Web Technology

The iPad Dilemma

Up until very recently, I was seriously considering getting a Macbook. I have a desktop PC that covers my day-to-day tasks, but I want something I can use from my couch, and in particular I’ve started to really miss OSX (I used an iBook as my primary machine up until more recently than I’m willing to admit).

Then Apple releases the iPad, which promises to do everything I was planning to use my Macbook for at nearly 1/3 the price. Now what? Do I keep eying the Macbook or start counting the days until the iPad hits stores? I’m completely torn.

First let’s get a few things out of the way. I don’t want the 3G version of the iPad. I have enough monthly bills already, and my iPhone covers all my 3G needs. I’m also not the kind of person that needs much space, so the low-end iPad suits me just fine. And I don’t want a Macbook Pro; a regular Macbook is easily enough power for me, though I would probably take the ram upgrade for an extra $100. With that in mind, we’re looking at $500 for the iPad vs $1200 for the Macbook.

I want something I can use while sitting on my couch, and all it has to support is writing blog posts and your standard email/browsing activities. Both machines are perfectly capable of performing these tasks, and I’m already fluent in both OSX variants from owning an iBook and an iPhone.

Now for the interesting part: the advantages each device offers.

Advantages of the iPad:

  • It’s significantly less expensive, as we’ve already discussed.
  • You can turn it sideways. That may sound ridiculous, but I much prefer web browsing on a screen with more height than width.
  • I love the form factor. Watching the video on Apple’s website… It doesn’t look like he’s holding a tablet and running a browser; it looks like he’s holding a browser. This level of UX is absolutely a step above anything else on the market, Macbook included.
  • It has substantially more novelty, and all kinds of potential that we don’t know about yet.

Advantages of the Macbook:

  • It’s a well-established line. You know exactly what you’re getting, and how awesome it is.
  • Multitasking. I’d like to be able to have a browser open at the same time as Twitter and an IM client.
  • The platform is more open. I like using browsers other than Safari, running commands in Terminal, and hacking together useful AppleScripts.
  • What if I want to do some iPhone development? I’d need a Macbook, unless Apple releases some sort of iPhone-specific XCode for iPad (and who’s to say they won’t?)

It’s a mess. There are so many differences, but the advantages of each individual device are so appealing that I can’t make up my mind. Worst of all, I’ll probably regret either decision — if I go with the Macbook, I’ll sigh longingly every time I see an iPad; if I go with the iPad, I’ll curse every time it can’t do something that the Macbook can. I’m still undecided, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

What’s your take?

Should I go with the iPad or the Macbook? Are you in a similar position?

6 replies on “The iPad Dilemma”

No Flash support is the killer for me. Combine that with the lack of multitasking and I personally couldn’t see myself really using the iPad that much.

if sideways browsing is so important to you i’ll write you an AIR app that has a sideways browser.

Macbooks are awesome, the iPad is a joke. what if you want to post a flash video on your blog? you can’t even get the embed code on an iPad in the special youtube app, let alone having to save your blog post, close the browser, open the youtube app, hope the video has been converted to the iPad format, copy, go back to the browser, etc. etc. When Google’s contract with Apple is over I doubt youtube will still be available on the i anything. Then what. you’re stuck with html 5 and 2 websites that might implement it over the next 3 years.

You’ll regret getting an iPad every single day.

if you’re gonna do a lot of typing, get the macbook.

otherwise, if you just want a casual use machine, get the ipad. I’ve had flash disabled on every machine I use forever now and its never bothered me (click2flash is the hero of the common man).

but if you plan on doing any actual *work*, you’ll want the macbook.

yaov, you actually make some really good points; the idea of getting a post from Pages into WordPress to upload, then previewing in Safari would be a significant amount of closing/opening and copy/paste. I think Oren’s right that the Macbook is probably a much better decision for getting anything significant done.

My needs were more complex than I thought; at this point the Macbook is looking like a clear winner.

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