written by: C.D. Crowder•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 12/26/2010
Laptops and iPads both have their advantages so the answer varies based on your computing needs.
slide 1 of 3
Pros and Cons of the iPad
First, let us look at the reasons why an iPad is a great accessory or tool to have. The iPad is very slim and easy to store when traveling or while on the go during a busy day. There are thousands of apps you can download to turn your iPad into a gaming system, e-book reader, music player, movie player, web browser and much more. The iPad is also touchscreen only, meaning no keyboard. However, there is a virtual keyboard for those who want or need one. The iPad weighs in at 1.5 pounds and has a 9.5 inch display. The iPad has a long battery life, 10 hours, with normal use. The more resource hungry apps may drain the battery faster.
All these features sound great, so what's the downside? If you want to surf the web while traveling, you must purchase a data plan, which is currently only available from AT&T. The WiFi version doesn't require a monthly plan, only a wireless Internet connection. You cannot connect peripherals, such as USB drives, printers, mice or keyboards unless you have a docking station. The iPad is also generally more fragile than a laptop due to its slim, lightweight design, but it can be protected with various covers.
Now that we've looked at the iPad, how does a laptop compare? Laptops are basically the travel version of a desktop computer. Laptops have actual keyboards, with many varieties having full keyboards with a number pad, perfect for those who use keyboards often. You can connect other devices to a laptop, such as external hard drives to provide extra storage. If you want a larger screen, laptops deliver with screens starting at 11 inches and increasing to over 18 inches, though larger screens equal bulkier laptops.
Another benefit of a laptop is you're not limited to the App Store. You can download or purchase software and applications anywhere. The only limitations are the minimum system requirements. Laptops usually have built-in wireless so you can connect using WiFi or mobile wireless Internet. You can also connect with any Internet service provider as long as coverage is available.
Now for the cons. Laptops are heavier, with most weighing at least 3 pounds. Laptops do not have touchscreens unless you pay extra for the option. Software for laptops typically costs more than apps and requires more legwork to find than an app. Battery life is much shorter than an iPad, with most providing less than 4 hours, though some now last up to 8.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons / Matthew Bowden
slide 3 of 3
The Final Battle – iPad vs Laptop
You now know the best and worst of both. So which one should you choose? If you want something for entertainment while traveling or you don't need peripherals or extra storage, an iPad is your best option. Choose an iPad if you only want a web browser or an app utility.
Laptops are best for those who need to work while traveling. The full keyboard is more ergonomic. Multi-tasking is also best on a laptop with easy to manage icons and windows. If you want something to perform more like a desktop replacement, a laptop is what you need.
Though both have their benefits, you should also look at the negative side of both. There is no clear winner in the iPad vs laptop battle. Look at both carefully and choose which one fits your needs. Forget the hype and you'll be happier.