iPad Recommendations

Faculty and staff occasionally ask ECN's User and Desktop Services group about the Apple iPad. When is an Apple iPad a good laptop substitute? When is a traditional laptop required?

Think of the Apple iPad, a tablet computer* with a 9.7-inch screen (or 7.9-inch on the iPad mini), as a big-screen iPod touch -- or even as an iPhone without telephone capabilities.  The iPad runs the same operating system and apps as the iPhone.  It is designed to be operated entirely with your fingers;  it does not work with a mouse;  a physical keyboard or stylus are optional separate accessories.

Before proceeding any further, please note these purchase considerations: If you're planning a purchase using Purdue funds, please contact your department's business manager to ask if they require you to document how the iPad will be used to facilitate your University business and/or research activities. Your business manager may need that information in hand before they will approve an iPad order using Purdue funds. ECN may be able to assist with ordering the iPad and Apple-branded accessories; please contact us after you have discussed the purchase with your business manager.

An iPad is neither a PC nor a Mac: A faculty or staff member who needs to run Windows or Macintosh programs, to remotely access the Windows PC or Macintosh in your office, and/or to remotely access and edit files stored in your ECN home directory should purchase a traditional PC laptop or Mac laptop. Although remote access apps for the iPad are available, you might be frustrated trying to remotely control a desktop PC or Mac in your office because its operating system was not designed for use without a mouse.

Media consumption plus iPad apps: If your needs for a portable device include consuming audio and visual media (including e-books, videos, music, and, of course, web content), reading and sending e-mail, and accessing the hundreds of thousands of downloadable apps from Apple's on-line App Store, the iPad might meet these needs. Although many downloadable apps are available for free, most have a modest cost, and all require a personal iTunes account with a personal credit card. (Purchases at the App Store might not be eligible for reimbursement; please ask your business manager.)

Internet access via WiFi (for free), 4G (for a monthly fee), or both: Every iPad model has built-in WiFi for accessing the Internet where free WiFi networks are available, such as Purdue's on-campus PAL network; free or paid wireless networks in coffee shops, restaurants, hotel conference rooms, and other locations; and home broadband networks with a wireless router.  Some models also include the ability to use the AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon 4G cellular network for Internet access;  the month-to-month rate plans typically costs $15 to $50 and is enabled as needed on the iPad itself using a personal credit card.

Video output limitations: For the first-generation iPad, Apple sold an accessory "iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter" which provides some ability to connect an iPad (original model) to a projector or computer monitor. Unlike a traditional PC laptop or Mac laptop, the iPad (original model) does not simply mirror its own screen to a projector or monitor. Rather, the developer of each app controls whether any video output is sent to the external video device. These limitations are described in this Apple support article and an iLounge.com article.

For the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad, Apple sold an accessory "Apple Digital AV Adapter" which supports video mirroring to an HDTV or HDMI-compatible display. For the fourth-generation iPad, Apple sells the accessory "Lightning Digital AV Adapter" (for video mirroring to an HDTV or HDMI-compatible display) and "Lightning to VGA Adapter".

Compatible displays or projectors might not be available in campus classrooms or conference rooms, though. If you hope to use an iPad instead of a traditional laptop as a teaching or presentation tool, make sure the location(s) where you intend to present have compatible equipment.

An iPad is a "self-supported" device. Prior to the release of iOS version 5 ("iOS" is the name of the iPad's operating system software) during Fall 2011, an iPad needed to be paired (connected physically via an included cable) occasionally with iTunes software on a PC or Mac to keep the iPad's operating system up to date. Although software updates and downloads (of apps and other media) from Apple's App Store may now be done "over the air" (via a WiFi or cellular connection), the fastest way to transfer your personal media library (music, photos, videos) to an iPad is via the included cable. The PC or Mac you use for this must be a self-supported or home computer.

Due to technical limitations, an iPad should not be paired with an ECN-supported computer. And note that ECN is unable to provide support during your iPad's setup or routine use.

Other limitations: Please note that Apple's laser engraving service (personalized text laser-etched onto the reverse side of the device) is not available for iPads purchased with Purdue funds.

See Apple's iPad page for product information.


* What is a tablet computer, exactly?

Wikipedia defines the tablet computer as "a complete personal mobile computer, larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, integrated into a flat touch screen and primarily operated by touching the screen."

The term also applies, Wikipedia says, to "a 'convertible' notebook computer whose keyboard is attached to the touchscreen by a swivel joint" so that its keyboard may remain hidden and the device controlled solely by touch or stylus. Prior to 2010, convertible notebooks often ran a version of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

When Apple announced the iPad 2 in March 2011, they claimed that the iPad (original model) commanded 90% share of the tablet computer market; Apple also claimed that the 15 million iPads sold to date represented more than all other tablets ever previously sold, combined. By October 2012, Apple reported total sales of 100 million iPads.

So whether you think of iPad as a tablet computer or as the first device in a new category, ECN simply hopes you'll recognize that iPad works differently than the tablet devices which came before it ... and that you'll be fully informed of its advantages and disadvantages before you make a purchase.


Last modified: 2015/09/03 12:35:28.255536 GMT-4 by rose.a.blades.1
Created: 2010/08/27 16:48:38.405000 GMT-4 by john.a.omalley.1.



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