27 Jan The iPad – My Two Cents
Well, Apple finally did it. They’ve released the long anticipated, mysterious, and fabled legend of the Apple tablet PC. However, what we got was the iPad… The device Mr. Jobs presented, wasn’t a PC (as in “personal computer” not the Microsoft powered variety), nor did its LCD lit innards (ie the OS) bear any resemblance to the MacBook’s OSX (yes I realize the glossy dock at the bottom, and wallpaper are both OSX-like… Doesn’t count!). In short I (among others based on the internet comments I’ve read so far), am unimpressed. I’m surprised this thing wasn’t designed to address the concerns of it’s iPhone/iTouch fans, considering it appears to have been conceptualized based on the iPhone and iTouch. The thing has no multi-tasking, no camera, no Flash Player and simply runs a steroid induced version of the iTouch OS. Nothing new, nothing revolutionary about it really. At first I assumed it was a cross between a MacBook and an iTouch, but on further investigation I found that it’s not even close. I don’t see why someone wouldn’t just buy a MacBook Air, which can do virtually everything the iPad can do and more at a marginally higher price. Hell, the Air is supposedly even LIGHTER than the iPad. As many have put it, it’s “just an iTouch but bigger”, and sadly this statement is not far from truth.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s no place for the iPad, and I’m not saying it’s horrible. As far as the iTouch line-up goes, it’s DEFINATELY an improvement on the iTouch/iPhone family. The screen is larger and gorgeous (from what I can see), the OS is much more responsive (judging by Engadget hands-on video), and browsing the internet looks like a fantastic and joyful experience. The larger screen size and boost in computing power means viewing websites and digital media will be much easier and faster then ever before. The device is also just as purty as I would expect from an Apple product. It looks sleek, glossy, minimal, clean, and sexy. All things I’d want from a new, must-have gadget. The fact that iWork is now available for this device, as well as many improvements to the built-in apps, are definitely welcome.
Personally I was hoping they would present a device closer to an iTouchified MacBook. I was hoping for something with open hard-drive storage and finder, something that can multi-task, something with MMS built-in, something that can handle video-conferencing on the fly, something that can integrate with my other media devices around the house, a chat program that runs on the sidelines, something that can finally handle flash like OSX browsers, something that can project holographic data in 3D space, signal the alien motherships… You know the basics… It almost feels like Apple overestimated their iTouch/iPhone success and decided that people simply would clamor for more of that on a larger scale. Apple appears to be shooting to fully realize their online store model (read:$$$$) by creating a locked down device where people can buy their hearts out. They’ve introduced a more powerful mobile iTunes store, App store, and now an E-Book store to boot. It may be revolutionary to Apple’s big wig pocket books, but to the average consumer, it just sounds silly to call this a revolution. Several years ago, going from a dinky Motorola that just makes calls and sends txts, to a gorgeous and robust multi-touch digital media center, PDA, communication and office station in the palm of your hand; now THAT was a revolution!
At this point I think it’s worth briefly noting that I believe the iPad DOES have the potential of bridging the gap between smartphones and desktops, forcing corporations and organizations to tailor their websites and digital media to be more accessible to a wider audience. Safari on the iPad probably already rivals Safari on a MacBook, but being a mobile device, bandwidth limitations will need to be seriously considered, as well as issues of Flash accessibility if the iPad catches on as widespread phenomenon (not only just as an Apple product, but competitor imitations as well). I know on my iPhone there are plenty websites that consistently display poorly, buggy, or not at all by using Flash as a platform, or crashing my iPhone Safari.
I for one, look for more than just a media platform in which I can buy and view digital media and content. I want a productivity tool, something I can install Firefox and something powerful and robust enough to run software like Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash. This device does none of those things, although, I should give it credit for integrating iWork in the mix. That’s definately a step forward, but with no hard-drive it seems it would be difficult to use this thing as you would a laptop, transferring files and folders from system to system. I also don’t understand how you can have a tablet with no hand-writing software. Even if hand-writing is becoming more and more obsolete as a way of inscribing official documents, they still could of added it as a side-thought at least (or maybe they have and I haven’t noticed?).
So, in conclusion, when my iPhone finally gives out, or when I feel like I have money to waste on something fun, this thing could be useful (I guess it wouldn’t really replace my iPhone without phone functionality, would it?). There will be a lot of die hard fan boys and average Joe office workers who will clamour for this, I’m sure. I can definately see myself enjoying this thing on my couch, or when I’m out of town without my desktop. It’s a toy with potential to be more. If some really powerful apps (Photoshop/Flash iPad) are developed for it, perhaps I will consider purchasing one, but for now, sitting at a $499 USD (low-end model) – $829 USD price tag (high-end model) it seems like the MacBook Air is still the closest thing to a Tablet MacBook any of us are going to get.