Apple’s iPads are dominating the US tablet market for good reason. Apple offers a wide range of tablet-oriented apps, a user-friendly operating system and a great service and support structure. As of this writing, there are five main iPad models (four of which we’ve tested): the base iPad, the iPad Air, the Ipad mini, and the 11 inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro Models. Refurbished models are often available from Apple, and you can also browse used marketplaces for older iPads. A good iPad has a lifespan of at least five years.
Can an iPad replace my laptop?
Not yet. iPads are running Apple’s iPadOS, which is a tablet-focused version of its iOS for phones. iPadOS adds tablet-centric features like split-screen multitasking without becoming a full desktop-style Windows operating system. That has its advantages – iPad apps work best without a keyboard or trackpad, but can use a keyboard and trackpad if necessary – but it has disadvantages too. You can’t expand your display to multiple monitors, you can’t have more than two apps on the screen at the same time, and many professional apps don’t have all of the functionality of their desktop versions. If you need these features, take a look 2-in-1 convertible or hybrid laptops and our favorite Windows tablets.
However, if you don’t want to bother with the limitations of iPadOS and sometimes just want to type on real keys, there are plenty of iPad-compatible keyboards and keyboard cases out there.
Which iPad is Best for Me?
If you want to be more productive or creative, the iPad Air is for you. It has many of the same features as the iPad Pro (faster processor, better pencil, better audio) and costs a lot less.
A keyboard turns an iPad Air into a powerful productivity tablet.
The iPad mini is more expensive but not significantly more powerful than the base model of the iPad, so you pay for its compactness. It’s primarily useful for point-of-sale systems, vehicle mounts, doctor’s offices, and other places where a full-size tablet would be unwieldy.
If price doesn’t matter, the iPad Pro has terrific hardware. But its operating system keeps it from doing a lot more than the Air, and it costs a lot more. However, it is a luxurious experience. We tested the 12.9-inch model, but the same issues apply to the 11-inch model (which is even closer to an Air-like one).
Do I need iPad accessories?
In the box you get an iPad and a charger. There are a few other things you may need to get the most out of your new tablet.
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Every iPad can be expanded with the optional Pencil accessory, a high-quality active stylus. There are two pencils; the the first generation works with the base iPad and Mini, and the second generation works with high-end models. The second generation pencil is easier to hold because it is not perfectly round, and it is conveniently charged via a magnetic port on the side of the tablet. There is also a cheaper alternative to pencil, den Logitech crayon.
It’s worth noting that the cheapest iPad isn’t very cheap, especially when you factor in these add-ons. I think $ 300 is great for a five year investment, but a lot of people don’t have this dosh. Something Android tablets sell for less – even under $ 100 – and are great for basic gaming and media streaming, but not for schoolwork or productivity. Our list of best cheap tablets tells you which low-end models are worth considering.