What if your next laptop is the iPad?

If you are a student, this is for you!

At 9am everyday, the shutters go up in an IT shop in Kochi, Kerala. The shiny laptops on display, the sounds of PC’s booting up, ceiling fans, keyboards clicking, printers turning on. Promoters from various brands show up, some nervous because they couldn’t achieve the week’s target in selling laptops.

Around 8000 laptops are sold in this town every month. 90% of them under 30,000 INR. And most of them are sold to students who use it for their day to day activities.

Because of the recent Covid19 pandemic, these numbers are expected to double in the coming months due to physical classes being canceled and lectures being held online. The students have no other option but to get a new one or upgrade their 3–4 year laptop which takes ages to even boot up. Computer is now a necessity than a luxury. Hard times.

The main goal of this article is to help you understand that there is an alternative to a laptop that you may not have considered in the past. Together let’s explore the Pro’s and Con’s of getting an iPad instead of your next laptop.

Let’s do this!

This is one of the main component to consider. So we have set the budget at INR 30,000 ($395).

The best processor you can get is an 8th GEN i3 (10th gen will go out of budget {close to 36,000}). Let’s compare that to the iPad’s A10 fusion.

The best comparison I could find was Intel Core i5 vs Apple A10 fusion. There is absolutely no comparison between an i3 and A10 fusion. But for this article sake lets compare them.

A small Google search can reveal a lot. I found a site called versus.com which did a comparison of these two and came to a conclusion that the i3 is no match for the A10 fusion. If at all there is a comparison, it’s to an i5 which is clearly not in our budget. I just don’t want to be extremely one sided on this but as per my understanding the A10 is ARM architecture vs i3 being x86. Applications behave differently on both and technically you can’t have a fair comparison between the two but scores matter here. Real-time performance matters. So you have to take this at face value just because of the real time performance. This also includes the HDD vs Flash memory performance. Not just the processor. We will get to that in a bit.

You already know how notoriously slow i3 is when paired with an HDD. As time goes, it gets more useless. Boot up takes minutes, your applications load 2x slower than when you got the laptop.

The 2020 iPad works out of the box. Powers on when you want it. Instantly. There is no shutdown or wait times. This is big if you are a student.

Paired with the keyboard case, the iPad gives serious competition to any laptop out there

There is a small problem with basic laptops. You might think that you’ll get a 13” / 14” inch at this price. Sadly that’s not true. Every laptop in this budget is 15” unfortunately. 13” laptops start at 33–35k INR. Smaller laptops are costlier. This is not the case with the iPad. You get a 10.2” RETINA display that’s top notch vs the 15” LCD displays that has been around forever. There is absolutely no competition here too. You can see individual pixels on the laptop. Also a point to be noted (very obvious) is that iPad has a touchscreen whereas a touchscreen laptop begins at around 46,000 INR. And you know how bad windows touch screen is when interacting with Windows UI elements. There is always that clunky keyboard sticking out which you can’t get out of they way.

iPad’s display is gorgeous. There is a bit of fun factor here too. Watching videos and video calls are definitely more comfortable on the iPad as you can literally take it anywhere. Bed, sofa, washroom?

Taking notes is a breeze

Can you think of taking your laptop out without taking the charger along with you? i3 laptops typically come with 3–4 hours of usable juice. I’m talking again about the realtime use. Not the claimed 6–7 hours. In my entire time with any windows laptop, I haven’t got anything more than 5 hours and the best windows laptop that gave me close to 5–6 hours was the Microsoft Surface Pro (starts at 85,000 INR).

Again the iPad is phenomenal when it comes to battery life. Not just battery but the standby time. You leave an iPad at 77% overnight, you’ll wake up to 77% in the morning. That’s how much the power saving is. Try doing this on a windows laptop. You’ll be searching for that bulky charger in the morning.

I never want to see this again

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about windows updates? Yea that feeling of uncertainty. Windows updates are still time consuming in 2020. They take up ages depending on your I/O speed. On i3 it’s a nightmare. But you have to appreciate the fact that Microsoft has prompts now as to when you can schedule an update. I’ll give that to them. It’s less unexpected as before.

On the other hand, iOS updates are smooth, happens in the background and you can chose to install them later or when your device is sleeping say early in the morning.

The shelf life of an iPad is far better than a windows laptop. With each revision of Windows (Once in 4 years), it will demand the latest generation of Intel/AMD processors. So you can realistically use an i3 laptop for a year or two, maybe 3 depending on your patience level. I still know people who use their First generation iPad Air and Mini running the latest iOS (now iPadOS). Anyone missing Windows XP?

Let’s face it. You are not going to use a device just for the intended use. You might want to realistically watch a movie or listen to some music. The speakers that come with a basic laptop that you just spent 30,000 INR is well, meh! It’s unusable. Your phone probably has a better speaker. That VLC volume hack works for like 2 months. After that either you’ll hear random noises at night or you’ll laptop speaker will be fried.

For me it’s practically difficult to carry around a laptop even at home. It just needs a place to rest and using it on your stomach is just impractical. You can use the iPad when and where you want, however you want it. It’s great once you get used to that level of comfort.

Work, study, play!

Windows laptops aren’t the old school hackable systems anymore. It’s really secure. But the HDD that comes with it isn’t. Your data can always be recovered using simple tools available just with a Google Search and that’s something to worry about.

It’s much much harder to do that on an iPad. Actually it’s close to impossible. Whatever photos, work files, your project that you have on the iPad are extremely secure. Windows laptops at this budget comes with just a basic password lock. The iPad on the other hand comes with a trustable TouchID + a password option. And it’s instantaneous.

Applications

I would say this is the right time to make the move. Adobe (Pronounced AA-DOH-BEE) applications for example are now cheap (some are completely free) when compared to their Windows counterparts. Plus you really can’t runs any of these apps on your Laptop with no graphics support in this budget.

iPad runs these apps almost as good as on any higher end iPad’s due to how iOS is optimised. Sure it’ll take longer to render than on an iPad Pro but the UX experience is almost identical.

So if you’re a designer who’s looking to get a high end PC, you can literally go for the iPad Pro with the A12Z Bionic processor which currently has the fastest GPU in a tablet.

AutoDesk has fully functional apps too, in case you’re doing architecture. A ported version of Tally (limited features as of now) is also available on the AppStore.

Microsoft office Suite is fully available on the iPad along with other apps that you use like Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, Google Meet etc. On top of that Apple has it’s own version of the Office Suite (Keynote, Pages and Numbers) which is also worth checking out. Make your next presentation standout.

Coding: iPad doesn’t support any kind of serious coding yet, but there are apps like iSH Shell which supports Busybox, Dash and even Python3.

Install using TestFlight app
Python3 running on the iPad

File system

I always want total control of my files. iOS was limited when it came to that 2 years back. Things have totally changed after iPadOS 13. You now have a dedicated file system, downloads on safari so that you can download anything like a PC, share it anywhere, email, etc. You can even connect a pen drive and move things around. Anything you can do on a windows PC, you can do it on the iPad now. Yes.

The Mouse

You might have heard this. iPad now supports the mouse. Not the wired on, a Bluetooth mouse of course. It’s also important to note that it doesn’t support the traditional BT mouse with a dongle. It supports only a full BT mouse that has the technology in-built. It’s fairly easy to find that for under 1.5k and fits perfectly with your 30,000 budget. Apple Pencil (first generation) is also supported in case you’re into designing and want to skip using the mouse.

”And Oh, did I mention that you don’t need a big backpack to carry your stuff around anymore? For some that’s a killer feature!”

Thanks for reading

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