Why Apple’s iPad Is the Gadget of the Pandemic


In a flatlining economy, the $399 iPhone that Apple introduced last week might sound attractive. But there’s a better gadget deal in the pandemic: the iPad.

Remember the iPad? You would be forgiven if you had forgotten.

Apple unveiled a new entry-level model of the tablet computer last year for $329. Yet it barely got a mention at the company’s glitzy product event in September, when Apple highlighted new iPhones that cost $699 to $1,099. The iPad, which always seemed like an optional accessory sitting between your computer and smartphone, has long been treated as that “other” device.

Now it’s time for us to reconsider the iPad. Last week, I wrote about how the coronavirus had revealed our most essential tech and weeded out the excess. The tech we have turned to over and over boils down to a computing device, communication tools, entertainment and an internet connection. The iPad delivers on all of those needs even better than a smartphone.

With a bigger screen than an iPhone, the iPad excels at videoconferencing with apps like FaceTime and Zoom, and it’s great for watching movies and programs on Netflix and YouTube. When you attach it to a good keyboard, it becomes an excellent budget computer with a zippy internet connection for browsing the web, writing emails and composing documents. All for half the price of a regular iPhone.

Initially, I preferred doing video calls on my office-provided laptop because the screen angle could be adjusted. But after about a week, I realized that video calls on a laptop were a lousy experience. They are a power sucker; a half-hour call on Google Hangouts used 25 percent of my laptop battery.

What’s more, security researchers have found that Zoom, the most popular video chatting app, has major security vulnerabilities on computers but not on mobile devices like the iPad. That’s because mobile apps operate in a more restricted environment with limited access to your data.

This made me eventually shift all my video calls to the iPad, which was by far a better experience. The iPad has much longer battery life than a laptop. And compared with a smartphone, the tablet has a big screen for video calls and can easily be propped up with a protective cover.

My wife and I recently used an iPad for a two-hour FaceTime call with my brother-in-law while we played a video game together. At the end of the session, the iPad still had more than 70 percent of its battery remaining.

After I started doing video calls on the iPad, many of my work tasks also began shifting over to the tablet, including composing email, taking notes and even doing expenses. I appreciated the device’s prolonged battery life and preferred the way apps took up the full screen, which helped me concentrate on tasks.

Not all credit goes to the iPad alone. The gadget has only a virtual keyboard, and using it to type on a slab of glass is no fun.

Fortunately, I had researched several iPad keyboards before the pandemic and settled on the $100 Logitech Slim Folio keyboard, which was simple to attach. Typing on it feels the same as using a normal keyboard, and its case protects the tablet while propping it up.

I still do most of my writing on the laptop because the software is more suitable for multitasking. But I can do a surprising amount of my job on the tablet thanks in large part to finding the right keyboard.



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