The iPad: A Great Personal Computer

Hobie Henning
5 min readMay 30, 2021

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I have been using the iPad since the first day that it came out and I was the 16th person in my city to buy one, buying one having never tried one beforehand, which is extremely rare for me, I normally research and test-drive things to death before I put up the case to buy one. I’ve been with the platform since then and been a believer in it. I think that it’s the best home computing device on the market now for most people. When I mean “home computing”, let me define that for the sake of this post as tasks that included, but are not limited to : reading, video games, watching video, surfing the web, paying bills, doing taxes, budgeting, writing blog posts, drawing, etc…aka computing tasks we do for personal productivity or relaxation in mind.

A lot of people get general purpose computers like Macs and Windows computers through work and for professional tasks that you make your living with, I’d argue that Windows and MacOS are still the best tools for that job, but over the last decade people’s smartphones have become their most personal computers, with their home computers, whether that be desktops or laptops having much longer lives that manufactures expect, regularly reaching 5–10 years…a decade or two ago would have been unimaginable. The truth is that people are getting more life out of the electronic devices with people upgrading their smartphones every 2–4 years now and much longer for their general purposes PCs. Even with enterprise and MDM controls in place, most people who have to do something personal on a work issued device can do so through the web browser. I think this is why Chromebooks are so successful for so many people because so much today can be done through the web browser (The success of apps like Slack, Teams, and Discord is a testament to that since they’re extensively browsers underneath). With the introduction of the iPad Air last year and Magic Keyboard I have gotten to the point that for most normal people who just want device to do “personal computer” tasks, but with a larger and more comfortable screen than a smartphone I recommend the iPad Air. For those who want more or have been using the iPad regularly for years I recommend the Pro models, but those cases are few and far between. For most people, I think an iPad Air is an excellent option. Its affordable at $500 with an useable amount of storage at 64GB for tasks that I defined above, especially since most people store their heavier files like photos, videos, and music in cloud services like Google Photos, Spotify, iCloud Photo Library, and Apple Music.

The App Store

The iPad being a larger device also has a huge library of iPad-optimized apps that are desktop-class in their functionality and from my general observations most people at home do not do more than 1x task at a time (I remember Microsoft talking about so much around Windows 8’s release). The 11” screen size is big enough for a full-screen application to take up the entire screen and if you need to multitask you can easily bring over an iPhone app view on the side or split screen two applications at the same time. The iPad has thousands excellent games and can be paired with a Bluetooth controller if you want more and has access to every streaming music, book, and video service that you can imagine. Microsoft and Apple both have really capable Office suites on the device now that cover most people’s home or high school level needs.

Making it a Computer

The iPad is locked down enough that you do not have to worry as much as security, much like an iPhone, which is a good thing for most users. I think the iPad still excels first as a touch-first device of course, but by adding a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse you can make it into a much better traditional computer experience. I like the Apple Magic Keyboard, even though that’s really pricey, because it combines a case with a trackpad and keyboard to make a device that you do not have to remember to recharge and it effectively turns my iPad Pro into a tiny laptop.

At Work

For me, I use the iPad as my primary home computing device and device that I use the most on the weekends when I’m out and about town or visiting friends and family. It only does one thing at a time generally, but that’s OK on the weekend when I’m not having to juggle multiple things at work. I see my iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard as my Imperial Shuttlecraft to my Star Destroyer of a 16” MacBook Pro. If I’m getting work done for work, I almost always go for the Mac first, but even at work, the iPad is great companion device that I use for meetings, walking around device maintenance when I do monthly computer check-ups with end-users, and just as my quick-terminal to my management box or cloud services when I need to make a quick change without having to run back to my office for my Mac. Also, the Apple Pencils is just awesome for taking notes, signing documents, and annotating documents/spreadsheets/PowerPoint slides in the Microsoft office app for iPadOS.

Just a great personal computer

So, with all of that being said, that’s why I have gotten to the point of recommending my loved ones, especially if they already use iPhones, get an iPad Air instead of a personal Windows laptop or Chromebook. I think that the iPad provides them a better personal computing experience because of the strength of its App Store, Apple ecosystem integration, and ability to expand itself now with the Apple Pencil, keyboards + mice, and USB-C accessories like hubs for camera card readers. The battery life is excellent and the Apple chipsets are incredibly powerful to the point that the devices will probably outlast your interest in using them. Overall, I’ve been really excited with the most recent changes to the iPad with the iPad Air’s excellent value and colors as well as the introduction of pointer supporter with the Magic Keyboard and Bluetooth mouse support. For me, it is starting to capture that dream of Windows 8 a few years ago of a more streamlined and user-friendly home computer that supports a variety of form factors, including tablet mode, hybrid mode with something like the keyboard folio, and full-on laptop mode with the Magic Keyboard. I’m really looking forward to seeing what iPadOS 15 brings to the platform now that we have iPads with more RAM, storage, and better screens than ever before. I think its evolved from simply a larger iPhone over the years into simply a great personal computer.

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Hobie Henning

IT Support Specialist V and Spring Hill College graduate who loves all things tech. If it has a flashing LED it has my immediate attention.