Question for iPad aficionados

My wife is currently using a Dell laptop as her main and only computer, but I am thinking it is about time for her to get something new. With her birthday coming up, I am considering getting her an iPad.

My question is, will she need access to another computer in order to get the most from an iPad, or can the iPad be her only computer? (We do have a wifi in the house, so she can get online, of course.) Her primary use for the computer is for storing photographs and social networking via Facebook, IM and e-mail. She does use a spreadsheet from time to time for keeping track of gardening issues (i.e. seeds and plantings).

Thank you for any advice you can give.


Hi Steve,

first of all you will need a computer with iTunes installed in order to activate your iPad.

After that, your wife will only need to connect to a computer, when she wants to synchronize content like Music, Video, Photos etc. Photos can also be directly uploaded to the iPad using the camera connection kit. Be aware that the iPad has no built in camera.

There are Apps for basic manipulation of photos and all the social networking Stuff can also be had (Twitterific, Facebook, you name it) through 3rd party apps, which can be downloaded from the Appstore right inside of the iPad. Apples own “Numbers” spreadsheet program is available as iPad Version for $9.99 and does the job pretty well.

However if she stores a lot of photos, be aware, that the iPad is a device with limited storage ressources, so she might need to put some photos on her laptop from time to time.



As said, you need a computer at least once to activate the device, but if you buy it at an Apple store, they will optionally activate it for you right after you buy it.

To replace a computer, you’ll probably want to invest in a compatible BlueTooth keyboard or the keyboard dock. Typing on the device is not too shabby, and improves with practice, but if she is accustomed to typing very fast, it might prove frustrating for 100% of all communication. One important thing to consider is that even if she uses it as a sole computing device, you’ll definitely want at least one computer that it connects to periodically, purely for the sake of backups. While it is definitely possible to store and display photos (it’s quite good at that, too) you wouldn’t want that to be the only copy in existence. Everything should be backed up, and that includes an iPad. This is done automatically whenever you plug it into iTunes, so as long as there is one computer in the house that it can be attached to on a regular basis, this should be fine. There is no built-in camera, but I believe third-party solutions are either on the way or already there—haven’t really checked that out. Saving images on the device while browsing is a piece of cake. You just tap and hold on the image in Safari and select the option to save it. I think this can be done from Mail as well, and many applications will let you save your results to the photo database.

IM and other social networking is well covered, there is even one application, Text+, that lets you hook up to your cellular phone account and send text messages in the same manner that you would use IM. For actual IM, there are a few chat programs that support a wide variety of protocols.

I haven’t tried Numbers, but I’ve heard that it is sufficient for simple, visually pleasing spreadsheets (not a lot of math) that don’t need to integrate with Excel (it only exports to PDF and Numbers).

Photo storage will probably be the weakest point. Not that it is lacking in the organisation and presentation of photos—it’s fantastic for that, and functioning as a photo album. Depending on the type of photos being stored, I think the 32gb or 64gb models could be sufficient. If she uses a camera that takes 12 megapixel RAW images that might go pretty fast, but for cameras that take 8–10mp JPEG images, that will last a while! I have no idea how well the device performs with thousands of images though.

Ioa and Oliver,

Thank you for the responses. That’s all very helpful. It sounds as if her Dell laptop might work fine as a backup computer. I’m not sure if she has iTunes on it or not, but we can easily install it.

Thank you, again!


As far as Numbers goes, I was pretty disappointed. You can’t merge cells, and you can’t scroll to the beginning of long formulas (this might have been fixed in the recent update). I asked for (and received) a refund.