iPad vs low-end Windows laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by sigamy, Nov 30, 2014.

  1. sigamy macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2003
    NJ USA
    Looking for advice. My wife needs to use Excel to create lists, work schedules and basic inventory lists. Besides Excel she does basic surfing, email, Netflix.

    I've seen a number of $199-$250 Windows 8.1 laptops and a few $250-$299 tablet/laptop machines. Here are some examples:



    The fact that I can be all in for under $300 is very appealing. For iPad, I would get her an Air plus a keyboard case. I'm looking at $550 at least. I'm also concerned about using Excel on the iPad. I think she would miss a mouse.

    So, what would you recommend?
  2. Traverse macrumors 604


    Mar 11, 2013
    As her only computer I would go with the cheap Windows PC. The iPad has limited support for keyboards and no support for mice. Using Excel on the iPad can be very tedious. Plus, some web-based things simply won't work on the iPad.

    The iPad is a supplement to, not a replacement for, a full computer except in the most basic usage cases.

    EDIT: also note that the Office versions for the iPad are limited in functionality unless you buy the subscription service (though the free access is fine for very basic use) and Office for iPad in general is a "mobile" version of Office. It isn't nearly as powerful as the full version on Windows or even on the crappy Mac version.
  3. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Excel on the iPad is great for occasional spreadsheet updating and editing, but it would be frustrating and less efficient to use than a computer for extensive spreadsheet work. For surfing, email and Netflix, it would be a breeze.
  4. Yester5 macrumors regular


    Nov 26, 2009
    Pittsburgh, PA
    If your wife doesn't mind dealing with malware, spyware, viruses, updates that take forever to install...after multiple restarts, lockups, freezes, blue screens and just the general craziness of Windows, esp 8.1, then the price will win out.
    Usability has many faces;)
    I have had no problems using Excel or Numbers on my iPad
  5. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
  6. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    Those low end laptops don't have the quality or durability of business class laptops. They are also loaded with sample bloat ware to help reduce the price. However, the comments about using Excel on an iPad are dead on. Very hard to do any serious work.
  7. tdale macrumors 65816

    Aug 11, 2013
    Christchurch, N.Z.
    LOL. If you wish to build a poorly setup driver wise laptop, run no AV, no, it still wouldn't be as bad as you make out. Ive used Winders for years, issues are rare. Moved to OS X recently, enjoying that. Im not enjoying the daily listings/threads/articles of bugs in iOS 8 though, that is getting way over the top. Poor


    A laptop and an iPad are not a comparison. Get a laptop, Windows one, or hunt for a pre owned older MBP or MBA. The use case shows a full OS is better. yes you can do Excel etc on an iPad, but I could also take a 3 door shopping trolley skiing, but I'd rather not put up with that.
  8. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Does she need EXcel??

    If she is just doing personal stuff them the ipad with numbers on it could well be a simpler and easier to use option than all the countless stuff in excel that the home user doesn't need. If of course it is huge spreadsheets for work or study it's a diferent matter entirely.

    Of course if she is always going to have wifi connection then a chromebook could be the perfect answer using all of googles free tools online to do everything and the huge cloud storage to allow access from any device.
  9. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I use my iPads 90% of the time. If she only does basic excel stuff, then an iPad will be much, much better.
  10. sigamy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2003
    NJ USA
    Thanks for the replies.

    She needs to use Excel. It is required by her work. She works for a small business where no one is computer savvy. She shares files with others and it has to be Excel. I tried this past year to move them to Google Docs but it just didn't fly.

    So, no Chromebook and no Apple Numbers. Even if these apps can read/write Excel files, it is not worth the pain when one file's formatting gets messed up. These are the types of people who will say, "see, I told you we use Excel only".

    So, I need "native" Excel.

    I'm still sleeping on it. I'm an Apple guy and we are mostly an Apple house but I think one of the convertible Windows 8.1 machines is the way to go. 80% of the time she can use it as a tablet. I'm sure it will do fine on surfing, Netflix, Facebook. Then 20% of the time she can attache the keyboard and have standard Excel with keyboard and mouse.
  11. RUGERMAN macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2010

    You might take a look at used MBPs, I have a 4 yr old 13" MBP that works great with what you are talking about. I use Excel all the time and not the least bit slow.
  12. erickj macrumors regular

    May 9, 2008
    Stay with Apple products

    We debated the same thing at work, doing similar functions, and bought a cheap laptop. And we have now gone through 3 of those 'cheap' Windows laptops in less than 2 years. They are just complete garbage, I mean total freaking garbage. I could go into a long list of items of problems but if you can imagine it, we've been through it all. Reformats, virus stuff, pop-up hell, won't turn on, won't turn off, won't boot up today, but did yesterday, etc. etc. Also, think about build quality. On week 2 one of them fell, yes, our error, off a chair 2 ft off the ground. It was closed and the screen shattered. That was $75 to fix and replace via DIY. I've dropped my iPads, my rmbp, my iPhone (countless times) and other than a corner scuff, I've never had anything actually break or it have an effect on performance. You look at one of those cheap windows machines funny and it's going to give you attitude.

    Suffice to say, we could have bought a refurbished Air or rmbp or even souped up iPad with mouse and keyboard and had 100% better results and still been using it without problems. The hassle you have to go through and the time you spend trying to fix those cheap laptops just isn't worth the lower price. Look a the refurbished Apple store, I'm sure you can find something there more in your budget range.
  13. imaccooper macrumors regular


    May 29, 2014
    North Carolina
    I love my iPad and use it constantly. I have and use office 365 and they have done a great job with designing apps to work well with the touchscreen. With that said, I wouldn't want to do anything to an excel spreadsheet except maybe change a number or two. While it can be done, creating or formatting spreadsheets is a small pain without the help of a mouse. Therefore, unless she has personally went to a store and tried excel on a iPad (which I always suggest) and liked it, then I wouldn't recommend getting it for that particular use.

    That leaves you with a laptop of some kind. I am a mac guy and if cost allowed you then I would also suggest that you grab a macbook air or pro used. As many others have essentially stated, cheap laptops are cheap because they are made cheap with cheap parts and designed to sell to people who only care about things being cheap. For that and many other reasons, I would recommend avoiding most of these ultra cheap laptops.

    My suggestion, figure out exactly how much you can spend and then start looking around. If you were already looking at spending $500 or so for an iPad then you are already in the realm of decent laptops which is where I think she will be happy. You should be able to pick up a used macbook for that money or a quality built windows machine if that is what you want.

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