Air vs. iPad
May 19, 2011 7:10 PM   Subscribe

Is there any reason to purchase an iPad if I own a MacBook Air

I use a MacBook Air (new 11") for casual surfing and home use (I have a MacBook Pro for work).

I've been tempted by the new iPad, but, as of this point, I can't determine that there is any advantage over the Air, or any function that the Air can't provide (other than video conversations, I know the new iPad has two cameras).

Convince me to buy an iPad, or show me why I don't have a need for one.
posted by tomswift to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
By its very design you can use it in ways and places that a laptop—no matter how slight—cannot be used. If you're interested, why not buy—chances are you'll love it, but if not, you have 14 days to return and get your money back (if you get it from an apple retail store).
posted by oxford blue at 7:12 PM on May 19, 2011

The App Store? The one for iPhone and iPad?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:21 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

CPB... there's an App store for Macs now as well. Granted not the same apps, but just as easy to purchase/download.
posted by tomswift at 7:24 PM on May 19, 2011

My house has an Air and an iPad and we hate the iPad. Never turn it on. Don't find it of interest at all--if I want to read books, I'm happier doing that on my iPhone. If I want to read yesterday's news on one of the apps, I'll buy a paper. (If I want to read current news, I'll do it on the laptop.) If I want to, you know, compute, I'll do it on the laptop. If I want to play games, the iPhone scale seems great to me. The iPad has just never felt right to me. N.B. We are pretty much a minority opinion! People LOVE their iPads. And I really don't get it.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:25 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Words With Friends
posted by unliteral at 7:27 PM on May 19, 2011

I am using Procreate on mine as a digital sketchpad and love it. I tried all the other drawing apps and found them lacking in one way or another.

That's really about the only use it serves that couldn't be addressed by a MacBook Air. Unless you have the cash, I wouldn't bother.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:28 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

My SO and I share a MBP and an iPad; I have an iPod Touch and he has an iPhone. I think each one of these devices has its distinct uses, and I love each one. I really enjoy reading magazines on the iPad, and certain apps (like cookbooks and full-screen games) just aren't the same on the iPhone / iPod touch. (We also have a Kindle, which is great for books... and now it sounds like we're very gadgety...)
That being said, if you have the itch to try an iPad, and can afford it, why not buy it and return it if you don't use it? I can understand that it's not for everyone. For me, though, it's very distinct from a laptop or from an iPhone.
posted by OLechat at 7:29 PM on May 19, 2011

Laptop & tablet household here. The tablet only gets used early in the morning or late at night in bed for reading the news. Other than that it tends to replace magazines in the bathroom whenever the smartphones happen to be in another room. I was looking forward to using it for recipes, but it's hugely inconvenient as it doesn't have a support without a case, and you can't really manipulate it with wet hands (my MPB keyboard handles life in the kitchen just fine). For reading, get a Kindle. The iPad doesn't even begin to compare as far as books are concerned.
posted by halogen at 7:33 PM on May 19, 2011

If you're interested in the sort of apps mentioned in this thread, you should get an iPad, if you can afford one.

It is a completely different experience from using a laptop computer.
posted by ignignokt at 7:40 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a MacBook Air 11" and an iPad 2 (previously owned the original iPad). I use my iPad WAY more. I'm not so much a content producer as I am a content consumer when it comes to technology, and thats the real difference, I'd say. Browsing the web, Google Reader, Reading--all of this I find much easier and more casual on the iPad.

As far as people saying you can do all that on the iPhone, yeah sure, if you don't actually read anything. I feel very sorry for anyone who reads entire books or even long articles on their phones. Don't get me wrong, I do occasionally do that, but only when it'd be impossible to use my iPad (out of the house, basically).

So to the original point, if you like using your computer mostly for making things and rarely if ever feel the need to do a lot of consuming, you don't "need" an iPad. Otherwise I think you should try it out
posted by Patbon at 8:00 PM on May 19, 2011

I got my iPad, wonder how it was going to fit in to the mix. After all, I had a computer in the kitchen, a lap top in my book bag and an iPhone in my pocket. I was not sure I would ever use the thing. A year or more has gone by. Now I use the iPad every morning as my device for surfing the nets while feeding the kids, I show them the pictures and vids of interest on the iPad. I take in the bathroom, spend about 15 minutes in there reading. At the office, it sits next to my laptop, I find myself reaching for it at least 10 to 15 times a day to check email or look for something online, plus it is a big help durning meetings. At the house it is my go to device while cooking- no cover on it but no problems so far. I use it to watch TV via the Comcast app and then I play with it at night- so, in a nutshell, it has found a place in my daily routine that I would not want to trade for another device. Not to mention- on the weekends, I love sketching with Sketchbook Pro- very cool. Oh yeah, iBooks is very slick too.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:07 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's definitely a different experience, but I wonder if the right answer might be to wait? It appears that the next version of the Mac OS might incorporate a lot of the iOS features -- perhaps that will be enough to bridge some of the gap between the two? I'm not sure what the latest timeframe is for the new OS, but I thought it was somewhat soon.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 10:01 PM on May 19, 2011

I've been using the 11" MacBook Air since the day it came out, and I just got my iPad 2 last Friday. I use them both quite a bit, for different things. I use the MBA for computer-y things: programming, writing, and even most web browsing. I use the iPad for reading: Kindle for iPad and GoodReader. I have quite a few programming books and course books that I've put on the iPad, so I can read the book while I'm using the computer.

You can also use a custom app to extend your computer's screen onto the iPad - the name eludes me right now, but that's pretty neat, and with an 11" screen any extra you can get is good.

I typically carry both of them around with me, and together they still weigh less than my previous laptop.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:20 PM on May 19, 2011

Another vote here for getting the iPad. I use it all the time despite also having two laptops in the house (which I also use). It fits in my (small) man-bag and therefore it goes everywhere with me. The Air is lightweight, but I would have to carry another bag to be able to carry one everywhere - not going to happen. What the iPad replaced for me was the iPhone, not the MacBook. Since most of the apps are the same and I always have my iPad with me, I no longer have any use for the iPhone - this allowed me to change to a significantly cheaper model/contract.

Also: Garageband for the iPad is phenomenal and is a totally different experience to Garageband on the Mac.
posted by jonnyploy at 3:02 AM on May 20, 2011

How much do you carry your Air around? I mean, like, going into the bathroom, or taking it to the kitchen so you can listen to music while you load the dishwasher? If the answer is "Not very much," then give the iPad a try. We have laptops in our house, and they stay on the couch 95 percent of the time they're in use. But the iPad goes with me all over the damn place. As others have said, the computer is for computing. The Pad is for stuff that doesn't take that long, and there's a lot of stuff that doesn't take that long.
posted by Etrigan at 6:52 AM on May 20, 2011

I have the 11" Air, which I love, but I have been considering getting an iPad for reading books, especially cookbooks. I've moved so many damn times and having to deal with boxes of books is such a pain in the ass. I've got a goal to make my life as wireless and paperless as possible, and putting all those books on a single device seems like a no-brainer.
posted by matrushka at 7:50 AM on May 20, 2011

Seconding This_Will_Be_Good - the next version of OS X is bringing a lot of the UI rethinking that went into the iPad, and will be coming out in the next couple months. You might see whether that makes the Air the perfect "sweet spot" device for you, or if you still feel like the iPad has advantages.

Also, you haven't mentioned what makes you want the iPad in the first place. There will always be things the iPad does better or faster than the Air, and vice versa, but I don't think there's anything you cannot do with the Air. There's a dozen free ways to have "video conversations" using the Air, including via the free FaceTime app with which you can video chat to iPhone and iPad users, as well as Skype, iChat AV, etc.
posted by churl at 1:00 PM on May 20, 2011

Self-correction: the FaceTime app is 99¢, or included with your Air if you bought it recently enough. It (or equivalent) is also likely to come bundled with OS 10.7.
posted by churl at 1:03 PM on May 20, 2011

Folks, thanks to everyone for the responses... this was exactly the feedback I hoped for!
posted by tomswift at 9:13 PM on May 21, 2011

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