One question I have heard asked by many people considering a purchase of the iPad is whether or not the iPad can be used as a main computer. What people usually mean by asking this question is they want to know if the iPad can do everything they currently do on their current computer and do it efficiently enough to make them not miss having their laptop or desktop computer.
The simple answer to this question is, yes, an iPad can function fairly well as a “main computer.” If you are not an extremely heavy computer user and mostly use your current computer for editing documents, surfing the web, and writing emails, having the iPad as your main device works very well and can be a very workable solution.
If you plan on the iPad being your main computing device, there are some accessories that you will want to seriously consider purchasing to make this the most efficient setup possible. The accessories in the following list are strongly recommended if you plan on making the iPad your main computer.
Apple Wireless Keyboard
While the touchscreen keyboard of the iPad is tolerable for shorter emails and for web browsing, most people will find that they type significantly more slowly and less accurately on the iPad than they do on a standard computer keyboard. If the iPad is going to be your main computing device, you will want to purchase the Apple Wireless Keyboard. The wireless keyboard is very quick and easy to set up and use with the iPad when the time comes to pound out longer emails and documents. If you own the original iPad, you may also want to look at the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock. (Because the iPad 2 is a slightly different shape, it doesn’t fit and sit quite as nicely in the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock.)
The Apple Wireless Keyboard is available now on the Apple online store for $69.00.
Apple iPad 2 Dock
When you need two hands available to type on your wireless keyboard, it is nice to have an effective solution for keeping your iPad propped up. The Apple iPad 2 Dock will hold your iPad in a propped up position while simultaneously charging your iPad. The dock also includes an audio line out port for connecting speakers so you can let everyone hear your prized music collection. If you own the original iPad and opt to purchase the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock, this is an accessory you won’t need as the Keyboard Dock will prop up your iPad while typing.
The Apple iPad 2 Dock is available now on the Apple online store for $29.00.
Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit
If you are someone who likes to take digital photos, the Camera Connection Kit is an accessory you will want to consider purchasing. The Camera connection kit includes two attachments that connect directly to the dock connector port on your iPad. One attachment has a USB port that allows you to connect your digital camera to your iPad through your digital camera’s USB cable. The other attachment has an SD card reader that will allow to load photos to your iPad directly from your camera’s SD card.
The Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit is available now on the Apple online store for $29.00.
A Printer with Air Print Support
If you will be using your iPad as your main device, the time will come when you need to print something. There are a few ways to set up your printers at home to work with your iPad. However, by far the easiest way to set up the ability to print from your iPad is to purchase a printer that has Air Print support. These printers are built to allow you to print from an iPhone or iPad right out of the box.
Printers with the Air Print feature are available now on the Apple online store for prices starting at $149.99.
Apple iWork Apps
There is a good selection of document editing programs available for the iPad. Nothing, however, can beat the reliability and familiarity of the iWork Apps available from Apple for the iPad. Make sure to download the Pages app for word processing, the Numbers app for working with spreadsheets, and the Keynote app for designing presentations. As an added bonus, if you purchase these apps for the iPad, you will also be able to download them for free on your iPhone.
The iWork Apps are available on the iTunes store for $9.99 a piece.
Apple Composite AV Cables, Apple Digital AV Adapter, or Apple VGA Adapter
For those times when you need to give a presentation or when you want to display your photos and videos on a larger screen, you will need the Apple Composite AV Cables, the Apple Digital AV Adapter, or the Apple VGA Adapter. The Apple Composite AV Cables allow you to connect your iPad to a T.V. or projector with AV inputs while the Apple Composite AV Cables will allow you to connect your iPad to a T.V. with an HDMI cable. The Apple VGA Adapter allows you to connect your iPad to a T.V., projector, or computer monitor with a VGA input.
The Apple Composite AV Cables and the Apple Digital AV Adapter are available on the Apple online store for $39.00. The Apple VGA Adapter is available on the Apple online store for $29.00.
A Computer to Back up Your iPad
If you plan on using your iPad as your main device, don’t get rid of your old computer. Unfortunately, due to the limited space of an iPad and the current lack of ability to back up everything on your iPad in any other way, a computer will still be essential for an iPad owner. Once you start loading up your iPad with photos, videos, and apps, the storage space of you iPad will fill up very quickly. It is nice to keep older photos, videos, and music on another computer while keeping the files you will need most often on the iPad. This will help keep you from running out of storage space.
Once Apple’s iCloud feature is released this fall, you will be able to backup most of the data on your iPad via the cloud. This will help a great deal in making the iPad more independent from your computer. Until this happens, though, you will want to regularly back up your iPad on a computer.
Is It Worth All the Extra Accessories?
To legitimately use your iPad as your main computing device as efficiently as you can use a standard computer, it does take a willingness to invest in some accessories. When you total up the cost of the iPad plus all the accessories that you will need, the price meets or exceeds the cost of purchasing a fairly nice laptop. For many people, this is a reason to pass on attempting to use the iPad as their main device.
The main area where the iPad does trump the standard laptop is in portability. The accessories can remain stored away for much of your use of the iPad as the iPad, by itself, is more than sufficient for doing most of your light computing activities. Nothing beats being able to pick up an iPad and use it all over the house with ease. The iPad works equally well while lounging in bed as it does while sitting at a table or on the couch. The fact that, with the addition of a few accessories, the iPad can transform into an efficient work machine really makes the iPad a versatile machine. This flexibility and versatility is why more and more people are now choosing to use the iPad as their main device.