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iPad ~ Is it really better than a laptop?

Macbook 13" with an iPad

Now that I've owned an iPad for a little over a month, I'm ready to compare. Most of us do believe that it is a new product category and cannot be compared to traditional computers. But if I'm doing my routine San Francisco to New York city travel, would I carry an iPad or my Macbook?

iPad is Better

Here is a list of things where iPad rocks:

More Portable than Laptop

As you can guess by the picture (iPad vs a 13" Macbook) iPad is significantly smaller and lighter. This is a big advantage during travel.

Quick On/Off

iPad is quick to turn on & off. Due to long battery life, it rarely requires to be shut down. It's OS takes less time to load than any kind of laptop.

Great Battery Life

iPad battery lasts 10-12 hours of active use. Makes it ideal for long flights as I'm never looking to charge it in a plane or at the Airport Gates. This is not that big an issue with the newer Macbooks, but my Macbook Pro's (3 years old) battery life is just around 3 hours.

Easy Airport TSA Screening

US Airport security considers iPad different from Laptop i.e. unlike a laptop (which requires removal from a bag during the scanning) an iPad can be inside the luggage. It is easily recognized by the scanners. I have had no trouble during my multiple trips this year.

No Heated Laps

Anyone who has used a Macbook for a considerable time knows how burning hot they can get. This has given birth to devices like Raindrop’s iLap and Brookstone’s ePad. Good News! iPad doesn’t get hot at all, no matter how long you use it.

Faster with Multi-touch screen

iPad is very fast due to Apple's A4 processor. Everything opens and closes in a flash. Browsing becomes extra fun with speed and responsive touch screen. I really like double clicking the main screen which zooms in the text of the webpage hiding all the ads (on the sides & top)

Reading is more fun

Though iPad hasn't got the 'paper like' or E-ink kindle display, iBooks screen brightness can be dimmed to reduce the LED back-lit considerably. iPad has revolutionized how we read newspapers, magazines and books. Even Kindle has an application for iPad. UK newspaper Financial Times has a great application, seems I'm holding the actual newspaper. Wired's first iPad edition has been a huge hit too.

As a physician one of my favorite applications is Mekentosj's Papers. It can bring all the medical literature journals and papers in an electronic format. PDF opens full screen and can be arranged by journals, authors and different categories. I'm no longer dependent on print versions which easily get lost. In a way it allows carrying entire research library all the time with easy one click sharing of articles.

Portable Media

Games, Music, Movies and Pictures are all kind of more fun due to iPad's gorgeous screen. I wonder who would buy Brookstone's digital picture frame now? Though I'm not an avid gamer, those who have tried games on iPad seem to love it.

Laptop is Better

Ok now what are the areas which make me miss a laptop?


iPad is a great way to consume content, but creating it can be challenging. Though Apple's iWork suite for iPad is very impressive, it just wouldn't allow all the features of the desktop version. I recently tried making a medical presentation on iPad's Keynote, it was difficult. I couldn't add notes, format text etc.

Lack of Physical KeyBoard

Touch screen keyboards are fancy, but any serious typing or work is still better on a real keyboard. iPad works flawlessly with bluetooth wireless keyboard, but who wants to carry an extra device? iPad is too big to hold vertically and type. Landscape typing on screen requires a case which props it up to 30-45 degree angle. This isn't a major problem though, I can easily type long emails on iPad but still prefer a physical keyboard (faster & easier)

Now this changes with new iPad OS later this year. Currently iPad only runs one application at a time i.e. creating a presentation and you have to close Keynote again and again to get pictures or browse the web for content. It seriously impairs productivity.

Lack of Built-in Camera

This certainly isn't a major drawback as most of us carry cell phones with cameras. For others (like my wife) video conferencing as integral part of computing, so it maybe another reason to keep your laptop

The Bottom Line

Like a lot of Apple products, iPad isn't offering anything which isn't available in other forms of computers. However, the way it integrates multi-touch, portability, speed and e-reading in a small device is incredible. It has a tremendous potential in so many ways. In the health-care industry we would likely be able to view X-rays, lab results and full EMR's on iPads in future. We use it already in our patient rounds daily to look up relevant medical literature or drug information.

Ultimately its not about getting everything in one device, its about giving a great user experience and iPad does it very well.

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Reader Comments (3)

Hi Bilal! Nice post!
I think the fact that you had the product for some time now helped provide an objective review. I didn't know the "Easy Airport TSA Screening" fact, nice to know! Question, does the Skype app run on the iPad?

June 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter@silverpeanut

Hey, thanks for appreciating my post. Skype iPhone app runs on iPad (no dedicated iPad Skype App yet) and you can make calls. I've heard Skype will be releasing a dedicated iPad App soon & with iOS4 it should be able to run in the background so we will be receiving calls too (Skype would always run in the background). I'm excited.
What will be more exciting though are "face time" video conference calls on the next iPhone

June 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBilal

i dont think ipad is better than laptop,but tablet is the trend of future.
people need the lighter and thinner electronic products to put them in the pocket.

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdell xps m1530 akku

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