As tablets become steadily more powerful, customers are increasingly facing the decision of whether they should invest in a full-fledged laptop, or save some money and go for an iPad. There are a number of important things one should consider before abandoning the world of personal computers, though. Here we’ll identify a few main differences and try to help you make the best decision possible.
In today’s day and age, a gigabyte of free space seems to disappear faster than you can say “more ‘Breaking Bad’ please”. In general, people are starting to stream content from the internet more than they store files on their devices, but it’s still important to have local storage capacity for those situations where you find yourself without an internet connection. The largest storage capacity available in an iPad is currently 128GB, whereas laptop and desktop drives start at 128GB and only go up from there. For example, if you go for even the baseline model of either the 27” or 21.5” iMac, you’ll get 1 terabyte of space (that’s 1024 gigabytes, to be exact). For those of you unfamiliar with how much space is required by different files, a gigabyte generally translates to about an hour of HD video, about 200 photos taken with an iPhone, or about 200 high-quality MP3’s.
This is sort of a broader topic, but the long and short of it is that with a laptop, you will generally have more flexibility than you would with an iPad. What do I mean by flexibility? I’m glad you asked.
For one thing, a computer is more capable of connecting to external devices like printers and external hard drives. True, you can wirelessly print from an iPad to a printer, but the printer has to be WiFi-enabled, and if it doesn’t support Apple’s AirPrint technology, you’ll need to have a 3rd-party app to be able to print. Another commonly-used external device is a hard drive or thumb drive, and there is currently no way to hard-wire a drive to the iPad. There are a very small number of external drives that can connect wirelessly to the iPad, but again, you’ll need special apps to support them and you can’t necessarily use them in all the ways you’d use a drive connected to a computer.
Another important distinction is the iPad’s limitation in terms of supported file formats. You know how you have that one favorite blackjack game that you can only get to through Safari? Chances are it uses an animation technology called Flash, which isn’t supported on the iPad. There are also video formats like AVI that won’t play on an iPad, but are natively-supported through the Mac’s Quicktime Player.
Now I know I’ve sort of been putting down the iPad, but one area where it has a big advantage over computers is its touchscreen interface. Although Apple has started to build in more functions in the computers to make them similar to using a touchscreen device (multi-touch gestures, Launchpad, etc), they still don’t allow the immediacy and intuition of seeing something on the screen and manipulating it directly with your fingers. While this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for a lot of people, it is a major difference you should factor in along with the previously discussed topics.
In general, the apps available on an iPad don’t have nearly as many features as an equivalent app on a computer. You can see it very clearly in this side-by-side comparison of Apple’s Pages app:
As you can tell, there are far more options available in the Mac version versus on the iPad. Furthermore, the Mac allows you to have multiple windows open in the application so you can easily access different tools. Many people who have grown used to this windowed environment will find it sorely lacking on an iPad, where you have far fewer options available via a single click.
These are just a few of the main features that distinguish the iPad from a computer. Before investing in a new device, you should always make sure it’s capable of doing everything you need it do do, and we’re here to help you make that decision. Feel free to stop by mac-fusion anytime to discuss in-detail what solution would be best for you.