Affinity Consulting Blog

I have both an iPad and a Chromebook. I like them both. But when it comes to productivity tasks in my law practice, the Chromebook is more useful most of the time. The iPad is good for wireless presentations in a room where an Apple TV is available to connect to the projection system. It is also good for reading and annotating documents such as trial transcripts in my appellate practice. But for dealing with email, creating and editing documents, online research, and other web-based tasks, I prefer the Chromebook. Apparently, I am not alone.

In this post by Jess Bolluyt at Gear & Style CheatSheet, five reasons are given to prefer a Chromebook over an iPad:

Chromebooks are more capable

An iPad is fun when you’re downloading and using apps, but if you’re going to depend on your new device for any kind of web browsing, a Chromebook is a better choice. Using the Internet on a Chromebook is an experience akin to the browsing experience on any laptop, and just about any site that you navigate to will be usable. With the iPad, on the other hand, you’ll often run into issues when sites aren’t optimized for the tablet’s display. While you might think that the apps available make up for those issues, a Chromebook actually has an app store built in, too. All of the apps for a Chromebook are web-based, but especially when it comes to productivity apps, the same app is often easier to use with a keyboard and a trackpad than with the iPad’s touchscreen. (If you’re curious about what apps and services you might end up using with a Chromebook, take a look through Google’s app suggestions.) Additionally, if you have an Android phone or tablet already, a Chromebook is an easy choice, since the devices use your Google account to stay synced.

Chromebooks are also more shareable

Additionally, a Chromebook is a better choice if you’re going to share your device with anyone else. When you set up a new iPad, your Apple ID is associated with it, and there’s no way to set up multiple accounts. Anyone who uses your iPad will have full access to your data and apps, and there are many situations in which that isn’t ideal. With a Chromebook, on the other hand, you sign in with a Google account each time you launch the device. You can sign out and your girlfriend or your nephew can sign in, and your data and settings will all remain separate.

For many tasks, a keyboard is a necessity

There’s no getting around the fact that a Chromebook has a keyboard and an iPad doesn’t (unless you spend more money to get one). Even though your niece or nephew might love to play games on your iPad, no extra investment needed, there are many tasks, from sending emails to browsing the Internet, when having a keyboard is a major plus. If you plan to use your new device at work, being able to type up documents on it is a major plus, and you’ll quickly realize that that’s much easier accomplished on an actual computer than on a tablet. (Even typing in a URL to navigate to your favorite site can be a pain when you’re relying on a touchscreen keyboard instead of a physical keyboard and a mouse.) While you can easily find a Bluetooth keyboard or a third-party keyboard case for your iPad, it’s another piece to remember when you pack it up for your morning commute or a last-minute trip out of town. A device with a laptop form factor is simply easier to use and more easily portable than a tablet that needs an assortment of accessories to approximate the functionality of the laptop.

A Chromebook often costs less than an iPad

Apple sells two different models of the iPad, the iPad Air and the iPad mini, and currently offers two generations of each on the Apple store. The least-expensive option is the WiFi-only, 16GB iPad mini 2, at $299, and prices go as high as $829 for the 128GB WiFi + Cellular iPad Air 2. Chromebooks, on the other hand, are offered in a more diverse and more budget-friendly lineup. You can get one of the lightweight computers for as low as $149 (look for the Haier Chromebook 11 or the Hisense Chromebook). While there’s one high-end option (the Chromebook Pixel costs $999), only a few models start at prices more than $300. Chromebooks often end up being less expensive to repair or replace than an iPad. The only drawback of a Chromebook’s lower price tag is that it generally has less resale value than an iPad, but as PC World’s Chris Hoffman noted last year, that also makes a Chromebook a less likely target for theft than a highly recognizable iPad.

Chromebooks are easier to maintain

It can be a lot of fun to browse the App Store on your iPad, or download files to be stored locally. But sooner or later, it’s likely that you’re going to find yourself wanting to clean up your files or cull your selection of apps to maximize the device’s storage. With a Chromebook, almost nothing is stored locally, so you won’t have to dedicate the same amount of time toward maintaining a clean device. And while you’ll need to pay attention to updates not only for your iPad’s operating system, but for the apps you’ve chosen to install, as well, a Chromebook automatically checks for and installs updates each time you start it. If you don’t mind updating apps and cleaning up your Camera Roll, then this may not be a deal breaker. But if you want to think about maintenance as little as possible, a Chromebook is likely a better choice for you.

I am sure it is possible to create a similar list favoring the iPad. The point is to not automatically assume that the iPad is the right choice for your and your law practice.

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