Compare iPad to Laptop

April 8, 2011 | 1 Comment

Are you a Microsoft Windows user considering buying an Apple iPad?

For more than 25 years, I've been using Microsoft Windows. For the past few years, I've been using an HP/Compaq Windows “tablet” as my primary computer.  I was seduced into pre-ordering an iPad by it's slim size, light weight, and impressive 10 hour battery life. The moment I heard about the iPad, I knew that it would be an ideal tool for e-mailing, surfing the Internet, and reading. After using the iPad for several days now, I can say that it has exceeded my expectations. I am not an Apple fan boy, but I agree with many other reviewers that the Apple iPad is definitely revolutionary.

If all you do is eMail, correspondence, Internet Browsing, and Twitter or Facebook, then you can probably get by with the iPad as your primary daily computer. You can't run specialized software on the iPad, so if you have an accounting, custom database, or fancy graphics program, then you may want an iPad just as a “traveling” computer that you use in your bed, easy chair, patio, bus or train ride or to take along as a daily planner.

Keep in mind that you'll still need a Windows or Mac desktop computer to run the iTunes software needed to initially set up the iPad and transfer your picture and music library. Once you've set up your iPad, however, you can download apps directly to the iPad and use it indefinitely without having to connect it to a computer.


iPad Size and Weight: An iPad weighs as much as a 400 page soft-cover book, but its physical width is as thin as a 200 page book.  The Apple iPad weighs about 1.6 pounds and the Amazon Kindle DX, which is about the same size, weighs 1.2 pounds. The iPad feels a bit like you're carrying around a 1.6 pound wooden bread cutting board, but is considerably more useful.  BTW, the iPad can create great salsa. [Link to Colbert?] Exact iPad dimensions: 9.56 in (24.3 cm) × 7.47 in (19.0 cm) × 0.5 in (1.3 cm).

iPad Battery: My iPad battery has never run out during my (somewhat long) daily use. Apple reports a 10 hour battery life, but other reputable reviewers have mentioned that they had the iPad battery last up to 12 hours. It will stay charged on standby for 30 days and can play 140 hours of audio. The long battery life is achieved because the iPad is solid-state, (it has no CD/DVD drive or moving parts) and the screen size is only 9.7 inches with an energy conserving back light.  The iPad takes about 4 hours to fully charge if you're using a wall power adapter or up to 6 hours if you're charging it by connecting it to your computer's USB port.

iPad Keyboard: Using the iPad keyboard is actually called “Tapping” not “Typing,” because you tap the keys one at time with no shifting for capitalization.  The iPad has built in “predictive text” than can automatically predict what you're about to type and will automatically capitalize or correct words as you're tapping.  Because of the limited screen space on the iPad, only alpha characters are displayed, by default.  To reveal the “number keyboard” or the “symbols keyboard” you must tap a button on the main keyboard to reveal them. While using three “partial” keyboards sounds like it would be overly cumbersome, it is actually surprisingly accurate and effective.  I've installed an iPad typing tutor app called “TapTyping” that will seemingly speed up my tapping. However, if the tapping thing doesn't work out for you, I've written an article about how to connnect a regular keyboard to the iPad, which you can find here.

iPad Memory: The iPad is available with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB.  The base iPod model with 16GB of RAM may be adequate if you don't plan to store movies, music, or pictures.  I bought the 32GB model because I expect to load videos on my iPad to watch while I travel.  If you always have a live Internet connection, you won’t need store video on your iPad, but instead be able to watch live streaming video from the Internet.

iPad WiFi + 3G (Cellular Internet): Like the iPhone, the iPad always knows where you are.  I was pleased to discover that even though I did NOT buy the 3G iPad, the WiFi version still uses triangulation to find my location. This means that I can use my WiFi iPad to easily find local points of interest and get maps and directions to and from my current location- And the iPad already knows approximately where I'm located.  However, since I don't have a 3G (cellular) iPad, I can't use it for live GPS tracking navigation. I have a dashboard GPS for point-to-point navigation, so I probably won't miss it on my ipad. I bought the WiFi-only iPad because most places I plan to use the iPad have WiFi availability. The iPad WiFi+3G adds $150 to the iPad price, and the iPad's 3G cellular contracts are contract free, pay as you go. You can purchase an unlimited 3G data access for $30 per month, or 250MB per month for half that price. If you choose to access the Internet only via WiFi, then you can stop the AT&T contract and pay no monthly fees.

iPad Touch Screen:ipcw cigarette lighter

ong> Using the Apple iPad's touch screen is just about as easy as making popcorn in a microwave oven.  The iPad touchscreen is a huge boon to folks who are mouse / trackball / touchpad impaired (I'm reminded of my client in the 1980's who tried to use his mouse directly on the screen… But I digress). One of the reasons I've been using a Windows Tablet computer is because I can use it in more places than a notebook.  I can cradle my tablet (or my iPad) so that I can use it while I'm standing, or when a table or flat surface isn't available. The Apple iPad's touch screen is even better than my Windows tablet because all the applications were designed to work by touch; the iPad lets me accurately use my finger to operate programs and navigate, but my old tablet required that I use a somewhat unintuitive stylus on programs that weren't necessarily designed to work with a stylus. Apple's “Pinch-to-Zoom” feature allows you to pinch your fingers on the screen then expand your fingers to “zoom in” on what you're viewing.  Pinch-to-zoom is something you can't do with a mouse, trackball or touchpad. Overall, the iPad's responsive and fast scrolling screen makes the iPad a joy to use.

iPad Video: The video on an iPad is bright, sharp and fast. Streaming video is nearly as good as a portable High Definition TV when watching high-quality video streams from Netflix or from a broadcast website like ABC, NBC or CBS.  A few times, my wife and I have used the ABC app to watch current ABC programs on the iPad with the added bonus of “limited commercial interruptions.”  The iPad uses a new LCD screen technology that makes the iPad screen visible from all angles. This is unlike the LCD on your desktop pc or notebook, which requires that you sit directly in front of it for the best picture.  The iPad's “In-Plane Switching (IPS)” 9.7 inch LCD screen provides an amazingly wide 178-degree viewing angle with 1024 × 768 pixels.  If you were to use your iPad as a $500 Digital picture frame, folks at every angle would be able to see it.

Operating System: The iPad does not use Apple's Mac OS. Instead, it uses Apple's iPhone operating system even though the iPad isn't a phone. I agree totally with Jason Calacanis’ prediction that Apple will offer the Apple iPhone OS on the next cheap Apple desktop and notebook computers to undercut the price of the current Apple OS X. The iPad's operating system is enhanced by a 1 GHz A4 processor.

Speed and Stability: The iPad seems really fast, and the iPad's operating system is very stable. Of course, if an app crashes, it's really not the fault of Apple; it's the fault of the independent application developers who wrote the app. I bought a couple of dozen apps for my iPhone and only a word processing app “crashed” by disappearing and returning me to the home page when it couldn't load a large file.  Still, only the application stops working. The iPad didn't crash, though, and it went on its merry way back to the iPad “home” screen. The dreaded blue screen of death doesn't exist in the iPad world.

iPad App Prices: I disagree with iPad reviews that say iPad applications are too expensive.  Those reviewers are comparing iPad app prices to similar apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. From my point of view, as a Windows or MacOS desktop computer user, I think iPad applications are incredibly cheap. Most iPad applications cost between $.99 and a few dollars. Even word processing applications that sell for $40 or $50 on the desktop cost only a few bucks when you buy them for the iPad. Apple's “Pages” app, which replicates MS Word, Powerpoint and Excel cost only $10 each. It's also very easy to spot all the completely free applications at the Apple App Store.

iPad Games: I'm not a hardcore gamer, but I did install a highly rated car racing game called “RealRacingHD” that has sound effects and high definition graphics for the iPad's screen. RealRacingHD can also be installed on the iPhone or iPod touch and up to 6 people can race each other through a WiFi network connection or through a 3G cell connection. When playing, you hold the edges of the iPad and move the entire device like a steering wheel. The gyro compass inside of the iPad understands your movements and drives the car on the screen according to the way you “steer.” From realistic graphics and sounds to innovative and simple controls, everything about this game is beautiful.

The bottom line: I'm enamored with the simplicity, speed, and power of the Apple iPad.  Although you'll need another computer to set it up and to transfer files, the Apple iPad makes a wonderful traveling companion and is ideal for computer users who have “light work” that they prefer to do away from their desk.

Upcoming iPad Articles

What's Wrong with the Apple iPad
What's Right with the Apple iPad
How to connect a regular keyboard to the Apple iPad

How to Print from an Apple iPad
Typing Quickly on the iPad
Reading eBooks on the iPad
Watching Video on the iPad
Web Surfing on the iPad with Safari

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One person is talking about “Compare iPad to Laptop

  1. Chuck, you are right. Longtime PC user back to the original. I bought MACs for the kids, but never for myself. Didn’t use the Iphone because the keyboard was way too small. I just got the IPAD 16GB 3G. I am very impressed. The screen is incredible. Way better than any laptop out there. I have left it on all day and you are right 10 hours of battery life compared to my hp laptop with 2 1/2 hours. I want to use it for business as much as possible. I use an online calendaring system called goclio that is working fine. I love that you can get to an app or webpage very quickly without waiting for the PC to come back to life, load the program, and finally get the page I need. Normally a 5 minute process. The apps are incredible. Cheap, little support but very good. I just got Readdledocs to store my clients file that were in pdf on the IPAD with a filing system similar to Paperport. I think the Ibooks app is probably good enough to give Kindle fits as a comparision. I don’t really care about the lack of a camera. You are not going to run Word or Quickbooks on it. The lack of flash support is a small problem. A lot of websites you go to on Safari just don’t work without Adobe Flash. But the main ones I would use don’t need adobe flash anyway. I was hoping to print with it. I cannot figure out why Apple does not support wireless printing. I am going to try a few of the ones you recomended. So far AT&T is handling the load when I am away from WiFi. Apple guys recommended 16 GB to me, but I am wondering if it is too small. The Apps seem to take a lot of space. I have downloaded 7 apps Itunes is saying apps are using 2GB of space. The unit itself is delicate. I do worry about dropping it because the weight is not completely balanced in one hand. I am trying to find a padded cover from Apple for traveling with it . After replacing two iphones that were stolen and one that had a cracked screen, I am wary of the durability of these products if you drop it . Anyway, it is so good on viewing videos, books, and news articles I could not put it down last weekend.

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