iPad Replacement for Laptop?

Laptop makers have nothing to fear from any version of Apple’s iPad … for now. The iPad may be all that, but where’s the bag of chips? Apparently, according to Dan Gordon in his article for Intivix, they’re not coming. Others, like Will Shanklin and Lauren Hockenson, would disagree. Shanklin and Hockenson believe that the iPad will one day supplant the laptop, even in the business world.

If you have an iPhone, or any type of touchscreen smart phone, you have some idea what it’s like to use an iPad. Shanklin and Gordon agree that the iPad might not be the best tool for people who do a lot of writing. As Shanklin put it, “Repeatedly tapping your fingers on glass is never going to be pleasant.” But there are solutions to that problem, which Shanklin pointed out himself. If you don’t mind carrying around an extra device, then there’s a Bluetooth keyboard that you can use when you need to type something longer than an email message or tweet. Another option is to spend about $100 for a case with a built-in keyboard. There’s also the option of using dictation software like Dragon, which will set you back about $200, to dictate articles or lengthy reports. So, what do you do if you store your documents on a CD or thumb drive? As any iPad owner can tell you, the device isn’t equipped for them.

In the cloud era, files can just as easily – and according to some, more safely – be stored online with Dropbox or Box.net. Most public libraries have desktops that allow you to use both CDs and thumb drives. You could use Google Docs for creating, editing, storing and sharing new documents, or for about $15 a month, you could subscribe to Documents-To-Go and create and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on your iPad. So, that solves the problem of file storage.

For the average person – even the average small-business owner — who uses his iPad for sending emails, tweeting and posting updates on his Facebook page, the iPad is as good as a PC and lighter weight. It’s also good for basic photo and video editing. With more and more websites switching to HTML 5, the fact that the iPad lacks Flash is becoming less of an issue as well.

There are all kinds of apps and other improvements, particularly with the new iPad 3, that make using an iPad as simple as using a laptop. But it doesn’t seem to be as convenient. Cloud storage is great, but it shouldn’t be the only place your documents are stored. In iPad’s just don’t have thumb drive capabilities. So, in that regard, they will never replace a laptop. Given what iPad cost, the extra expenditures required to make it a viable option for people who do a lot of writing make it less cost-effective than a laptop.

Advocates of the iPad have an answer for every reservation that a laptop user might have for not wanting to switch, although, as Shanklin pointed out, professionals like graphic artists will probably never be better off using an iPad. Bottom line, regardless of how many improvements Apple makes to the iPad, for most users, it all comes down to a matter of taste.

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