Can the iPad replace my laptop?

By on July 18, 2012
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Has the Apple tablet grown enough to chuck your laptop?


I often get asked if the iPad can be used as a replacement for a laptop. My answer is usually along the lines of another question: What do you mainly use your laptop for- to create or consume content? The blank stare that I generally get back tells me that I need to clarify my answer.

When Apple launched the iPad, it was mainly marketed as a content consumption device which meant that it was wonderful for playing games, watching videos, browsing the web and reading your books- things that involved a passive approach from the user’s side.

However, with updates to hardware and iOS, the iPad has also become fairly capable as a content creation device. For example, you can now edit photos on it, create documents and music, as well as do a bit of coding. In fact, I created the entire presentation for our previous Board meeting on the iPad including charts and tables. Granted it wasn’t as easy and intuitive as using my laptop but, it was still possible.

Coming back to the question of replacing your laptop with the iPad, my answer for most users is no. Because most people fall somewhere between creating and consuming content. For example, my mom might never be interested in creating a presentation or coding a game but she does like posting pictures on Facebook or sending an attachment over email. Neither of these activities is very intuitive on the iPad.

The iPad currently blocks the upload button on the browser (Safari) – although this is expected to change in iOS 6, It also has no way of attaching files from the mail application. Yes, there are ways around both these problems but the philosophy behind iPad is to make it an extremely simple device that anyone from a kid to an elderly can start using by just picking it up.

So to conclude, the iPad works wonderfully as a companion device to your computer and for many, it almost serves as a primary device. But it still needs to grow up and there will always be tasks that you will want to turn to your computer for. It will certainly get better with time- keep in mind that the iPad is still a very new device that is just a bit over two years old. But for now, a computer is still very much needed for many things that the iPad can’t do.


Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

  • Partha Srinivasan

    I would think that the Android Tablets (the newer ones) could (COULD) be some sort of replacement to a laptop! Transformer, Kindle Fire, Nexus – case in points… I dunno

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