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The iPad and MacBook Compared

written by: Donny Yankellow•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 11/16/2010

Are you trying to decide between a new iPad and a new MacBook? They are similar in some ways, but in others they are very different. Read the article for more details.

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    Do You Buy an iPad or a MacBook?

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    Many people have considered buying an iPad instead of a MacBook. In fact my uncle did just that. The iPad suited his needs fine and he decided he didn’t need the MacBook. While the iPad might be able to replace a MacBook for some, it might not for others. Read on to find out the main differences and similarities between the two.

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    One is a Tablet, One is a Laptop

    Of course, the biggest difference is the form factor. The form factor controls the way you use each device. The iPad is a smaller, lighter tablet (like a giant iPod Touch) and the MacBook is a heavier laptop available in various sizes and configurations. With that difference comes more flexibility for the MacBook. The MacBook has ports (ie. USB, ethernet, etc) for connecting devices while the iPad does not. That’s not to say you can’t connect anything to the iPad, but you can connect a lot more to a laptop.

    Being a laptop the MacBook has a real keyboard. The iPad has a touch keyboard, but you can use a bluetooth keyboard or connect a USB keyboard via the camera connector kit.

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    Price and Storage

    There other big differences between a MacBook and an iPad are price and storage space. The iPad starts at $499, while a MacBook starts at $999. That is a big difference.

    However, that $499 for an iPad only gets you 16GB of storage, while the $999 MacBook will get you 250GB of storage. Again, a big difference. If you want to carry around a lot of music and a lot of video you need to consider the 64GB iPad model, or for a few hundred dollars more a MacBook.

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    Applications and Software

    Both the MacBook and the iPad can run a lot of different applications. The biggest difference is you can only add apps to the iPad with Apple’s App Store (unless you jailbreak, which is another story). Since you can only use the App Store, you are limited in what goes on your iPad by Apple’s app approval process. If Apple says no, you can’t put it on your iPad.

    The MacBook, on the other hand, can have any Mac compatible application on it. If you can find it on the internet and it is compatible you can install it.

    While the iPad is great and can do almost anything Mac apps can, there are some things it cannot do. You cannot do professional graphics or movie editing on the iPad. You'll want the processing power of a MacBook for that.

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    Internet Access

    Both the iPad and MacBook can connect to the Internet wireless and send email as long as you have a connection. The biggest difference when it comes to the Internet is the 3G model of the iPad. While you can purchase devices that let you have Internet anywhere on the MacBook, you can purchase an iPad with 3G internet built in. All you have to do is sign up for a data plan and you can take the iPad on the go and have Internet anywhere.

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    Expandibility

    If you like being able to install more memory into your computer the iPad is not for you. You are stuck with what it comes with. The MacBook, on the other hand, can be expanded with more memory as you outgrow what it came with and need more power. One of the best ways to speed up a MacBook is to add more memory. With that said, the iPad apps are designed to work with the iPad so speed and power should not be an issue.

    Both the iPad and MacBook are great machines. What you want to do with them should be the deciding factor in which one you buy. But if you have the cash, just buy both!