Need a Cheap Laptop With a Great Battery Life? Try an iPad.

The iPad Air in a Logitech Combo Touch keyboard case.
Apple, Logitech

Inexpensive Windows laptops are known for their terrible battery life, bulky builds, and general unreliability. But at just $ 330, the iPad is staggering 10 hours battery life and weighs much less than any budget laptop. And, while the iPad is technically a fair tablet, its robust selection of standard productivity apps and professional-grade accessories makes it a practical (and comfortable) alternative to Windows machines.

IPads are productivity, entertainment and gaming machines

A photo of the iPad Air in iPad OS
Apple

Like most tablets, the iPad is a fantastic entertainment device. It works with all streaming services, it can play a wide variety of games (from Minecraft at GTA San Andreas at Civilization VI), and its compatibility with EBook applications should satisfy the literary needs of anyone.

But the iPad is not just a toy. It works with a variety of productivity suites, from Google Docs at Microsoft office. In addition, the performance of the iPad when running professional creative applications such as Procreate (drawing), BeatMaker 3 (music creation), and Adobe lightroom (photo editing) is unmatched by any PC or laptop at a similar price.

And to be clear, these professional abilities are a Major central to the design of the iPad. They are not just thrown together with tape and glue. Unlike inexpensive Windows laptops, the iPad does not experience slowdowns under pressure from browser tabs, multiple applications, or streaming video. Apple regularly updates the iPad with new productivity features, such as split screen controls and compatibility of USB devices, as well as iPad gesture controls and compatibility with accessories ensure comfortable use in any environment.

We also need to take a moment to mention that the iPad integrates perfectly with iOS and Mac products. All applications or games purchased on your Apple account are available on iPhone and iPad, and the iPad works perfectly with iMessage and FaceTime. In addition, the iPad works with AirDrop, which makes it easier to move files between local Apple devices.

IPad works with keyboards, mice and other accessories

The iPad with a Logitech Triathalon keyboard, pencil and mouse
Apple, Logitech

The iPad’s touch and gesture controls are arguably among the most intuitive and reliable on the market. Still, typing on the iPad without a keyboard is a challenge, and touch controls aren’t always ideal for working, sending messages to others, or browsing the web.

But that’s where the iPad accessories come in. The IPad keyboard is potentially the most essential iPad accessory, as it turns the iPad into a more conventional device for working, navigating, sending messages or taking notes. Of course, the iPad works with any Bluetooth or wired keyboard, and third-party keyboard cases (especially those by Logitech) may be an affordable alternative to the official Apple iPad keyboard.

While a combination of a keyboard and touchscreen controls is enough to meet most productivity needs (this is how this article was typed), the iPad ability to work with conventional wireless and wired mice (as part of the March 24 iPadOS 13.4 update) makes it a compelling portable alternative, even to the most vocal opponents. There are even options for people who prefer to work with a keyboard and trackpad, like the Magic keyboard and the Logitech Combo Touch. These trackpad keyboards are expensive, but their convenience factor and integrated gesture controls (which are similar to that of a Mac) provide a more portable experience than any other accessory.

It should also be noted that Apple pencil and other third-party styli are essential tools for creative work on the iPad and can often replace mice and touchpads. Most Bluetooth accessories, such as earphones (shout at AirPods) and joysticks also work with the iPad, and wired USB accessories can plug into the iPad’s Lightning port through the use of an adapter.

An affordable iPad keyboard

Which iPad should I buy and what accessories do I need?

A range of different Apple iPads.
Apple

Buying an iPad can be a little intimidating. YouTube critics and tech geeks alike like to pretend that the iPad Pro is the only valid option, and it’s easy to be mistaken about Apple’s confusing naming scheme.

So let’s clarify a few things now. The basic iPad ($ 330) is well optimized and runs on a powerful A10 Fusion chip. It has the same operating system as the iPad Pro and can withstand an exceptional amount of voltage before experiencing a slowdown. Accessory side, the basic iPad works with everything except the 2nd generation Apple Pencil and the trackpad equipped Magic keyboard (it works well with the 1st generation Apple Pencil, the official IPad keyboard, and third-party keyboard options– some of which have integrated trackpads).

If you think you’ll need more processing power than the base iPad has to offer, then the iPad Air ($ 500) may be a better option for you. It is built with an A12 Bionic chip, which offers faster load times than the basic A10 chip in iPad and comparable reliability to the A12Z Bionic chip in iPad Pro 2020. It also has the added benefit a 10.5-inch True Tone screen, which is slightly larger and offers more color accuracy than the base 10.2-inch screen on the iPad. In terms of accessories, there is no difference between the iPad and the iPad Air.

For most people, the basic iPad and the iPad Air are more reliable alternatives than a cheap laptop. They are affordable, have a 10 hour battery life and are much more reliable than similarly priced Windows machines. We suggest buying an iPad Pro only if you are concerned about the 10.2 and 10.5 inch screen sizes of the iPad and iPad Air. These are reasonably comfortable screens, but they may seem small to people used to 14 or 15 inch laptops. Apple just released the IPad Pro 2020, therefore the 2018 model is likely to go on sale soon.

But what accessories should you buy? Well, you are using the iPad as an alternative to a laptop, so we suggest you start with a keyboard. A keyboard case, like the official IPad keyboard, the Logitech Slim Folio, or any third party option will offer the most laptop-like experience (although you can still use a full-size wireless keyboard). From there, you may want to buy a wireless mouse for use on the desktop and Lightning to USB dongle for things like external drives and wired printers. (Apple also sells a Lightning to USB dongle with pass-through charge.)

The best iPad for most people

You don’t like the iPad? Chromebooks are another alternative

The Lenovo 2 in 1 Chromebook
Lenovo

If you can’t use the iPad as an alternative to a cheap laptop, but still want a device with exceptional battery life and fast performance, then a Chromebook is probably your best option.

Chromebooks are designed like ordinary laptops and use a lightweight operating system that feels similar (but much more intuitive) than Windows. Most Chromebooks in the $ 300 to $ 500 price range last 8-10 hours, and many are built with lightweight components that are more comfortable to use than similarly priced Windows machines.

Like the iPad, Chromebooks work well with standard productivity tools like the Google document suite, Microsoft Office, cloud storage apps, and team telecom software. Sure, Chromebooks don’t have the creative apps, games, iOS integration, and iPad’s incredibly slim form factor, but those features are traded for a more traditional computing experience, a larger screen, additional accessory ports and an integrated keyboard and touchpad.

Buying a Chromebook isn’t always an easy experience, because there are a ton of Chromebooks to choose the form. In our Chromebook buying guide, we suggest sticking to devices with an Intel processor for speed and reliability. the Lenovo Yoga C630 and ASUS Chromebook Flip are fantastic options in the $ 400 to $ 500 range, while the Lenovo C340 is a solid option in the $ 300 range.

A budget Chromebook

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