Desktop Computer or iPad?

Updated on June 13, 2013
M.M. asks from San Antonio, TX
14 answers

I homeschool my son. He will be in 3rd grade this next school year. We have decided to get him his own computer to help free up mine during the day. I am trying to decide if I should get another desktop computer, which I love mine, or should I go with an iPad. I have never owned an iPad and know virtually nothing about them. The closest thing I have is a Nook Tablet, which is not a full blown tablet.

I would appreciate any input you could provide regarding the use of the iPad for educational purposes and what are the cons and pros vs. a desktop computer. I know it is portable and such so that is not what I am looking for. I'm looking more for info such as: can I print to a printer from the iPad, does the iPad have some type of a pointing device he can use (as he would a mouse), etc.

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answers from Austin on

I have a laptop, computer and ipad.

For what he will be doing a laptop will be the best choice. The ipad cannot do everything a laptop an do.

A laptop can be carried everywhere with a backpack or book bag.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Honolulu on

Laptop or Desktop computer.
A laptop is portable. Too.
a MAC.

Tablets uses apps.
Computers uses software.
Different OS systems. ie: "operating systems."

Go to an Apple store, they are very helpful.
Tell them what it will be used for.

We have both iPads/tablets and desktop computers and laptop.
If I were you, I would get an Apple laptop.
Tablets although fun and useful, a computer is more applicable for what you want it for.
And you want to be able to print from it.

Also, I would have your son learn how to type. ie: keyboarding as it is called with a computer. Being he is in 3rd grade already. And per any research/papers he will need to write/do, a computer is better for that.
This is a link for learning typing, for free. Recommended by my daughter's teacher.
ETA: if you go to an Apple store, and have an Apple/MAC product, they have free classes on anything you want or need to learn, on it.
Take advantage of this. People of ALL ages, take these classes. They have kid classes too.

Get a computer.
A laptop.
Most all schools, use MAC/Apple computers in the classroom. And the software for it.
It is easy to use.
And if you have other MAC's in your home, you can sync it all together, and you can manage them all. And to learn how to do this, you can take those Apple classes too. Or with your son.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You want a laptop. For starters, lots of the things he currently does on your computer he won't be able to do on a tablet. You would need an iPad, best selection of apps, but a lot of educational websites require a computer.

You can buy a station to make the iPad like a laptop, but again, software is different.

We currently only have one computer and tons of tablets --hubby is in computers. We bought our oldest a tablet for Xmas and I am regretting it. There aren't that many good, quality educational apps for androids, and since you can run most educational websites on it, my daughter ends up playing my little pony all the time. She will sometimes do Ed. Apps on my iPad, but I prefer her playing on the computer.

We will be buying both kids laptops in the near future.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It depends on what he's going to use it for. We homeschool and I use both my laptop and an iPad.

The advantages of the iPad are there are some really neat learning apps. We have one that does flash cards and there are memory games, math games, etc. There's Khan Academy for free courses and BrainPop for free (and paid) videos. There are a wealth of YouTube videos that are easy to see on the iPad. We use the NetFlix app to watch educational videos as well. You can do all of this on a computer as well, but my daughter likes to curl up in her chair with just the iPad sometimes and play an educational game or watch a video. I did buy a keyboard as well to use with it so it does work like a mini computer. You CAN print from an iPad but you either need a special program or a special printer (they make printers that print from iOS devices). It's all touch screen, so very easy to use.

She also used the iPad to make videos, take pictures and other fun things. She likes the drawing apps, and it doesn't use any paper! She can get so creative with it!

Now that my daughter is older, she also has a laptop. We use the laptop for special sites like Always Ice Cream (for girls) and other educational websites made for computers. She is also learning how to type. While the iPad has a word processing program that you can buy and use with the keyboard just like a computer, it's much easier to use the one on the computer.

If you already have a computer that you would let your son use if he needed one, then I suggest the iPad at his age. It's going to cost you for the case, cover, keyboard, etc. but we found that it is a valuable asset to our homeschooling. Personally I found it easier to use than a laptop for teaching because it's less cumbersome and so portable. Before she got her laptop she would use the iPad and I would use my laptop just fine. She can surf the web easily on the iPad if she needed to (not that I let her just surf the web!!).

You also might find yourself stealing it! I keep my recipes on there and I use it to watch NetFlix when I'm cleaning the kitchen (I have an under cabinet mount that is awesome!)

Good luck with your decision!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I agree with the others as well, however, I would go the laptop route. It gives you the flexibility of traveling with you.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from College Station on

iPads are great for education- 2 of my sons use them on a regular basis. They write class notes, essays, reports, etc. BUT- if you do not have the latest air printer you will not be able to print. My boys email their stuff to themselves and either print their stuff at school or one of our desktops at home. iPads are touch screen, but you can get an attachable keyboard. Not sure about a mouse, though. THey do make a stylus for the iPad. But with all the accessories and that adds up quick, I would go with a small macbook instead.

You could go with a small macbook for a little more money and a lot more flexibility and longevity. A decent 13" macbook *should* run about $1000 and you can get a refurbished model with the same warrantee as a new one. And of course, applecare is a must (for whichever you chose to buy).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

iPad is great for surfing the web, checking email and social media. It's not great for actual work - eg, making word documents, powerpoints, etc (my child isn't home schooled, but he does need to do this kind of work for his homework). No external mouse, because it's a touchscreen. Plus you can only see a small portion of the screen when using the on-screen keyboard, unless you also buy a separate bluetooth keyboard.

So, I say desktop - or laptop if you want something smaller or portable.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Waco on

PC or Mac for work, iPad for the "fun" stuff - surfing the web, listening to music, checking email, or social media. I have both. I'm a huge gadget nerd, but if i had to do without one or the other, I would definitely give the PC or Mac top priority and get rid of the iPad. I just can't do the "important" stuff on it. HTH!



answers from New York on

I think for school, a desktop or laptop would be best. You can get a refurbished on for pretty cheap. He needs a mouse and a keyboard. In fact, get a MAC computer if you can. It's what all of the kids use these days.



answers from Portland on

I found the iPad to be fairly dicey to deal with if you are used to working with a mouse on a regular desktop computer. I'd also encourage a desktop computer simply because it stays put. Less likely to be damaged and you'll have visual access to the screen when you keep it in the household's common areas. I think, for this age, the iPad offers a bit too much privacy while viewing (as evidenced by the middle schoolers I see who bring their iPads to school for class and then hastily act suspicious when they see the teacher walk close... one can only guess what they are looking at!).


answers from Los Angeles on

We love our IPads but I think you should definety go with a desktop computer for school work! No question, IMHO.



answers from Los Angeles on

Laptop! You can move it around the house, take it a comfy spot or take
it with you on vacation to a hotel or relative's house, etc.



answers from Los Angeles on

It depends. I would say if you travel a lot the ipad would be great. you can get a keyboard for them too! Laptops are more sturdy and can load a lot more on them. Some games need a lot of room. Laptops can handle those.



answers from Washington DC on

Like most, I would go desk/Lap top route. When it comes to iPads you are either pecking on the screen to type or you have to add accessories (ie keyboard) to type. Like others said, you will need to download apps (some free, others not) where as with a desk/lap top you will have an operating system that may be more universal and I have yet to purchase a computer that doesn't already come with the OS included (though, I know they are out there). While I think iPads are nice, they are pricey and I personally don't think that is what I would buy for my 3rd graders first computer....that's just me and I tend to be a bit old school. :o)

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