iPad or Notebook?

With the imminent release of the iPad 3 (to be announced on March 7th), a number of bloggers are writing about iPads versus notebook computers.  It’s getting old.

Here’s a pro-notebook post (via Ben Brooks), and a pro-iPad post.

Here’s where I stand: I could not have an iPad as my only device.  In my life as a music teacher, there are too many things that I still need a notebook (my MacBook) to do:

  • Finale
  • SmartMusic
  • Scanning
  • Music (storing, ripping, burning, etc.) [**to my knowledge, you still cannot import audio on your iPad in any way other than through syncing with a computer, a very non-Post PC experience)
  • Movies (playing, ripping, etc.)
  • Microsoft Word
My iPad can’t do these things.  I wish it could.  I’d happily forego the weight of my MacBook if I could substitute my iPad for all these things, but that isn’t the case.
On the other hand, there are a bunch of things I can do as well or better than on my iPad as I can on my MacBook:
  • Photo Editing
  • Vector Graphic Drawings
  • Blogging
  • Writing (Pages)
  • Keynote Presentations
  • Playing Audio
  • Surfing the web
  • E-mail
  • Twitter
  • Editing video (really a much better experience for the novice user on the iPad than on a computer)
  • SmartMusic Inbox (I feel the iOS experience on the iPad far surpasses that of the web client)
And there are things I can do with my iPad that I can’t do on my MacBook:
  • Put it on the piano and use it as sheet music
  • Take handwritten notes (Noteshelf is my preferred app)
  • Drawing by hand
  • Easily control our thermostat (Nest has an app)
  • Use it as a musical instrument
  • Wirelessly project (although AirParrot allows for this, and so will this summer’s Mountain Lion)
  • Interactive books for my children
  • My young children can use it by themselves
I’m missing some things in all these categories, but I want to leave you with one truth: the iPad seems to be limited only by the limitations of the apps themselves, rather than by the limitations of the device.  I had  a discussion with a developer the other day who mentioned that the iPad was limited in what it could do (compared to a *computer*) because it didn’t have enough processing cycles–especially for what the desktop app needed to, particularly with a specific algorithm.  My naive reaction (but probably accurate none the less) is to think: “You need a better algorithm.”  Another thing I’ve experienced is that my iPad is capable of doing more today than it was in April of 2010.  Sure, I now have an iPad 2 which is faster than the iPad 1, and has more features (camera); and I’ll buy an iPad 3 (or iPad HD) eventually.  But for the most part, the majority of improvements have been on the part of the (excellent) available programs, not because of the hardware.
I use a bluetooth keyboard from time to time; and I’d still like a MacBook Air.  But I’d never give up my iPad–either in my personal life or in my professional life.  I simply expect the iPad to continue to be more Post PC and less reliant on a computer (including, in my profession, music composition apps) as time goes on.

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