to Notebooks that are great for the utilization, generally it might simply be used by game titles and the like for the time being right up until we commence backup together with institution. laptop keyboards and also lower memory space storage space does not take the time myself yet coming from things i happen to be reading they have not many software and it is not able to down load somethings including flash. Is that this correct? this might genuinely arranged myself again it really is.

  28. Juan says

    Ok, bought an iPad2.

    Love: it’s fancy, I can do things that I can do in a laptop, but in a lighter device, also, it’s a nice remote.

    Hate: How do I buy one to my grandma for her to use an hp all-in-one printer when it comes to scan, edit, print documents, use email to share important docs with me and lawyers and other relatives.

    How do you buy an iPad without having any other computer at home at least?

    BL: iPad is a fancy, nice, expensive toy. Don’t use toys for serious matters unless you contract to modify it to be an actual tool.

  29. Andy Le says

    I am work for a chain of businesses and will contest that the iPad is a very suitable laptop replacement. My job consists of graphic designing (business cards, etcs) and face-to-face business negotiations and the iPad suits me very well. I am also a college student and the iPad is more than phanomenal.

    Not for everyone but for me the iPad is golden.

  30. Bobby14 says

    I am a student and have to decide if i should get a MacBook air or and iPad. I keep all my school work on a flash drive and I need to beable to take notes in class like every day. I need to know which one would be better in my situation.

    • Drew Summitt says

      iPad is better for drawn notes. Apps like Notability give you the same functionality Livescribe pen. You can sync audio with notes and type, draw, and annotate to you heart’s content. iCloud and Dropbox can go a long way to replacing your flash drive before spending any money. They only problem will be sustained typing. If you must type for long periods of time either get ye to the library or get the Macbook Air.

      If you are in a technical class that requires programming or creative apps definitely get the Air.

  31. Pegleggedous says

    I tablet is a reasonable replacement to a laptop IF you have a desktop. That’s what I do. When at home I have a personal desktop which does my massive storage of files, plays my media and does all the other things computers do. My Android is only for when on the road, where I can email, browse sites, and most anything else that I would need to do remotely.

    As a comment above said, a tablet is a good replacement for a 2nd-tier computer. It is not capable of “all” tasks a person needs to do on a computer in a day. With some pages not formatting, and no USB ports, limited or no printing capabilities and the tendency to be a one-user-at-a-time type of interface (whereas a monitor/tv is MUCH easier to gather around to watch a youtube video).

    That being said, if you have a tablet as your secondary machine, then logic suggests that your primary could/should be a desktop. That way you aren’t torn between taking your laptop or tablet on a road trip but still have true computing power available on most days.

    Having a laptop AND a tablet is just pointless in my eyes. One portable device at a time is my motto.

  32. Maximir says

    As much as I would love to use iPad instead of Notebook (more personal, more comfortable when not behind my desk), my MB Air 11 is only a couple inches bigger and it is way faster to do everything. I am one of the people with a laptop and iPhone and when traveling, I could do without a laptop but then again, MB Air is so light, it would just be stupid not to have it on me to do email and browsing way faster and comfortable. 

    What I would love is if I could come to work and plug my iPhone to a dock, large monitor, touchpad (or that could be the iPhone itself) and a wireless keyboard. That way I would not have to carry a bag on me ever. I want that life.

  33. Andy Munitz says

    My son is turning 9 and is currently using an hp laptop. He has started to type reports and uses Office 2010. My thinking is that he would be better off using an ipad 1 or 2 to do the very same thing. I can attach a bluetooth keyboard and there are many apps out there that are equal to Microsoft Office. Also, there are apps out there which allow you to print your files if needed. So I ask, do you think replacing a laptop for an iPad would be fine? His biggest complaint about the laptop is its too slow, bulky and not easy to use. We are not talking about advanced work, only 3rd, 4th, 5th grade – homework, reports, etc…

  34. Franklin Gonsalves says

    Thanks for the very enlightening article. I bought a laptop just about a month back and I just checked that I have already taken up 45GB space out of 585GB. The funny thing is I don’t even do heavy duty computing. Just some word documents, some pictures, a few videos (no full length movies), about 200 songs. I really think that I would be “up the creek without a paddle” if I had an IPad.

  35. Guest says

    One more consideration for you all!!! Upgrades! If a laptop ages, you can upgrade the Ram, HDD and processor very cheaply. What do you do for the iPad? Download software updates! File sizes are getting bigger, just look at the size progression from floppy disk, CD, DVD and Blu-ray. Games such as CODMW3 use around 8GB. 64GB with no external storage option! The iPad is designed to fall behind the technology so you have to upgrade every 1-2 years. But hey you look cool! A laptop is by far the better option!!!

    • Guest 2 says

      Although they’re certainly better than tablets in this area, I’ve never seen that its really that easy to upgrade hard drives or especially processors on laptops. They’re not designed for it like desktops.

  36. Ken Graham says

    For someone contemplating buying an ipad, this has been the most constructive critical review of the ipad
    I have read so far.

  37. Dinesh says

    Your article helped me to decide whether I should buy a laptop or an iPad. Since I create a lot of educational training videos for Microsoft Excel I have now decided to buy a laptop.
    Thank you!

  38. Leah says

    I have no idea whether to buy a laptop or ipad. I’m trying to decide quickly for my business that has just started. Which do you think is best for office work? (Excluding memory space)

    • Cheryl says

      What do you plan on using it for? I have seen it be used effectively at places like a massage therapist where they use it to track schedules and do something with payments (I am not sure if they actually run the payment through the iPad, or store the information to run later). It seems like it is a good thing for referencing information and simple input. You would probably need a larger comoputer or laptop to store larger amounts of information, because 64G goes pretty quickly.I would think about how I was going to use it, then go to a local Apple store and ask questions about what it can and can not do for you. My guess is the laptop (maybe a smaller one if you are concerned about weight) would be your safer bet. You can get a future iPad or similar device in your next refresh as the technology is likely to advance and provide more features over time.

  39. Cheryl says

    I have been considering an iPad to take on a trip instead of bringing a karger/heavier laptop. I have a DSLR which generates large files, so one of the key things I wanted to do was use something to transfer the files from the memory cards to a hard drive. I was hoping to do this on an ipad + a small portable HD. After talking to the rep at the store, I found that this basic task could not be done. Add the information in this article, I find that it is a pretty limited device, given its price tag. I am waiting to see these hybrids that are supposed to come out soon? That may be what I would need, but I fear too late for my trip.

    • iPad User says

      Not sure what you talked about with the Apple store person, but its my understanding you can transfer pictures to the iPad with the Camera Connection kit (has dongles for SD card reader and USB port). Trouble is of course the somewhat limited storage of the iPads. You could attach a USB hard drive to the iPad to transfer files there. Seems there could be more straightforward way to get files to a disk, but with the two part transfer you could leave some on iPad for viewing.

  40. Jo says

    In my opinion, the questions whether iPad can replace laptop is totally wrong for knowledge workers. The question becomes how you can integrate both devices. I am coming from a university background, and the iPad is invaluable for me for reading AND writing. I have written more about these thoughts at:
    - Why “iPad or laptop” is the wrong question for knowledge workers: http://www.joachim-scholz.com/academipad/2012/04/23/ipad-or-laptop/ and
    - Writing with the iPad (in the wild): http://www.joachim-scholz.com/academipad/2012/05/27/writing-ipad-keyboard/

  41. nicole says

    im trying to decide if i should get a laptop or an ipad i would only use it for school work and of course games but im not sure what one to get, what would be better?!?

  42. Lisa says

    Lap top or I pad…? I have neither! I would like to put my personal bookkeeping on computer, and be able to print out reports

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