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Computers

How to Successfully Replace a Laptop With an iPad

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What You'll Be Creating

Tablets have revolutionised the way we work, and Apple’s iPad Pro is now more powerful than many entry-level laptops, not to mention far more intuitive to use.

In this tutorial, I'll explain the benefits of replacing a laptop with an iPad, for the average computer user, and suggest both hardware and software to help the transition run smoothly.

Using an iPad Exclusively 

Admittedly, an iPad isn't flexible enough to enable power users like graphic designers, coders and similar to ditch their laptops, Most people, however, will find an iPad more than capable for their needs and a lot easier to use, too. 

Here's three reasons why using an iPad exclusively makes sense for the average user.

1. Portability 

Due to its lightweight and compact design, an iPad is extremely portable. It can accompany you anywhere and everywhere you need to go with little hassle.

Weighing just 298.8 grammes, or 0.65 pound, and as thin as a pencil, the iPad mini 4 is Apple’s most compact iPad model, while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro—Apple’s largest iPad—weighs 677 grammes (1.49 pounds).

The 12.9-inch Pro iPad is still much lighter than the MacBook at 920 grammes (2.03 pounds).

2. Cost

Depending on the model you buy, an iPad can work out cheaper than a laptop of the same specification. Currently, an iPad Pro is more powerful than an entry-level MacBook, and can even outperform a MacBook Pro on a surprising number of tasks, but at a much lower price.

Despite this, there’s no need to rush out and buy an iPad Pro: a regular iPad is perfectly capable of handling the average person’s computing requirements—I use an iPad Air exclusively, in fact, for both business and personal use.

Apple also sells refurbished iPads, which come with the same one-year Apple warranty as a new iPad. If you're on a tight budget, then a refurbished model will save you roughly 15% of the cost of a brand new iPad, which can be as much as £170, depending on which model you choose.

You may also find that some apps are cheaper than their computer counterpart, too. To-do list app Things 3, for example, costs £19.99 for iOS, but £48.99 for the Mac version, which is significantly more expensive for what is essentially the same app.

iOS App Store
Some apps are cheaper than their computer counterpart

3. Ease of Use 

Not only is an iPad simple to use, it’s also easy to run and maintain. There’s no need to install drivers, scan for viruses, defragment drives and all that malarkey. 

It just works.

In just a few taps, you can access every feature the iPad has to offer, laid out simply, right in front of you. Even young children can navigate their way around an iPad with ease, which is a testament to the iPad’s user-friendly interface.

Hardware

Once you’ve decided to take the leap from laptop to iPad, there are a few accessories and apps that will help your transition run smoothly. 

I must stress, however, that each item featured below is optional, and you can use an iPad just fine as is.

Case

Protect an iPad from the perils of everyday use with a heavy-duty case.

Otterbox’s Defender series provides protection against drops, scratches and dust, and boasts a high-impact polycarbonate shell, durable silicone slipcover and a built-in screen protector.

Griffin’s Survivor series is designed and tested to meet or exceed US Department of Defence Standard 810F. 

Like Otterbox’s Defender, the Survivor is made up of a shatter-proof polycarbonate frame clad in shock-absorbing silicone with a built-in screen protector. Both are available for all iPad models.

Alternatively, if you prefer something a little less bulky, Apple's Smart Cover provides good protection against knocks and drops, and is available in a variety of colours that match other Apple accessories.

Keyboard

A keyboard can make all the difference when transitioning from a laptop to an iPad. 

Apple's Smart Keyboard is designed for both the 10.5‑inch and 12.9‑inch iPad Pro, and also serves as a screen protector when not in use. Apple also manufactures the Magic Keyboard, which is compatible with all iPad models running iOS 9.1 or later.

Third-party keyboards, such as the Logitech Keys-to-Go Ultra Slim Keyboard, are generally cheaper than Apple-branded keyboards, but still offer the same functionality at a fraction of the price.

Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro
Apple's Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro

USB Adapter

With a USB adapter, you can easily download photographs from a digital camera to an iPad, and share them with family and friends

Apple's Lightning to USB Camera Adapter is compatible with all iPad models running iOS 9 or later, and a must-have for budding photographers.

Charger

Although all current iPad models are rated for up to ten hours battery life when surfing the web on Wi‑Fi, watching video or listening to music, an external battery pack can be a useful addition to your arsenal.

Belkin ColourMatch Charge Kit includes an external battery, car charger, home charger, and lightning cable, and is colour-matched to your iPad, while mophie power station mini Universal Battery provides hours of additional battery life.

Belkin ColourMatch Charge Kit
Belkin's ColourMatch Charge Kit is ideal for charging your iPad on the go

Software

Boasting two million-plus apps, the App Store is a treasure trove of software, but it can be difficult to know where to start, and, indeed, which apps to download to replace the programmes you're accustomed to on a laptop. Here are a few to get you started.

Office Suite

Apple’s iWork is an office suite of free apps, comprising Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Pages is a word processing app, while Numbers and Keynote are spreadsheet and presentation apps, respectively.

Alternatively, Google also offer a similar suite of free apps: Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, as do Microsoft with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Photo & Video Editing

Due to the iPad's simplistic nature, editing photos and videos does not require any expert knowledge.

While the default Photos app does offer some editing functionality, I highly recommend Adobe Photoshop Express for general image editing, closely followed by Snapseed.

Filter-wise, VSCO offers a wide range of filters to make your photos pop, as does Afterlight and its successor Afterlight 2.

iMovie is the best bet for editing video on an iPad. It’s free, easy to use, and can produce high quality home movies in minutes.

VSCO photo editing app
Edit photos with VSCO

Productivity 

Wunderlist is the most popular free to-do list app in the App Store, but if you're after something slightly more powerful, Things 3 comes highly recommended.

For general note taking, Evernote takes some beating, and offers more flexibility than the iPad's default Notes app, while Fantastical 2 is an excellent replacement for the Calendar app.

Gaming

If you’re a hardcore PC gamer, then opting to replace your computer or laptop with an iPad probably isn’t the wisest decision to make. Casual gamers, however, will enjoy the sheer scope of choice the App Store has to offer, and many games cost less than £5 to buy, or are free to play.

Take match-three puzzle game Candy Crush Saga, for example. Candy Crush Saga is free to download and play, but the app offers a variety of optional paid extras, such as unlimited lives and boosters, to enhance gaming experience.

Sandbox construction game Minecraft is currently the most popular paid game in the App Store, costing just £4.99, as opposed to £17.95 for the computer version. 

Candy Crush Saga
Candy Crush Saga is just one of the App Store's many free games

Music & Video

Streaming music and video is where an iPad truly excels, as its portability means you can easily listen to music or watch a movie on the go, as long as you have an internet connection.

Freemium app Netflix is jam-packed with movies, TV shows and documentaries, while users based in the USA and Japan can enjoy the many TV shows Hulu has to offer, as well as watch live TV.

Amazon Prime Video is another great streaming service, and free, too, if you’re an Amazon Prime customer.

Music-wise, Spotify is free to use, albeit ad-supported, and has an extensive catalogue of 30 million-plus songs, while Apple’s own subscription-based service Apple Music allows you to stream music to other Apple devices such as the HomePod.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, I've explained the benefits of replacing a laptop with an iPad for the average computer user, and suggested both hardware and software to help your transition run smoothly.

If you're still struggling to decide which iPad to buy, check out my guide on how to choose the best iPad for you.

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