Tuesday, April 06, 2010

What the iPad is not

Inevitably on the launch of a new device, especially one with as much advance publicity as the iPad, there is a round of criticism.  I have been amused by some of the initial criticism of the iPad.   Indeed, the iPad does not wash your care, burp your baby or counsel you on financial matters.

The criticisms I have seen are typified in a column in Live Science called "13 Glaring iPad Shortcomings" the correspondent comments ( I have combined some of the comments together) -
It's Awkward, heavy and slippery -  In my couple of days with the device it begins to feel right.  The screen size is wonderful for looking at things like newspapers.  Compared to most laptops it is lighter.  Compared to the Kindle (at least the smaller model) it is heavier but it does more.  I mentioned in my initial review about the weight (which is about the same as a big book) but as I have begun to use the iPad, it seems to be just fine.   I put mine in the Apple case - which has a less slick back,  I suspect very quickly there will be lots of other cases to make it less slippery (if that is a real problem - which from my experience it is not).
The writer's next three comments relate to the screen - it has too much glare, can't be used in the sun and has fingerprints problems - In my actual use I have not experienced any of those problems.  Just as with my iPhone, I carry a small soft cloth, so when I watched Wag the Dog on it - I wiped the screen off.  The stand in the Apple case is ideal for watching movies.
It does not multitask - This is a persistent criticism of the iPhone and iPod.  I may be simple minded but most of the time I don't multitask either.   Can I listen to music and do a spreadsheet?  Easy.  But can I watch a movie and read a book?  I am not sure I would want to.  The rumors on the next operating system suggest that for those addicted to multitasking there may be a solution in sight.
The browser is limited - I am not a consistent user of Safari.  I am not bothered by the lack of flash.  The ability to surf the web is pretty good.  The correspondent suggests that you cannot create Google docs on the device.  That seems to be true - although it was easy (and indeed easier than my laptop) to edit them.
The virtual keyboard stinks - I am not sure the writer actually tried to use the virtual keyboard.  I like it. It is simple and very responsive.  I have also tried the bluetooth keyboard which I like.  One shortcoming in some people's thoughts is the lack of a mouse.  Apple argues that the multitouch screen eliminates the need for a mouse.  For now I think the keyboard options on the iPad are great for how you will use the device.
There's no USB port - There is also no 9 pin connector.  Apple has chosen in its recent portable devices to limit the number of ports - after all the device is supposed to be portable.  The real issue here is can you get it to do what you want it to do?  Can it connect to a projector?  Sure in a couple of ways.  That should be the real question - can it do what you want it to do?
iPhone-only apps look horrible - This device made a compromise which I think was wise.  It allowed any iPhone ap to be used on the larger screen.  But it outputs them in the size of a phone ap.  If you choose you can double the size to make it bigger and if you do the resolution degrades just a bit.  I use the Southwest ap a lot and so put it on my iPad. It looks great in normal size.  And it works well.  I suspect that very quickly if the device is as popular as it seems to be that the most useful aps will migrate to the larger screen size and higher resolution.
The price is just too high - This one is funny.  Five years ago getting a device the size and capabilities of the iPad for ten times the price would have been impossible.   I bought the biggest model with a warranty so indeed I spent the full $1000. (with accessories including cables and case and an airplane hookup).  Compared to the less functional Kindle which is about a third, or the more expensive Air - which is a traditional laptop or the cheapest Macbook - which is about the same price - with less portability - I think the price is right.
The writer's last criticism is correct - the iPad doesn't replace anything - It does combine some functions in a very portable device - not one to stick in your pocket but one that you can carry with you and use constantly (did I mention the superb battery life?)  From my perspective that sounds like a pretty good bargain. The writer comments that the Ipad is in a class of its own as Apple proved with the iPhone - that is a pretty good place to be.

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