Is the iPad Worth Its Price for Replacing Your PC?

Can the iPad replace a laptop and save you money?

iPad
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The iPad has remained the top-of-the-line tablet on the market, and with that title comes a top-of-the-line price tag. That price also seems to rise with each new model. However, each new generation also improves the computing power of the iPad, bringing it closer and closer to being a viable laptop replacement. 

But is there an advantage to replacing your laptop with an iPad, and is there a cost savings you can realize in doing so? After all, there are cheaper tablet alternatives out there, including some Android tablets available for less than $100, and a close competitor to the iPad is the Microsoft Surface.

As is typical with these kinds of technology questions, there isn't a quick-and-easy, one-size-fits-all answer; however, you can arrive at your own correct answer with the right information.

Limitations when moving from a laptop to an iPad

The iPad can easily perform most of the tasks we do on a PC. In some ways, it can even outperform a laptop. An iPad can be more comfortable to use while lounging on the couch, and it is much more portable than a desktop (and even many laptops). With an iPad, you can check email, update social media, take pictures, browse the web, play games, read books, stream TV shows and movies, listen to streaming radio, do your banking, write research papers, create visual art, make music—pretty much everything you can do with a laptop or even a desktop computer.

Where you begin to see limitations is with specific software needs. For example, if you are tied to a particular operating system, be it Windows or macOS, because the software you use is not available as an iPad app, that can easily make the decision for you in favor of sticking with a laptop.

However, things are changing in this regard. More and more companies are producing iPad app versions of their software products, and each incremental advancement in the iPad's processing power makes porting software products to the iOS platform more feasible. For example, the latest iPad Pro models boast impressive computing capability, and Adobe's line of resource-intensive graphic design and photo editing products now have app versions. These take full advantage of not only the processing power of the latest models but also the iPad's unique features and accessories, such as the Apple Pencil, to add more functionality to their software.

Saving money with apps on the iPad

There are a number of small ways the iPad can save you money, not the least of which is the relatively inexpensive cost of many apps when compared to software for the PC. The apps on the iPad tend to cost anywhere from a dollar to five dollars and can often do the same tasks it might take thirty to fifty dollars worth of software on your PC to accomplish.

This is especially true for games. Many new games on a console cost $60. The newest iPad Pro has a graphics processor that approaches the power of a console system, and many impressive games only cost a few dollars. However, the availability of major game releases can be limited, so hardcore gamers are not likely to abandon their consoles anytime soon. But for those whose gaming tastes run closer to casual games, arcade style games, and some Nintendo Switch types of games, the iPad can end up saving money, and even give you access to a greater range of games by not being limited to a single console system. 

Cord-cutting with the iPad

The iPad is also a great gateway for "cutting the cord," and leaving behind pricey traditional cable TV plans. The ability to stream TV shows and movies from services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and the number of cable and broadcast apps like the ABC and CBS, the iPad can be a great second screen whether you cut the cord or not.

Considering cheaper Android alternatives 

A tablet can end up saving you money in the long term in some ways. But you don't necessarily need an iPad to realize some of those savings. Android tablets have advanced significantly in recent years, though in many ways they are still playing catch-up to the iPad and Android still has its issues. For example, one of the biggest downsides of an Android tablet is the smaller number of apps that run on the tablet but are designed for a smartphone compared to the number of iPad apps that are designed to run natively on the iPad's bigger screen.

You'll want to consider performance as well. The entry-level iPad models can outperform many Android tablets. This means the tablet will ultimately last you longer before you are forced to upgrade. That super-cheap Android tablet may have you looking to upgrade after only a couple of years, whereas the iPad generally can perform well for several years.

This doesn't mean all Android tablets perform poorly, but when looking at more advanced Android tablets, you're also looking at the higher price tag as well. Then you have to consider if maybe it's worth making the smaller price jump to the iPad for the improved performance and app availability.

The gap between the two competing tablet systems is shrinking, though, so looking into the specifics of the iPad versus an Android tablet may be worth your while.

Finding iPad deals

There are ways to buy an iPad for cheaper than the retail price, such as buying a refurbished unit from Apple. The great thing about these tablets is that they are still covered by Apple's one-year warranty and can save you anywhere from twenty to seventy dollars.