Value also plays a role. Price of entry for a halfway decent netbook is under £250. For a new iPad 3, you’re looking at £400 minimum. It might totally be worth the extra, but the simple fact of the matter is that not everyone can afford that £150. On the other hand, the kind of quality iPad 3 provides for that money is staggering, easily matching laptops that cost over £1,000. It would be fairer, then, to compare a netbook to the iPad 2, which will continue to be available.
Perhaps the biggest factor of differentiation is the keyboard though. Laptops have it, iPads – whether new or old – don’t. You can buy an iPad case with keyboard attachment (have a read of our comprehensive iPad 2 case roundup, some will fit) but rarely will you find one that’s as comfortable to tap away on as even the average netbook keyboard.
The Casual User: iPad 3 Wins
Essentially then, it comes down to usage. If you’re the type who does a bit of light web-browsing, likes casual gaming, answers the occasional email and makes a video call once in a while, then Cook’s statement is perfectly justified. In fact, even if you do quite a bit of the above, any iPad but especially the third one has a lot to offer. That goes double if you mostly use your computer at a desk, as it takes care of typing: you can just buy a stand and decent Bluetooth keyboard for your iPad 3 and away you go.
The Enthusiast: iPad 3 Draws
If you’re an enthusiast you’re more likely to want the new iPad as a secondary tool. You’ll use it for those tasks and recreations it excels at, and switch to a laptop or desktop PC for the rest. This approach gets you the best of both worlds, but you have to be able to afford it.
The Productivity Freak: iPad 3 Loses
You want to work in Excell or Photoshop, but the iPad won’t let you use a mouse. You need to type pages of reports, but the proper desktop Bluetooth keyboard is not portable and that iPad keyboard case gives you RSI. You want to print some forms but the iPad won’t play nice with your printer. You can buy an iPad for play and a little work, but a laptop is the essential here.
But Things May Change
Of course this could all change. A laptop could come out that lasts as long as the iPad 3 on a charge and has a similarly high-resolution screen – but we wouldn’t count on it anytime soon, at least not for under £1,000. A more likely scenario is that Apple ups the new iPad’s compatibility, making or letting others certify drivers for all the bits it currently can’t interface with.
It’s also worth remembering that some Android tablets already offer most of the laptop advantages, with models like the Transformer Prime, with its keyboard dock and superb connectivity, setting the pace.