You can use just an iPad (or higher-end Android tablet such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1) for many things -- I write and edit on it, as well as create and deliver presentations, for example.
But many people will still need a laptop for its ability to use a much larger screen and multiple windows, as well as to use a mouse for its precision, ability to manipulate interface objects on the Web (such as drag handles) that aren't supported by touch gestures, and better ergonomics when using a vertical screen. (Keyboards are already easy to use with tablets.) Although you can mirror an iPad's screen to a monitor, you don't get more pixels, much less multiple windows.
I doubt we'll such enhancements from Apple today. An adaptive iPad would be a huge leap forward, creating a tablet that is simple when used by itself and a portable PC when docked (wirelessly, no doubt) with other peripherals and resources.
I believe we'll end up there in a few years -- there've been unsatisfying attempts at adaptive computing -- but the computer industy is focused on nearer-term issues. Apple makes a lot of money from both iPads and MacBooks, with many people buying both, so it's in no rush to merge the devices and cut profits as a result. Smart Apple peripherals likely wouldn't make up the difference. Google so far is treating Chromebooks and Android devices as barely related devices, and it has neither the apps nor the hardware skills to drive forward the adaptive tablet today. Microsoft's Surface Pro comes the closest to the concept, except that it works terribly as a tablet, killing its chances today.
Apple CEO Tim Cook would rather cannibalize Apple sales with new Apple products than have other companies do it to Apple -- he said so when the lower-cost iPad Mini debuted. I hope he takes that same attitude to plotting the adaptive iPad in the not-too-distant future. It would reinvent personal computing, again. But he didn't do it today.
This article, "The new iPads: Want thrills? Look elsewhere," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.