iPad vs Macbook?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by One Love 1867, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. One Love 1867 macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2009
    Sheffield, UK
    Now, before I begin, I know the two are essentially different devices, and Steve wants us to buy iPads to sit between an iPhone and a Macbook, but is anyone else experiencing this or a similar pre-purchase dilema?

    Currently I own a Mac Mini desktop system and an iPhone, but have been in the market for a portable system to sit between the 2 for a while, as I could do with some more computing power on the road than my iPhone provides (as good as it is for very light, casual web browsing). I've pretty much ruled out netbooks on the basis that the better models are too expensive for what they are and I don't think I can deal with Windows anymore.. but now I'm stuck between the iPad and a Macbook.

    I'm very tempted by the iPad. I'm a sucker for "new" tech and I really am impressed with some of it's features and the portable tablet form factor. The only reservation I have about the iPad is typing. The reason I'm largely in the market for a portable computer is that I tend to do a fair bit of blogging and writing, and don't always get as much time as I'd like to do this at home. Don't get me wrong, I'm never going to be writing War and Peace, but I would like the option to type out larger articles and pieces without worrying about touch screen keyboards etc. To that end, a Macbook would be great, but they're heavier, clunkier and probably a good £300-£400 more expensive than the lower end iPads.

    I'm almost certain I'll end up with one or the other, but I'm trying to weigh up which would be better. If I buy an iPad, will I regret the lack of a traditional, physical keyboard when writing larger pieces? If I buy a Macbook, will I regret paying significantly more for a less portable, older product, and will I regret not being a part of the new tablet revolution from the offset?

    Has anybody else experienced a similar tussle and if so, what have you gone for? Are there any existing Macbook owners out there who are also buying an iPad, and if so what features are you buying the iPad to replace your Macbook for, and what features of the Macbook are you keeping?
  2. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Buy the ipad and an apple Bluetooth keyboard. Problem solved.
  3. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I have a Mac Mini used as a Home Theater PC mostly for watching Hulu. I get Netflix on our BluRay player. I have a Macbook down in a cold basement office. I have a netbook that ran Win XP for about 15 minutes that now runs Ubuntu. I am considering selling my netbook and getting an iPad.

    I don't like carrying my Macbook around but it is a lot easier to deal with than a Windows laptop because Apple put more thought into how much crap you need to drag along with it. The power brick is tiny by Dell/HP and other windows laptop standards. But still I'd rather carry around something smaller. I picked up an Acer Aspire One just over a year ago. I used it a lot at first but now I only use it when I'm going out and want a light weight web surfing/email/note taking machine. I'm confident I would like an iPad better for this purpose.

    You asked about getting an iPad instead of a Macbook. It depends. First of all, you can get an external keyboard either with the keyboard dock (which forces you to stand the screen in portrait orientation) or using a bluetooth keyboard (I'm pretty sure). Would I want to travel with an iPad and a bluetooth keyboard/mouse over a netbook? I think so.

    Then there's the whole walled-garden app store thing. If you want to run openoffice.org you are out of luck. If you want to run OS X software you are out of luck. All you get are iPhone apps and a few (to start with) iPad apps. I'm hoping Apple offers screen sharing for iPad. Then you could screen-share in to your Mac Mini from your iPad and it wouldn't matter that there isn't any way to run OS X apps on the Mini.

    The bottom line is it looks good for the iPad to be able to stand in for a Macbook but I would proceed with caution. In my case, when my Macbook AppleCare ends I will probably opt for a new Macbook Pro rather than fall back to only rely on an iPad and some desktop machine somewhere. If you're short on funds, I would give the iPad a try. Even now there are vnc apps available for iPhone. But bear in mind there is no multitasking. This means you might find you can't run an app that lets you use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse at the same time you are running a VNC (alternative to screen sharing) app. Be careful. As a stand alone device, an iPad is a poor substitute for a Macbook for some things but a fine substitute for things like iWork, email and browsing the web. YMMV but I would want some questions answered before I would consider dumping my Macbook for an iPad plus a Mac Mini.
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    The iPad vs. Macbook argument is one that really shouldn't be.

    The MacBook can do a lot more tasks then the ipad can. You need to ask yourself what uses do you envision and which device better suits those needs.

    The MacBook [Pro] is a fully functioning computer that can run a number of applications that just don't fit well within the iPad.

    Where as the iPad is a great device for light surfing (provided you don't visit sites that use flash), some basic document work and the ability to read a book or watch a movie.
  5. BruiserBear macrumors 6502a

    Jul 24, 2008
    I've been pondering the exact same purchase. iPad vs Macbook.

    I'm strongly leaning towards the iPad and have on pre-ordered. I just see the Macbook as being a lot more expensive and offering a lot of things I simply don't need. The iPad is much more in line with what I need in a smaller compute device around my house.

    I think buying the bluetooth keyboard is the simple solution if you plan on doing more typing with it.
  6. kevinkt macrumors 6502

    Mar 24, 2010
    If 3rd part company makes this Im happy

    If a 3rd party company comes out with a Bi-fold case that has a thin bluetooth keyboard then ill be happy and buy it.(prob buy it anyway LOL) ive been looking at flexible bluetooth keyboards and this type of case looks feasible. a company only has to bring the two things together and you got it. [​IMG]

    so i think if this comes out, then it could be a competitor to the macbook.
  7. wolfpackfan macrumors 68000

    Jun 10, 2007
    Cary, NC
    Well I've been in kind of the same situation. We have two computers in our home - I have a Mac mini and my wife has a very old Compaq laptop that runs Linux off a bulky external hard drive (the internal hard drive crashed many moons ago). I have been needing a portable device for a long time. We travel a good deal and I need it for when we go out of town. Last trip, I even disconnected my mini and took it with us. So it came down to buying 1) a netbook, 2) a laptop or 3) the iPad. I threw the netbook out immediately. I had previously bought an Asus last year but returned it after two weeks. It just didn't do what I wanted. Next I've looked at laptops, but I really have no wish to go back to Windows; so that just left MB or MBP. Frankly I have a real hard time spending $999 for any laptop including the MB. Even though I like the device that is just too much money. So all that leaves is the iPad. It will do about 80% of what I need to do. Specifically it won't run Quicken, which I use a lot. My plan is to get the iPad on April 3rd and let my wife have my Mac mini, but I'll continue to use it for Quicken (might check out VNC to do this). So the way I look at it, I had no choice in my situation. It was the iPad or nothing (and that wasn't an option as we have a number of trips planned over the next few years).
  8. One Love 1867 thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2009
    Sheffield, UK
    Cheers for the responses guys. I actually have a Bluetooth keyboard anyway as my Mini runs as a HTPC while I sit on the couch! I never contemplated using it with the iPad before but this actually sounds like a decent solution.

    As for the Macbook, if I was to buy one I think alot of it's potential power would be wasted on me. Other than some extended typing sessions, my other uses for a mobile computer would largely be media and web/email based, both of which the iPad appears to do well. I love Apples Macbook designs and functionality but, something tells me I would be paying extra just for the luxury of an attatched keyboard and a full OS X which I probably don't need.

    Hmmm! To be honest, if I know that I can type <1000 words with relative comfort, keyboard or touch screen, and also download and manipulate (basic crop/resize) an image, before uploading the whole thing to Wordpress on the iPad.. that would be great. If not, might have to be Macbook! Anyone got any clues to how feasible this would be? :)
  9. FlashHead macrumors regular

    Feb 22, 2010

    I have the advantage of knowing which days I will be taking more notes/typing more than others and can therefore bring along a bluetooth keyboard (they are very very light) when needed.

    I also know that I want a bigger portable screen than my iPod touch to take with me daily, but also don't need/want to carry around all the computing power/weight of my MacBook Pro.

    Depends on your usage, but the iPad + Bluetooth Keyboard is a perfect solution for me.
  10. MythicFrost macrumors 68040


    Mar 11, 2009
    I think the iPad + Bluetooth keyboard. Personally I think typing on the virtual keyboard will be awesome, but if not the bluetooth keyboard should get you through!

    Ahahah that made me laugh, only got 15 minutes of Windows on it :p
  11. One Love 1867 thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2009
    Sheffield, UK
    Me too actually. For the majority of typing in terms of forum posts and emails etc I've got no concerns about the iPad. As a bare minimum, I think the iPad will be better than the iPhone's keyboard in size alone, and I have no problems with typing on the iPhone..

    Nice to keep options open though incase the iPad gets a little crampy when doing longer bits :)
  12. zipa macrumors 65816

    Feb 19, 2010

    How does that work? You balance both the keyboard and the iPad on your lap? Hold the iPad in one hand and type with the other? Hold the iPad in both hands and peck the keyboard with your nose?
  13. yyy macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2007
    What do you plan to do with the MacBook? Would you use it for heavy apps and games? Do you need to type a lot? Do you usually run multiple applications in the background? Do you visit Flash-based sites?

    If the answer to these is "Yes" then buy a MacBook. Otherwise, you might find the iPad useful but I suggest to be familiar with its drawbacks before purchase.

    Just one important tip: don't buy something because you want to be a part of a new revolution - that's exactly what marketing people want you to do and not necessarily what's good for you. Besides, no one promises a tablet revolution - it's still just a concept that has never been proven to be useful.
  14. kernkraft macrumors 68020


    Jun 25, 2009
    I hate to say this, but the solution should be an Apple netbook. I never wanted a netbook and I don't need one. But I think that from what you describe, you do.

    The iPad and the official keyboard will be a joke to carry around. It will be more awkward and larger than a small and cheap netbook. Want to type on your lap? On uneven surfaces? In public? Frankly, that keyboard is the weakest link in Jobs' theory about the gap between a smartphone and a computer. For $600, you get a large and more powerful iPod Touch with a full-sized keyboard - well done, you stubborn old man, Mr. Jobs!

    You might need an iPad, if you wanted to take advantage of some iTunes apps. But if typing is so important, get a cheap netbook and sync through Google, MS Exchange or whatever is available. You can get an iPod Touch on top of it and you would still have more functions than with an iPad. It is annoying and it's a shame, but I think that is the reality.

    Or just get a MacBook.
  15. One Love 1867 thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2009
    Sheffield, UK
    This alot of what's troubling me. Even when I'm at home on my Mac Mini, my computer usage is generally pretty basic. I browse the web, I check my emails, I do typing/work, image manipulation (although very basic, no heavy duty Photoshopping or the like) and do some very light gaming (Football Manager 2010 only, not exactly the most power-hungry game at the best of times). Those are the extent of my uses while I'm at home, and in terms of light gaming at least I'm not particularly looking to replicate that with an iPad or Macbook..

    As for Flash, I genuinly don't believe it's an issue for me. Last time I checked those of us in the UK didn't have access to sites like Hulu anyway, and our alternatives over here such as BBC iPlayer have their own apps on the iPhone as it is. Put it this way, the lack of Flash has never been a problem for me on the iPhone. Infact I've barely ever noticed it's absence.

    I think this literally just comes down to the typing aspect of it. Is a physical keyboard worth £300 extra and the added weight of a Macbook? I'm not sure, but then again if I'm spending anything then I want to make sure it's right, and to that end £400 (estimate for the base model) for an iPad is still a waste of money if it doesn't do what I need it to.
  16. stewie1 macrumors member

    Feb 23, 2010
    I'm going back and forth on this as well... have an iMac at home as a shared computer. My Dell laptop is 4 years old and ready to be retired. Looking for a portable computing solution. Mostly for reading news/blogs/etc, but also for watching the occasional video when the TV has been commandeered by Walt Disney.

    I think I've narrowed it down to one of the following two options: buy an iPad today, and a MBP somewhere down the line, or just buy a MBA when the new ones are released.

    It seems that every day I change my mind. I think it's too early to make a decision because we don't really know details about the iPad yet. I would expect that it would have more functionality than my iPod Touch, but it's very possible that it won't (in which case I will be leaning to the MBA camp). We also don't know what the specs or pricing on the new Macbooks will be.

    Basically, too many uncertainties out there right now to make an informed decision. Hopefully by the end of April we will have some more clarity.
  17. robotkiller macrumors 6502


    Oct 25, 2009
    Unless you plan on doing productive work on this computer - ie office productivity, graphic design, photo/video editing, then the iPad will probably serve your purposes better and cheaper.

    I personally hate using a trackpad for web surfing, emails, etc. It's a clunky interface, in my opinion, and I'd much rather use a touchscreen for casual computing. It's more intuitive and natural, IMO.
  18. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    However if all you want to do is the things that the iPad can do, then it is a perfectly reasonable question. I was about to buy a MBA, however the iPad does everything that I wanted the MBA to do. It is also cheaper and lighter. Of course a macbook can do more than the iPad, but if you are not planning to do all the extra things, it is pointless for that person.
  19. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    As has been posted above - you need to understand what it is that you want and need from a capabilities standpoint.

    For me, the iPad will serve as my primary computer. I'm retiring both my MBP and Kindle2. I will retain my existing household iMac to continue to serve as a central storage hub for media and syncing (i.e. I don't use it for anything else).

    Based on my usage habits, wants and needs, I am very confident that the iPad will suit me *better* than would replacing my MBP with another laptop.

    Blogging about it too fwiw.
  20. One Love 1867 thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2009
    Sheffield, UK
    Ah yes, I've read abit of your blog before. Interesting read and I can't wait to see how you get on :)

    Am I right in assuming you'll be buying a launch iPad on April 3rd, then? Being in the UK there's going to be at least a month before I can get my hands on one.. I'll be keeping a keen eye on your blog to see how you're getting on with this! Will be very interesting to see how you're getting on on a day to day basis.
  21. dacapo macrumors 6502

    Jan 25, 2010

    I kinda agree with this. I don't think I'd want to carry and iPad + any other keyboard bluetooth or otherwise. Why carry more than one gadget? A reason that the iPhone is so successful is that it combines iPod functionality with the Phone (+ other apps, etc). The trend is toward convergence of multiple functionalities in one gadget, not the other way around!

    For me, it's going to come down to whether or not the virtual keyboard on the iPad cuts the mustard. So, while I contemplated about pre-ordering, I'm just going to wait and try it out in an Apple store after it comes out and then make my decision. If the virtual keyboard isn't up to snuff, I'll probably end up sticking with my netbook for now... Even if that means waiting a few weeks longer...ah... In the grand scheme of things, my opinion is that virtual keyboard usability will be the long-term deal-maker/breaker for this device for me.
  22. blackNBUK macrumors 6502a

    Feb 19, 2010
    It's annoying having to wait an extra month in the UK but at least we'll have some idea of what living with an iPad will be like before buying it. I'm sure by the time of the UK launch there will be loads of reviews, opinions and videos about how well the different typing options work.

    Have you considered getting an official case and using it in an "easel" style? For the small amounts of text that I'd want to write I think that this could work well.
  23. One Love 1867 thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2009
    Sheffield, UK
    Sorry for the grave digging boost but.. thought this might be interesting to get some feedback on now that people are actively using their iPads..
  24. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Aside from Apple's apps, the iPad is still primarily for consumption, not creation. Which do you need? Another option is to buy a slightly used Dell Mini 9 and hackintosh it to run OSX. Or get a used, first gen MacBook Air. Not only does it come with 64GB, which is as large a drive as the iPad comes with, but the only thing it really had issues with was Flash Video, which is something the iPad can't do.
  25. nStyle macrumors 65816

    Dec 6, 2009
    There is no change. Everything everyone has said here, is right.

    The MBP is more capable, no doubt.

    I am curious why anyone who would give up their MBP for an iPad even paid so much for a MBP to begin with?

    My reasoning for buying a MBP was for graphic design, photo editing, and just cause I wanted to try OS X. I fell in love. I USE my MBP. And actually, there are still a lot of things I need Windows for. For those that are selling theirs or not using theirs much because of an iPad, they obviously never used it or needed it.

    Also, obviously, the MBP's are in dire need of a refresh. They are way overpriced HARDWARE wise. Don't get me wrong, I bought one, and love it. As an owner, I think I am allowed to say they are still overpriced. It is, however, an amazing machine that does what I need and want it to do.

    I think you are better suited with a laptop, but not a MBP...Unless you just want it. You're not going to be able to quickly and easily resize a photo on the iPad, and you're sure as hell not going to be able to upload it to Wordpress (unless their is a WP app). But for what you do, why would you want to have to open several different apps at different times just to perform a simple task such as this?

    Here is my conclusion based on what I know, and based on everything you have said:

    The iPad is not for you. The MBP is not for you. A light laptop, netbook, is.

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