Let’s start with the initial premise that Dunlap’s Lenovo notebook is $200, as compared to the entry-level price of a new 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad 2 at $500. Dunlap explains in the article that the Lenovo ThinkPad X30 was purchased used, and admits that a used iPad would be cheaper and make the comparison more even. I found someone selling a 64GB Wi-Fi only original iPad that is less than three months old for $185 locally on Craigslist. Apparently, he really needs the cash.
So, shop around. The deals are out there. Bottom line–I see your used $200 Lenovo ThinkPad X30, and raise you a used 64GB Wi-Fi original iPad for $185. Now, let’s look at why this is the year of the tablet, and why we now live in a “post-PC” era.
Dunlap laid out some specific scenarios and situations that–in his opinion–illustrate how his ThinkPad “crushes your iPad 2”. Well, here is my response to why I believe my iPad eats your notebook’s breakfast, steals its lunch money, and sends it crying home to mommy with self-esteem issues that will require extensive therapy.
Portability. The Lenovo ThinkPad X30 is not big per se, but setting an iPad 2 on top of the notebook, the ThinkPad is about an inch wider, and an inch and a half taller than the tablet. The iPad 2’s thickness of only 0.34 inches is about a quarter of the 1.2-inch thick notebook–and that is only when it is closed and useless. The iPad 2 also weighs in at about a third of the weight of the Lenovo notebook–2.4 pounds lighter to be precise.
You might assert–as Dunlap did in his article–that we’re only talking about another pound or two. It sounds negligible when you say it, but anyone who has used an original iPad, and then held an iPad 2 will tell you that even the difference of a few ounces between them is noticeable. That extra two and a half pounds will take its toll as you carry the notebook through airports and hotels–never mind the additional weight of the any peripherals you might lug around with it.
My iPad is unobtrusive. It fits nicely in any bag–like carrying the latest issue of PCWorld along with me, and it doesn’t require its own luggage.
Usability. The iPad–or tablets in general–just work. They work on the go. They work one-handed. They work instantly. The iPad 2 with the fabled Smart Cover is automatically on as soon as you crack open the cover. How long does it take your notebook to get to a functional state once you power it up? I can get out my iPad, check my email–and maybe even fire off a quick reply or two–in the time it takes you to get your laptop out, open, and booted up.
The tablet is designed to be mobile. The notebook is an effort to take a desktop and carry it with you–but at its core it is still a “desktop” OS. While I pinch and zoom and swipe and tap my way around my iPad, you will be sitting next to me on the airplane trying to figure out how to get enough elbow room to use your little eraser point mouse thingy, or–even worse–trying to use a mobile Bluetooth or USB mouse on that little fold out tray that really only has enough room for a small drink and that bag of peanuts or pretzels.
When you get where you’re going, and you can actually set up shop–unpack, plug in, and open your notebook on an actual desk workspace, and connect your external mouse, then it wins in usability. That is because the notebook is a portable PC more than a mobile PC. You can take it from Point A to Point B with relative ease, just don’t try to use it in transit.
Storage. Dunlap is correct that the largest storage capacity available on an iPad or iPad 2 is 64GB, and that most notebooks have at least 250GB of hard drive storage. No argument there. Dunlap goes on, though, to talk about the virtues of storing massive amounts of movies, TV shows, and music on a laptop. A 64GB iPad has enough capacity for five or six HD-quality movies, with enough left over to store thousands of songs, and a virtual library of books in the Kindle app. How much media do you need to carry with you, exactly?
Besides, you can pull up headlines almost any day of the week about data breaches that have resulted from a laptop being lost or stolen with hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data on it. Storing data in the cloud using services like Box.net or Dropbox means that A) you can access it anywhere and anytime as long as you have a device that can connect to the Web, and B) that if your device that connects to the Web gets lost or stolen, the data is still safe in the cloud.
Battery Life. Dunlap cites the lack of a swappable battery as a handicap for the iPad. I see the need for a swappable battery as a weakness for his ThinkPad. Dunlap is concerned that if you need to work on a long plane ride and/or in a coffee shop and there are no available outlets, the ability to swap batteries will be crucial.
Well, when you’re talking about a notebook that gets two to three hours at best from its battery, I can see why you need a backup plan. So, now you’re talking about carrying your notebook that weighs two and a half pounds more than the iPad, plus an additional battery–which by itself weighs as much or more than the iPad–just so you can get a combined battery life that is only 40 to 60 percent of what the iPad provides in the first place.
My comparison only really looks at the iPad (or iPad 2) compared with the Lenovo ThinkPad, as Dunlap’s did. But, the Apple iPad is no longer the only tablet game in town, and other tablets change the comparison in many ways. Other tablets like the Motorola Xoom or Samsung Galaxy Tab line have microSD slots for expanded storage capacity, USB connectivity, compatibility with Adobe Flash, and other features that PC enthusiasts may find lacking in the iPad.
The tablet is clearly the superior mobile computing platform for all but very specific, hard core usage scenarios. You can cling to the notebook if you choose, but your days are numbered. Resistance is futile.