10-Hour iPad vs. 30-Hour ThinkPad

Amid the romance with the iPad, tech buyers have forgotten about actual functionality.
With all the focus on iPads I’ve begun to wonder whether we’ve forgotten about the laptop computer entirely. Yet as I watch people use their iPads many seem to work to turn them back into 10-hour laptops computers bay adding keyboards and cases which mimic this same form factor.

When pressed, most also admit that when it comes to actual work they still go back to using their laptop or desktop computer. Apple has done a stunning job getting folks to forget what a laptop can do. Maybe it’s time we revisited this decision.

On One Hand, the iPad….

The clear positives to the iPad is that it is very easy to use, costs between $500 and $1,000 based on configuration and accessories, and it’s very light (1.5 pounds) compared to a laptops. And it is really cool looking.

The very clear negatives are that it really isn’t a good reader because it lacks an outdoor viewable screen and outweighs the popular 8.7 ounce Kindle by nearly 2x. It has limited capability (it does a few things well), and is relatively fragile without an accessory case. It’s usually better with an accessory keyboard, has virtually no upgradability, and very limited expansion capability. Finally, you are tied by the hip to Apple.

Apple has convinced us it is an amazing device but the PC is pretty amazing, too. And while it is our tendency to look and be enthralled by the newest shiny thing on the table, maybe it’s time to take another look at the good old laptop.

Compared with the ThinkPad….

ThinkPad has been the premier premium mobile laptop brand for over a decade and is the most common laptop used by technology analysts and related analyst firms. While most of folks likely think of a laptop as having less than 2 hours of battery life and weighing over 6 pounds they have changed a lot over the last few years. Let’s look at the new Lenovo ThinkPad T 420 as an example.

Positives for the T 420 include around 20 hours of battery life with an internal battery and up to 30 with an external booster battery – that’s three times longer than the iPad – starting price of under $600. It passes 8 MilSPEC tests, including drop and water resistance making it vastly sturdier than the iPad, able to run any Windows application, Flash (variety of browsers), and the largest portfolio of business applications (consistent with the PC market).

It has a built-in keyboard (best keyboard in the market), much larger LCD screen, HD Sound and Video, and Optimus NVIDA graphics are optional. It includes a DVD drive option, it’s glare resistant due to non-tablet form factor, it has security and management designed into the device.

The unit has docking options that secure the device (less likely to be stolen successfully), built in HD camera and VOIP phone features, keyboard light, USB/monitor connectivity, upgradeable memory and, through industry standard laptop accessories, it’s centrally manageable and allows enterprise-class support.

Negatives include the fact it weighs about what two iPads and a keyboard does, doesn’t look as cool, and has no touch capability. It has even worse eBook reader capability due to size and weight, less power efficient, and it isn’t as pretty.

Apple Did It Again

Think of the iPod. While others were bringing out little flash-based players under $200, Apple launched a big one costing over twice as much and called the Flash-based players stupid.

That was until Apple drove them out of the market and now only the classic is still hard drive-based. With the phone, folks wanted small units (and loved cell phones like the Motorola RAZR) and hated screen phones. That was until Apple launched the iPhone and now they are rumored to be working on a small phone of their own.

It almost looks like Apple has a formula of bringing out products we shouldn’t like, convincing us to like them, and then forcing out the other player – only to revisit the obliterated form factor once they own the market.

If the iPad had been made by anybody but Apple I don’t think it would have sold well. In fact, if you look at other Tablets, like the similar Samsung Galaxy (which supposedly shipped 2M units to stores but only sold 250,000) no other tablets are currently selling very well. They are simply too limited. Given that solid laptops like the ThinkPad T 420 are actually cheaper in this very tight market shouldn’t you at least think about a new one of those as an alternative?

One final thought, if you’re like me, you’ve seen a bunch of folks try to live off an iPad and end up using the iPad less, eventually buying a new laptop, generally a Mac. Wouldn’t that suggest they might have been happier with a new laptop all along?

Or, maybe they’d be happier with the older but more reliable pad, the ThinkPad. Something to think about this week.

Tags: iPad, iPad apps, Apple iPad, ThinkPad, laptop battery

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