Will the iPad Replace the Laptop?

Posted by K.C. with 10 Comments

With each generation of the iPad and the prolific creation apps the iPad can do almost anything. Or can it?

One question I see being explored more and more is:

Can I replace my laptop with an iPad?

With apps for everything from email and to-do lists to games and photography it doesn’t seem like too far a stretch.

This week I read about how one man is embarking on a 30 day journey to use an iPad as his primary computing device.

It might not sound like that big of a deal, but this guy is an entrepreneur and productivity addict. He even has a company built around a universal GTD app he created.

The idea of replacing my MacBook Pro with the iPad is intriguing.

A few benefits I can think of:

  • Portability – Any laptop can be heavy and cumbersome to haul around in a backpack all day. The iPad is light and fits just about anywhere (besides your pocket). When I head out the door in the morning I pause before grabbing my MacBook, but never hesitate to snatch the iPad.
  • Productivity – It’s sometimes hard to get things done on my MacBook because there are many distractions. Email, Facebook and blogs are all competing for my attention. With the iPad you can switch between apps, but primarily it provides focused task completion instead of haphazard multitasking.
  • Price – At $829 the 64GB new iPad w/ Wifi + 4G is still $170 cheaper than any MacBook Pro/Air alternative. If cost is your deciding factor this decision is a no-brainer.

However, I do have some concerns:

  • Power – Battery life aside, I wonder if the iPad has enough processing juice to handle all the applications and tasks I’d need it for throughout the day.
  • Protection – The portability of the iPad introduces it to greater opportunities to be dropped or damaged. Whereas a laptop/desktop is afforded safety due to it’s weight and size. I’d be worried about accidentally pitching the iPad on the pavement if I used it all the time (case in point: I dropped my phone 3 times today).
  • Price – Even though the new iPad is cheaper I’d be curious to know the costs associated with apps and Cloud services that bridge the gap between iPad portability and a laptop/desktop built-in functionality.

We’d love to get your perspective on the “iPad as a laptop replacement” conversation. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Do you think an iPad could replace your laptop needs? Are there any tasks you regularly do on a laptop that have shifted to the iPad?


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My name is KC and I LOVE being a husband & dad. I am a Mac fanboy, tentblogger, MBA grad, cubicle dweller and frequent abuser of Twitter & Facebook.

10 responses to Will the iPad Replace the Laptop?

  1. I hAve actually started tryin to do this. I just bought a new keyboard folio for my iPad 2. It should be in soon. I am definitely using the iPad mor than the MacBook these days. The only thing that I find difficulty with is uploading images to WordPress posts and graphic design for websites. Other than that I do most work off of the iPad.

    I also like carrying the iPad for the reason you noted above in the fact that it is light and portable. Carrying the MacBook around gets cumbersome sometimes.

    Nice post. I would definitely love to go all iPad!

    • That’s awesome, Adam. Did you order the Zagg one? I thought about getting a folio as well, but got a Mac keyboard instead. It connects to the iPad via Bluetooth and works great. I just prop up the iPad with the Smart Cover and am ready to go.

  2. I still find myself using my iPad usually for content consumption. Although it continues to improve in it’s ability to create content, I find it still lags way behind a laptop or desktop PC. (video, graphics, web design)

    I’m happy to get rid of carrying around my laptop when all I need is a writing tool though.

    • Without question the iPad will replace the laptop for the average, household computer user. It already has in my home. My wife is a home school mother of 3 and she now only uses her MacBook when a website is not compatible with a tablet.

      She creates curriculums every wednesday in Numbers (using wireless keyboard)

      She manages and prints coupons using a small set of apps before going to the store.

      She uses it for e-Mealz, both printing the shopping list and the recipes.

      She teaches from it using a diverse variety of excellent, targeted teaching apps (and AppleTV).

      And this excludes all the entertainment and recreational games that also force my young kids to learn how to read and write!

      My wife knew going in it would be frustrating at times, and it is, but with every update to iOS, with every new website redesign that supports HTML5… the days of the notebook computer as a staple in your household get fewer and fewer.

      Professionals will always use notebooks. Power users. That sort of thing.

      But not average Joe user.

      • Hey Chris! Thanks so much for dropping by. A comment from a member of the mighty 8BIT team is welcome indeed.

        I think you make a great point about the distinction between the needs of casual, every day consumers and power users who need the juice behind a laptop/desktop.

        Hope you have a great weekend!

    • Great observations, Calum. I use the iPad primarily as a consumption device as well, but I’ve also found it ideal as a writing tool. The ability to focus on one task is a great benefit. In fact I drafted this post on the iPad using iA Writer.

  3. Interesting because I’m still waiting for some more music apps, but we are almost there. I don’t own an iPad yet, but it’s in my near future.

    • Well, once you snatch up an iPad I think that you’ll find it surpasses your expectations. If there are features/capabilities that are missing from current options YOU should design an app. :)

  4. I’m not sure it will replace it but I’m sure it will enhance it! I do a good bit of design at work and I don’t think I could ever do everything on the iPad that I do on the huge monitor at work. At home, where I’m mostly consuming and not creating it is already pretty close. The only thing I really do on my iMac that I don’t on the iPad is balance the checkbook.

    I haven’t tried the Photoshop Touch app but I’m guessing I’d adapt after a while. I’m waiting for the InDeisgn app though, that’s where the bulk of my work takes place.

    • I’m finding it harder and harder not to say “there’s an app for that”.

      As Chris says in his comments above power users who are creating content on a regular basis will find the iPad somewhat lacking, but as it gets more powerful and apps become more capable to handle complex functions the gap will narrow.

      Thanks for stopping by and chiming in. Stay tuned for our relaunch next week. There will be giveaways you won’t want to miss.

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