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Wait! Before you buy your new iPad, read this!

by on December 7th, 2010

Being the resident “technologist” in my office, I’ve noticed two interesting trends this holiday season:

1. Lots of people want iPads.
2. Apple has done such a good job of promoting the iPad, they almost did *too* good of a job.

Second only to “What’s the difference between WiFi and 3G?” the most often question I get asked is “Can an iPad replace my laptop/desktop/[fill in computing need here]?”. Surprisingly – to me – my answer is a resounding NO!

I’m realizing I’m either blessed or have too much disposable income. I have an iMac, a MacBook, a Mac Mini Snow Leopard Server and my iPad (I’m ignoring my two rarely used Windows laptops). I say this as I’m realizing that I’m one of a handful that apparently have more than one computer at home.

When I’m being asked if the iPad can replace the laptop, it’s usually to physically replace the aging portable and to dispose of the old machine totally. They want the iPad to become the only computer in the household. See my point yet?

While this concept appeals to me somewhat, I try and logically rationalize it to my computer-challenged colleagues. I so desperately want to say it’s a good idea but I can’t. Here’s why.

As the only computer in the household, with only an iPad you can’t*:
- update the system
- fully surf the net
- print
- share files with friends (other than via email)
- run an off the shelf Mac program
- more

*Yes in theory if you have a buddy with a computer you could do all this without actually owning another computer yourself.

I’m really surprised at how many people assume they can walk into their local Best Buy, buy an off-the-shelf Mac program and just simply install it on their brand new iPad. I wont rehash the whole Flash issue either but there are lots of sites that haven’t converted to HTML5 yet and the iPad isn’t quite ready to handle 100% of the web. That’s why I say Apple has done almost too good of a job: People believe the iPad is really a stand-alone laptop replacement. I’d love to say it is but right now – in it’s present incarnation – it isn’t.

So when you’re shopping for yourself or your darling sister that wants to replace their computer with an iPad, make sure you AND they understand. It would be best to at least *keep* the old clunker to maintain updates, surf the occasional Flash site and maybe print off the rare movie ticket.

Happy Holidays Everyone and Happy Apple Shopping!

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Posted under: Recommendations, Uncategorized