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My US$200 laptop can beat your US$500 tablet

Tom Dunlap | March 21, 2011
Where a lifer laptop owner grouses about the areas where his less sexy Lenovo ThinkPad X30 easily bests either Apple iPad.

Everywhere I go these days, my friends slam laptops. They tell me my PC of choice is a dying breed and sing the praises of their new, "post-PC" Apple iPad.

They carefully pull out their Apple device. I admire it, then ask: "So where do you insert the DVD, how do you bang out a long e-mail on a touch keyboard, and do you know what I paid for my little (Lenovo ThinkPad X30) laptop compared to what you paid for this iPad?"

I do understand the iPad is thin, light, and easy to travel with. I get the advantages of portable entertainment. But if you don't need the prestige of having the latest-and-greatest tech, I believe you can get all that and much more for much less than the cost of a new tablet. All you have to do is tote around another measly pound or two.

If you're willing to take a chance on used equipment, Craigslist fans have the opportunity to find slightly older laptops starting at about $200.

My Reasons

Here are the top reasons I think my used ThinkPad--which I paid about $200 for--crushes your iPad 2, which new, starts at $499 and can run more than $800, depending on the configuration. (Of course, a used iPad 1's price would be lower. Prices for formerly owned original iPads started at around $400 on Craigslist the day I checked.)

A Laptop's CD and DVD Player/Burner: If you're into permanently saving photos, music, or movies, or if you're serious about backing up your hard drive and programs, you probably need to burn the occasional disk. Those relatives in Indiana need a copy of the video of cousin Paul's drum recital or they'd love to look at a CD with the pictures from your night trip to Alcatraz. You can't cram everything onto Facebook.

A Laptop's Keyboard: Most iPad users readily admit it's difficult to type anything that is data intensive on the touch keyboard that appears on the screen. I'll go further: I detest typing on a touch keyboard. As my friend and PCWorld reviewer Jon Jacobi sarcastically puts it: "Overpriced pads: Touchscreens without keyboards. How innovative." Flimsy, add-on keyboards don't cut it. Give me a solid, built-in board like the one on my ThinkPad. It's one of the best laptop keyboards ever, and I still like the old-school Trackpoint eraserhead cursor control.


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