Since the original iPad was release and subsequently followed by many competing tablets, tablets have taken off. In fact, some people have replaced computers with tablets and some chose to buy tablets instead of a computer. I don’t think this will really hurt the computer industry but, this has greatly impacted the netbook market. Tablets typically are lighter, more portable and have better battery life than laptops and netbooks. Personally, I replaced my netbook, which I used mainly for notetaking in class, email, and surfing the web with an iPad and can’t find anything that I need to do that the netbook could do and my iPad couldn’t. For many people this is the entire extent of what they use computers for, making it a possibility for those people to use just a tablet instead of a computer. Don’t get me wrong, computers will alway have their place and I think most people will still have a computer and many will have both a computer and a tablet to have the best of both worlds. But for those who only use their computers for surfing the Internet and checking email as many do, the iPad would be a perfect device. One example of this would be grandparents or other older people who just want a computer for communicating with family and web surfing. The iPad is also great for tasks like word processing as well as long as you have a good app. I use QuickOffice, it is $15, but, it edits word, excel and PowerPoint documents and even connects to Dropbox, Google Docs and many other cloud services making it easy to get work done whether on a mobile device or computer. Another good test case for this is someone who only wants For many users, this is the extent of their computer usage and for people who have never used a computer, an iPad is much easier and simpler to use and learn.
Currently, the iPad is not able to operate as an independent device, it instead, must be first connected to a computer and sync with iTunes to initially setup the device, synchronize data and to upgrade the operating system. When iOS 5 come out in the fall, the iPad will be able to be setup as a stand-alone device, can sync over wifi both to a computer and the cloud and iOS updates will be done over the air. iOS5 will also be adding a lot of other features that will let the iPad work as an independent device even if you don’t have a computer. iOS 5 will cause many people realize that the iPad and other tablets already do more than they need a computer for and they could just get that instead of a computer.
The iPad is great for travel, on my past two week long trips, I just took my iPad and iPhone and left my computer at home. When I go on vacation I usually just do basic computing tasks like surfing the Internet, checking email and maybe writing a little. As long as I can get a good Internet connection, my iPad des everything I need, since I don’t usually do video editing or anything else that my iPad can’t do. The iPad is much lighter than a laptop and is so thin it can go almost anywhere. I probably could just bring my iPhone but, the bigger screen is nice to have for writing longer e-mails and working on documents.
There are a few accessories that I highly recommend for people who are considering using an iPad instead of a computer. Every tablet user should have a case of cover and screen protector just to keep the device protected, but if you want to use it as a computer-replacement, I recommend these additional accessories:
1. Bluetooth keyboard
For all those who aren’t full fans of or uncomfortable with the on-screen keyboard the Apple Bluetooth keyboard or any Bluetooth keyboard can help those who prefer a physical keyboard over the iPad’s touch screen keyboard. There are even cases that make an iPad look a lot like a laptop with the iPad on the top half of the case and Bluetooth keyboard on the bottom with a clamshell design. These are typically more expensive than a regular bluetooth keyboard, but could be good for those who are used to working with a laptop. A standalone Bluetooth keyboard is usually between $30 and $70.
2. Airprint Compatible Printer
If you want to print anything from your iPad you need to use AirPrint. As of right now a printer needs to have a special air print driver so you can wirelessly print from your iPad. Apple has a list of compatible printers listed on their website, and I think AirPrint will be built into most printers soon.
3. Camera Connection Kit
For those who take digital pictures, you will need the Camera connection kit which is $30 so you can copy your pictures onto your iPad, but in my opinion if you wan to do any kind of photo management or editing you should stick with a computer. But, this is a nice accessory for clearing off memory cards while your traveling so you can take more pictures.
4. AV Adapter
if you want to display your iPad on a bigger screen like a HDTV or other monitor, you need the AV adapter to connect it to a device via HDMI. Remember that to mirror your iPad screen you need to have the iPad 2, the original iPad will only output supported apps. If you have a new Apple TV, you can also display your screen wirelessly over your home network.
I’m not saying these new tablets will replace computers, computers will always have their place. However, the most basic users and new users who have a limited needs for their computer might be better off with an iPad or other tablet device. One thing to keep in mind though is that if you are considering having a tablet as your only computer, then you may want to consider the 3G models because they will allow you to have Internet access anywhere you can get a cell phone signal and might be easier than having to setup a home Internet service provider. Tablets are still relatively new technology and there are a lot of things it can’t do, for some, it works and they don’t need do anymore than you can already use an iPad for. For people who are very basic users, or those who have a netbook in addition to a regular computer the iPad is a good choice. It is not a replacement for the majority of users, but it is a great travel device or additional device to a computer; however it is very simple to use, so the most basic users would be able to do what they need to do without being overwhelmed.