iPad or Touchscreen Laptop Computer?

So asks Andrés Pizá:

After following your “coverage” of the iPad launch with the pass of the hours during your extensive review, a slight idea came to my mind: buying an iPad. I haven’t tried any Apple device enough to self-declare myself as a Apple fan, but I used to like their offerings. I thought about how I could use the iPad, primarily for schoolwork / classes. Then, I remembered a video I saw about using OneNote from Microsoft Office with a touchscreen laptop. It seem to look good, as you could sync notes with your main computer and extend them.

My dilemma, as I’m going to buy an iPad or a touchscreen laptop very soon: which one should I get?

As a Windows user, I have Office on my desktop (Windows 7). If I buy a touchscreen laptop, I could use all the software on it. On the other hand, if I buy an iPad (the Wi-Fi version), I also have to buy a case, all the apps I could need, etc.. So, it would mean additional costs to the iPad itself. I think the iPad is easier to carry and is more discreet – especially for use in class.

When the iPad is launched in Spain, I know a friend who will buy one, so I could try it then. If I go to any store, I could also try a laptop with touchscreen functionality.

What should I do?

Difficult question to answer, really. Touch seems to be YOUR killer feature, so based on that, let me first share a few truths:

  • Windows 7 wasn’t designed for touch experiences, top to bottom.
  • Most Windows software wasn’t designed for touch experiences, top to bottom.
  • Apple won’t allow viruses or spyware into the App Store.
  • Not all “touch” screens are built alike.

Yeah, I’ve yet to see a Windows computer work well with touch – and that’s based on my own practical experience. NOT to say it won’t work – it just won’t work very well, and you’ll wind up working with a mouse / keyboard anyway.

If you go the touchscreen PC route, you’re better off getting a notebook with a capacitive touch screen. This won’t be cheap, but it will also decrease the chances for mis-taps and re-taps (which happen all-too-often with devices that try to provide a touch experience). That is, if any exist – and if they’ll fit your budget.

Is the iPad, then, the option for you? Nobody can effectively answer that question for you. Pick one up, play with it, borrow it for the weekend. Try it with an external keyboard. Look at what software is available, free or otherwise.

Forget the cool factor of any device – it’s “which one fits” you that’s most important.