Help Me, Laptop: What's a Good Laptop Alternative to an iPad?

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There are a lot of people who think they can jump to an iPad to replace a laptop, but user coldwell from our forums isn't one of them. They're looking for a device to take on the road and do occasional photo editing. While they had their eye on a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, they have some cold feet about the tablet market.

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"I've never used any apple product before [sic]," they wrote, so maybe a laptop would be more comfortable. They have $800 to spend.

Let's start with the iPad Pro. For something lightweight, the iPad is a great bet, and iOS is very intuitive. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro starts at $649 for the 64GB model, and you can add cellular for a grand total of $779. The 256GB model is $799 for Wi-Fi only. An Apple Pencil, if you want one, costs $100, so there's definitely some bundle in there for under $800. There are plenty of free or cheap photo editing apps on iOS, like Adobe Lightroom and Pixelmator, which is also a plus. I know plenty of people who use both iOS and Windows, so it's worth giving it a go.

MORE: Best 2-in-1s (Laptop/Tablet Hybrids)

But OK, you want something else. While there are plenty of great laptops under $800, you won't get the same premium feel as you would on an iPad at that price.  Integrated graphics can handle really light photo editing, but pros will want something with a discrete video card, and that will push coldwell over budget.

The newest Microsoft Surface Pro starts at $799, but you'll get a Core m3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, and that's before you buy a stylus or keyboard. That model, frankly, is overpriced whether or not you have a budget.

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You may be one of the few people who love the innovative but sometimes frustrating Lenovo Yoga Book. There's a $500 Android model and a $550 Windows version, and each has a Wacom tablet behind its keyboard, which could be great for photo editing. Of course, the trade-off is a keyboard with no travel at all.

If you're down with mobile apps, you might like the Samsung Chromebook Plus ($449) or Pro ($549). Neither is the powerhouse you'll need for full editing, but coldwell said they'll do their primary editing on a desktop. Both support Android apps and come with a stylus, so you can use mobile photo editing software. Beware, though: Android apps on any device that isn't the Google Pixelbook have proved finicky, and we're still waiting for Google to fix that.

Me? I'd go with the iPad. I'd also consider carrying around a larger, more expensive, more powerful laptop if it's for work. But for simple tasks, the iPad is a great choice. Still, there are other laptops — some with innovative features for photo editing — even if you're on a budget or uncomfortable with iOS.

Credit: Laptop Mag

Author Bio
Andrew E. Freedman
Andrew E. Freedman,
Andrew joined Laptopmag.com in 2015, reviewing computers and keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter @FreedmanAE.
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6 comments
  • Charles Wolfe jr Says:

    I bought my laptop off ebay for $159.33. It's a Dell Latitude E 6410 Windows 10 Pro, i5 cpu at 2.50 GHZ, 160 GB HD, DVD-RW, with HDMI port, 4 USB ports & VGA Port, has WORD.POWERPOINT, EXCELL, Malwarebytes, CCCleaner, PDF Creator & VLC media player. I'm tickled pink with is buy. Looks like a new laptop, bought from: Your pc Stop.

  • Rod Morgan Says:

    Does the user need the device for photo editing or not? Both assertions are put forward. No way an iPad fits the budget. And how did we move into the morass of Android, if the only stable product is Google Pixelbook (the Adobe folks would scream about that if they had any time after debugging). Nearly ANY Win10 touch screen laptop (except "difficult" Lenovo) would seem to fit the need as stated, leaving enough for a good case and even a new editing package.

  • richard Says:

    made mistake of buying surface rt worse mistake ever!!! would only work on one browser explorer and no way to add another.they provided very little soft ware that was usable!!! i still have it and got an update after they sent me a survey and i said i would not endorse anyone to buy a microsoft product after the problems with windows 10 and left out to dry with almost worthless surface rt!!!! i am sure this kind of conduct is not driving the sale of their products up and least of all the surface!!!!!

  • Cecil G Hood Says:

    I'd put a core M7 against anything Apple has. IPad is a tablet, no laptop. Biased?

  • JuanSoto Says:

    > "I've never used any apple product before [sic]," they wrote, so maybe a laptop would be more comfortable. They have $800 to spend.

    Save the $800 and try Phoenix OS (Android with Desktop-like UI). He may be after a simpler UI experience but still needs the comfort of working on a laptop.

    There's also Android x86 which I've run as a liveCD only - have not tried installing.

    Recommending a tablet to get work done without detailing the costs for peripherals (a good laptop-like case, for example with keyboard), is fanboyism.

    Otherwise he's stuck with a flimsy tablet stand, unknown mouse support (does iOS even mouse?), etc..

  • RWalrond Says:

    Trying the IPad prod as a laptop replacement and two days in it has been easy. I discovered my Office365 subscription through work doesn’t support office mobile apps, Outlook keeps crashing when I put the iPad is split screen mode and I can’t figure out how to mark a email as urgent with the built-in app. I got the Apple keyboard but with no backlight option it’s useless in the dark, the Pencil is ok but you can only ink in some apps and the noise you get when writing on the screen is much louder than on a Surface. I’m embarrassed to say it took me a good hour to figure out the steps needed to download a document from a SharePoint server and attached to an email, yikes! I’m going to tough it out and see if I get use to it but so far this is not very good.

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