Is an iPad a good replacement for Macbook?



The iPad can to do most things a laptop can do, and the retina display on the latest iPad is better than the display most laptops! So is there any reason to still buy a laptop?  The simple answer is yes. iPads are a great complement to your desktop mac or laptop but probably not a replacement. Here’s why.

iPads are great. Watching my kids use them for school has made me realise they can do lots of things that in the past only a laptop or desktop computer could do.  They can edit movies. They can compose and record songs. You can hook the iPad up via MIDI to a keyboard and use it as an external sampler and synthesizer. You can do word processing in Pages and make Keynote presentations. You can watch movies. The question is, is there any reason to get a laptop?

Well, yes…

Dexterity and age. I’ve watched older people (over 50) try to use an iPad and perhaps because there fingers are dry or perhaps because their fingers are more stubby, it seems harder to press in the right place. So for some people it’s a lot easier to use a mouse on a laptop  than use the touch interface on an iPad.

Learning curve.  Pretty much all the apps need to be re-learned on the iPad. Menu’s are different. Ways of doing things are different. I’d encourage people to have a go, get an iPad, and learn how to use it. But if you need to use it right away  (for example replacing a laptop with an iPad) it may be significantly slower the first few times you use it. So plan to have a few months to learn to use it before you need to rely on it.

Different apps. If you use apps like Excel, Filemaker Pro, Photoshop or Illustrator then there may be iPad apps that do a similar thing, but they will not do the same thing. They may do what your old apps did, but they may not read the files from your old apps. So you probably won’t be able to load and edit those old files on the iPad.

No USB Thumbdrive access. You can’t plug a USB thumbdrive into an iPad.

No DVD Drive. We rely less on DVD and CD’s now days but there are still manny things you can only get on DVD. For example if you are n holidays you can’t go to a DVD store, hire a DVD and watch it on your iPad. You can’t borrow a DVD from the local library to watch. You can of course hire a movie from Apple and download it to your iPad, but you may be in a place with no wifi or phone range.

No CD Drive. You can’t even load Audio books from a CD unless you also have a desktop mac or a Laptop to first load it onto then copy it across. This may be a problem as many titles are not available in the iTunes store but are available on CD. If you plug an Apple USB DVD player into your ipad with a lightning to USB adapter you just get an error saying ‘This accessory used too much power”.

No Power Supply with accessories. When you are using the iPad with an external add on such as the USB port there is no way to keep it charged.

No remote clicker. If you are using your iPad to display a keynote presentation, there is no way to hook up a bluetooth or USB clicker to it to control the slides.



iPads are great,  but if you’re thinking of REPLACING your laptop with an iPad, that will probably only work if:

(1) you still keep a desktop mac and just use your iPad for what it’s good at


(2) you really only want to check email, browse the web, play with photos and do other iPad type tasks.

iPads are great for: checking email, facebook, reading ebooks, surfing the web, FaceTime, watching movies at the gym, playing round with music apps, games and more.

They have lots of uses. But they don’t do everything a desktop or laptop could do so generally are not a replacement for one. iPads are a great complement to your desktop mac or laptop but probably not a replacement. An iPad is a great upgrade from an iPhone but probably a significant downgrade from a laptop.



One response to “Is an iPad a good replacement for Macbook?”

  1. John

    I regularly look at your site [about once a month] and have found it a very valuable resource.

    I’m waaaaaaaaaaaaay over fifty and my fingers are not yet dry or crinkly or stubby [your post 2.2.13]. I’m hoping 60 is the new 35. Here’s hoping.


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