August 27, 2010 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Someone I know is getting separated. Should they get an iPad?

A close friend of mine is going through a divorce, and is right now finding a place to live. She asked me if I could help her looking for a cheap computer to buy, and after a bit of thinking I thought maybe she should get an iPad.

She wants a computer for email, youtube, facebook, creating word documents, and editing and uploading photos. Basically, she likes computers, but doesn't do anything serious/intensive. Also, she has only used Windows in her life. She isn't technologically illiterate, but she's older, and slower with computers, than me.

I'm wondering whether an iPad would work for her as her sole computer. For example, how would she get photos from her camera on to the iPad, edit them, and up to the net? Would she be enjoy using multitouch web browsing and apps likes Pages?

Also, will it be easy for her to set up the iPad with a wireless internet router?

Finally, is the iPad a relatively cheap computer, or am I missing something?

If you have any experience with iPads I'd love to hear about it. I'm going to go with her to a local Apple retailer when she gets in to town and we'll take a look.
posted by schmichael to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would recommend a refurbished low-end Macbook over an iPad.

Go to Apple.com, hit the store link, then scroll way down and hit refurbished Mac. Buy the cheapest laptop they have. Check back once in a while as they update with what's available if they don't have a low end Macbook.

I'm pretty sure you need a computer with iTunes to get most content onto an iPad. And you can't really type on one very well.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:13 AM on August 27, 2010

Seems like the main problem would be that it's not easy to print from an iPad yet. She'll need to be able to print something from a word processing program now and then, won't she?
posted by Ery at 9:13 AM on August 27, 2010

Netbooks are much cheaper and run standard programs. Nothing against the iPad, but it might not give her the flexibility she's used to. Downside is screen real estate, though.
posted by catlet at 9:17 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, she has only used Windows in her life. She isn't technologically illiterate, but she's older, and slower with computers, than me.

Only knows Windows and wants to be able to create word documents painlessly? Get her a cheap windows laptop or a netbook with a full-sized keyboard. She has bigger things on her mind than learning a new OS.

If you go the netbook route, she could be spending less than $300.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:18 AM on August 27, 2010 [12 favorites]

The iPad would be a terrible primary computer and wouldn't work for Word docs well. (Works with Pages but...)
posted by k8t at 9:28 AM on August 27, 2010

Photo uploading and editing would suck on the iPad.
posted by k8t at 9:29 AM on August 27, 2010

I am a dyed in the wool mac guy, and I would recommend an inexpensive pc over an iPad for what she wants to do.

/kicks self for even saying that!
posted by HuronBob at 9:35 AM on August 27, 2010

Yeah, ipad is not designed as a standalone primary computer.
posted by modernnomad at 9:40 AM on August 27, 2010

I think a netbook would be much better.
posted by amro at 9:43 AM on August 27, 2010

ipads are cool and all, but for a primary computer... no way. A cheap inexpensive netbook would be a much better option. I'm also a Mac fanatic but yeah, just go netbook if you're looking for cheap and simple. I'm pretty sure photo editing on an ipad is painful, if even possible.
posted by good day merlock at 9:45 AM on August 27, 2010

I'd probably say sub-$300 netbook as well, but wanted to add a couple of infonuggets

- All the features of an iPad can be used without even owning a computer, as long as you have them activate it at the Apple store before you leave with it.

- There is an accessory cable that lets you download photos from your camera directly to the iPad, and there are a number of robust 3rd-party apps for photo editing.

- There is also a bluetooth keyboard/dock available from Apple but it's pricey.

- As an iPad owner I would not recommend it for hardcore document editing. It's decent for light document editing/creation though, and I'd recommend the program Documents2Go for this (lets you view/edit MS Office docs)

- The single worst thing about it for me is the lack of flash. If it's not Youtube, you can write off the idea of viewing any web video. Also the basic functionality of many sites will not work. There is a jailbreak Flash solution, but it's so rough presently that it's useless. I'm seriously tempted to sell my iPad due to its lousy web browsing capabilities.
posted by mattholomew at 9:53 AM on August 27, 2010

Nthing the netbook suggestions. The iPad is undoubtedly a more fun option, but for meeting needs practicality the netbook is going to win hands down.
posted by quin at 10:09 AM on August 27, 2010

What's the benefit to getting her something other than a cheap-ass desktop? When she asked for your help in finding a "cheap computer," I'm pretty sure that's what she meant.

If she's not technologically savvy, she most likely defines "computer" as "desktop or laptop running Windows." Recommending anything else will just confuse her, and she's already got enough of that in her life right now.

Unless she specifically wants mobility, I'd recommend a desktop. You can get a lot more bang for your buck with a desktop. And considering she's probably going to hang onto it for a decade or more (as non-technologically-savvy people generally do), finding her the best desktop $500 can buy is the best favor you can do for her.
posted by ErikaB at 11:01 AM on August 27, 2010

Thanks everybody. I wanted some help thinking out the feasibility of an iPad as a main computer, and I got it.
posted by schmichael at 11:09 AM on August 27, 2010

Get her a refurbished netbook. You can find them for as low as $199.
posted by WizKid at 11:25 AM on August 27, 2010

Yeah, ipad is not designed as a standalone primary computer.--modernnomad

This is Apple's official stance. If you go to an Apple store and ask them, they'll give you a long lecture about this.

Seems short-sighted on Apple's part. The upcoming standalone Android pad-type computers are going to eat them for breakfast.
posted by eye of newt at 11:34 AM on August 29, 2010

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