Is the iPad Worth the Price?

The Apple iPad may look cool, but is it with $500 and up to get in the game? Sure, we love Angry Birds as much as the rest of you, but the lack of Flash and the iPad’s tendency to overheat in the sun means it may not be as useful as you’d think. Here’s what to think about if you’re still debating whether it’s worth the expense.

Can the iPad replace my laptop? If you don’t need a lot of processing power, you may be able to ditch your laptop for an iPad. Apple’s $69 keyboard dock and an iPad copy of the iWork suite, available for $30, let you create and edit documents, including Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. To save memory, you’ll probably want to store your documents on a cloud-based service, so it’s important that you have wireless internet access whenever you need it. Depending on the type of work you do, the iPad may give you everything you need, but it also may not yet be an adequate laptop substitute.

How frequently do I travel? The iPad’s primary use, of course, is as a leisure device — and it’s an excellent means for amusing yourself on a long airplane or train ride. It’s ideal for watching movies, listening to music, and playing a huge variety of games.

Do I need to stay up-to-date on the news? Since the iPad is far more portable than even the smallest laptop, it’s ideal for reading websites while waiting in line, lying in bed, or even riding the subway. Instead of burning the midnight oil at your desk, you could download industry news stories to your iPad using an app such as InstaPaper — and read them at your convenience whenever you have a free moment. If your favorite publications have free web content, you may be able to cut back on your subscriptions.

Can I use an iPad to give client or customer presentations? Some upscale restaurants are using iPads to display wine lists, and some retailers use iPads to display product inventory and information. This can provide a richer customer experience in many ways: For instance, not only can a diner look at a restaurant wine list; he can touch each item to read the tasting notes and see reviews from outside sources. No matter what industry you’re in, incorporating iPads into sales pitches can give consumers a more interactive and multimedia-rich experience than traditional presentation tools like projectors or paper marketing materials.

Can I claim my iPad as a business expense? The iPad poses a much smaller blow to your bank account if you can claim it as a tax-deductible business expense. Before purchasing one, think about what business applications it will have, and whether you’ll spend more time using it for work purposes than you will playing games or watching videos. If you can honestly say that you’ll use it primarily for work, the IRS shouldn’t have a problem with the deduction.

About Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is a principal at the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media. She's written about business, marketing, and entrepreneurship for publications including BNET, TheAtlantic.com, Inc.com, and owns and operates the positive news site Gimundo. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynhawkins.
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