iPads and e-Readers and Laptops, Oh My! Computing has become a mobile luxury. First, there was Wifi, which enabled us to surf the web on our laptops at the local coffee shop. Then came smartphones, which allow us to stay connected almost anywhere. This year, mobile computing took another leap forward with the release of the iPad and more sophisticated e-readers. As the holiday season approaches, the top three “most wanted” electronic devices according to a Consumer Electronics Report are:
You might be considering one of these as a holiday gift, but aren’t sure which one’s right for you. Here are three questions to ask yourself when considering your portable purchase:
What are you going to use it for?
Just Reading (Books, Newspapers, and Blogs). An e-reader would be your best bet. If you just want to read books, newspapers, and maybe do some light internet surfing, there is a big selection of affordable e-readers for you to choose from. Read reviews of the newest e-readers here.
Reading, Surfing the Internet, Movies, Games, Shopping and Email. The iPad wins here. If you want to consume (rather than create) a lot of information, the iPad is a great choice. It is a great travel companion. You can use it to read books, listen to music and watch movies. You can also surf the web, take notes in meetings and answer emails. This is just the tip of the iceberg considering that the iPad takes advantage of almost all of the 150,000+ Apps available in the Apple App Store. Also keep in mind that there are other tablet devices that have come out or will come out soon. Read a comparison review of the iPad, Galaxy Tab (Android) and PlayBook (BlackBerry).
A Full-Time Computer (Creating Elaborate Documents, Spreadsheets, Video Chatting, Etc.) If you’re looking for a full-time computer for work and/or home use, you should probably get a laptop. Even though the iPad could probably do about 80% of the things you need it to do, you will grind your teeth wishing for that remaining 20%. If you need to create spreadsheets or write and edit long documents, you will need a fully functional computer. At this point in time, the iPad is not a substitute for a laptop or desktop computer.
Where are you going to use it?
Just at home or work. Depending on your answer to the first question, any of the three devices could work for you. The iPad has a Wifi-only version that is much cheaper (starting at $499) than its Wifi + 3G option. For the most part, as long as you have a wireless connection in your home and/or office, any of the devices would work fine.
Everywhere! Like I said before, the iPad is a great travel companion. However, if you want to use your iPad “everywhere” you will need to purchase the Wifi + 3G version (starting at $629). Then, you will pay a monthly fee ($14.99 or $25 depending on how much data you use) to use AT&T’s 3G network. One important thing to note is that there is no contract for the 3G service. You pay by the month and can cancel at any time. Some e-readers, like Amazon’s Kindle, also use a cellular connection, and you don’t have to pay a monthly fee.
What is your budget?
E-reader and some lower level laptops.
iPad and mid-level laptops.
And if you haven’t been a good boy or girl this year, you might end up with a laptop like this one (picked up during our recycling drive):