Apple’s head honcho unveiled the iPad last Wednesday. The iPad didn’t live up to its hype. But that was inevitable. How could it, unless it cured cancer, caused world peace …
But now that the hype has been replaced by reality, what do we have? And will I – the ultimate sucker for the next great device – buy the iPad when it becomes available in the next 60–90 days?
What the iPad is (and isn’t)
“Isn’t” is easier. The iPad isn’t a phone like the iPhone. Though it may work with VOIP using Skype or the like. The iPhone also isn’t a replacement notebook like the MacBook. The iPad shares its OS with the iPhone, not the MacBook. Granted, the iPad will have a lite version of iWork. But work usage likely will be to view content, not create it.
Ok, what is it? Perhaps a very large (9.7” screen) iPod? After all, same OS, form factor, apps and closed ecosystem.
So why get a more expensive and non-pocketable iPod? To paraphrase a political saying of yore, it’s the screen size, stupid. No matter how good a 3.5” screen, it’s still 3.5”, and viewing the web (or video) necessarily is limited by the small size. The iPad also has a more powerful (1 GHz) processor which will make viewing videos smoother, transitions faster, etc.
No Flash. Geez, the iPad is supposed to be a web consumption device — and a lot of the web is Flash. I know; HTML 5 is supposed to kill off Flash (and Silverlight too). Maybe, but we’re not there yet, so in the meantime, I want Flash support. Seriously, this could be a deal breaker for me.
No multi-tasking. Maybe I don’t need multi-tasking or a phone or a PMP. But the iPad is a laptop lite (e.g., iWork).
More minor disappointments. No SD slot. Yes, there’ll be an adapter. But an adapter is just something else to carry … and lose. Similarly, no USB port. Instead, another adapter. PITA. Non-removable battery. Well, I gave up hope on a removable battery a while back.
Much has been written that the iPad will displace the Kindle, and its brethren such as the Nook, as an eReader. Indeed, the iPad has advantages as an eReader. The iPad is not a single-purpose device like the Kindle. (Though this may be changing). The iPad doesn’t need an external light attachment when there isn’t enough ambient light. It’s touch … and color.
The iPad has yet another advantage over the Kindle. Not all eReader content is plain text. There’s also pictures and diagrams. One Kindle disappointment for me is the poor job it did displaying inline code in computer programming books. The iPad should do a great job displaying all these formats. This becomes more important when viewing newspapers, magazines, etc.
Yet, the iPad has disadvantages as an eReader. It’s light and svelte for its form factor. But it’s still significantly larger and heavier than the Kindle. Makes a difference when you’re holding your eBook for an extended period. Though for how long? The iPad’s battery life is measured in hours, not the Kindle’s days. And as the hours pass, will the iPad get iHot? Also, if you want to synch over 3G, that’s another extra monthly expense. So to me, the jury’s still out on whether the iPad will be a Kindle killer.
The iPad should be an excellent sofa surfing device. (As for stall surfing, we won’t go there). I can see myself, in my lazy boy chair, eReading or checking my email and the web while watching cultural events on TV like MMA.
I’d like to be able to read documents for work. These documents are primarily in PDF format. This is doable on the iPad. However, normally I’d have these documents on a SD card or USB key instead of onboard storage. That !@#$%^&* adapter issue again.
I’d also like to be able to mark up PDF documents (highlighting, notes, etc.). Very doable on a Tablet PC. Unclear if doable on the iPad. There are stylii that work on capacitive screens, including the iPhone. But the extent of the iPad’s inking support may be little to none.
Will I get it?
Dunno. I like the iPad’s form factor. But the limitations – primarily no Flash support, but also likely no inking support, no native USB or SD ports – are problematic. So as usual, I’ll dither. But at least I have another 60 days to do so, when the first, non-3G iPads are supposed to be available.