Your iPad Will Replace Your Laptop (but not in the way you think)

I’m frequently asked if the iPad can replace a laptop. “Sure the iPad is suitable for younger students,” the argument goes, “but older high schoolers or college students need to do real work.” True enough: the iPad lacks several important items that would make it a ‘real work’ machine: keyboard, storage space, serious apps, printing just to name a few.


Before we consider if the iPad can replace a laptop, let’s look at what it already replaces:

  • Textbooks (Say I’m using just two iBook textbooks, savings over  print: $200)
  • Graphing calculator (App vs. additional device, savings: $100)
  • Camera (free vs. additional device, savings: $30)
  • Voice memo recorder (App vs. additional device, savings: $25)
  • Notebooks and assorted pens, pencils, filler paper, section dividers (App vs. just five (empty) binders, savings: $24)

I’m just getting started and I’ve already replaced two books, five notebooks, three extra devices, and saved almost $400. How much does a new iPad cost anyway?


These days I use my laptop less and less as a portable computer, compared to my iPad it’s just too clunky for simple daily tasks and too underpowered for my real work. The next computer I buy will be a fully tricked out desktop so when I’m ready to work I have all the RAM, hard drive, and monitor space I need. The iPad can replace textbooks, calculators, and other extra devices and academic equipment at close to net zero right now. Why not replace those things with an iPad and get a desktop at home?


What do you think? How has an iPad or other tablet changed the way you work? How should we structure BYOD and 1:1 programs as a result?

Hans Mundahl

Hans Mundahl

Director of Technology Integration at New Hampton School

I've been an educator since 1995 when I first stepped into the classroom as a Fulbright exchange teacher in the former East Germany. Since then I've been an Outward Bound instructor, a teacher, tutor, admission officer, house head, evening administrator on duty and I ran the experiential learning program at New Hampton School for almost ten years. Today I focus on technology integration centered on values-driven technology integration and 1:1 iPad initiatives. Recently I had the chance to help New Hampton School become an Apple Distinguished School and I co-authored the iBook Teaching with the iPad (available on the iBookstore). Now I'm the founder of a scrappy little company (one employee!) called Hans Mundahl and Associates, inc a digital strategy consultancy for schools and non-profits. My free time is usually spent with my family but I'm also passionate about the outdoors and protecting the environment. I'm on the Board of Trustees at the Newfound Lake Region Association and when I have the chance I'm an active hiker, climber, and paddler. My writing appears on and I speak frequently at technology and education conferences.