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iPad or iMac? Which One to Buy this Holiday?

Reader Andraw recently posted us this question:

I’m trying to decide between buying an iPad or an iMac for myself as an early Christmas gift. I can only splurge on one, so which one should I get? I am a sports reporter for a local newspaper, and I already have a laptop. Thanks.

Well, these are both very cool products. And I can certainly understand why you’d be lusting for either one of them. So I understand why it’s a difficult decision.

As I’m sure you are aware, the iPad and the iMac are two distinctly different products. And they really serve different purposes. The iPad is small and portable. It’s really meant for doing things on the go. The touch screen makes this an ideal product for playing DVD movies, watching home video, viewing pictures, surfing some Web sites, playing games, accessing specialized applications, and reading books, magazines and newspapers.

By contrast, the iMac is an all-in-one desktop computer with a beautiful LED backlit screen. It comes in 27-inch and-21.5 inch sizes. It’s big and immobile, so it’s something that will become a fixture in your home and not something you’d travel with or even take from room to room. That said, the sleek design of the product and the beautiful glass screen is really nice enough to have it displayed anywhere in your home, including a living room or family room. The iMac is a total desktop replacement type computer. The only thing about an iMac that’s better than say a MacBook is a bit more storage. But then you can’t take it anywhere! If he wants something different and new, go with the iPad.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is what you want to do with your new Apple product. Second, you have to figure out how much you are willing to spend. You can get an iPad for as little as $499 with 16GB of storage. This is a Wi-Fi-only device, and getting one that also has 3G wireless connectivity via AT&T will cost you $629, plus data fees. Meanwhile, getting the iMac is a much greater investment. The cheapest one is $1,199 for the smallest screen with the slower processor. The high-end iMac goes for $1,999.

You said you already have a laptop. So you may not necessarily need the iMac.Go for the iPad because it’s new, different, and fun. The only real difference an iMac will provide for you is better performance, a larger screen, and non-portability, whereas the iPad will let you be magical. But if you’re in need of better performance for photo editing, the iMac might be a better way to go.

The iPad is equally cool, but in a much different way. It’s much more of a toy. But it’s not great for getting any work done or editing movies and pictures. iPad is a good travel companion and good for media consumption/games, but I think it’s hard/impossible for working, especially when that involves a lot of typing, cutting/pasting, and toggling between open windows.