… and I just don’t get it. Quite nothing I’ve seen so far on this topic made me jump and scream „OMG WANT WANT WANT“. The iPad is nothing other already available tablets are. Quite the opposite I think. It is a „larger“ iPhone which might work nice for small devices, but for a device settled between mobile phones and real computers it is way too closed and restricted in its usage. I just can’t see myself sitting with this thing on the couch and use it the way I’d like to use a portable computer in that size.
What is the expected usage of this thing? Here are a few options reports point out on a regular basis:
Reading eBooks: Using an active display with background lighting results in eyestrain when using it for a longer period of time, I guess everyone felt like that at some point sitting in front of the computer. I surely did. So while it might be good for a quick readout of newspapers in the bus or train it surely is unsuitable for reading books. Thats why there are „real“ eBook readers with ePaper _without_ background lighting. They consume way less power and are more friendly to the eye, it almost seems like reading a real book. So for eBook it’s a NO GO.
Listening to music: The integrated music player surely is nice. Let’s remember apple has a long history of portable media players. While the software may be great, let’s also remember the size of this thing. Nearly 25cm in height and 19cm in width. Not exactly nice for a portable music player? It is a nice addition as you will be able to listen music while doing something else, but for the sole purpose of listening music go get a real portable media player.
Watching videos/movies: That aspect ratio of the iPad isn’t really suitable for watching videos, but if you can live with black borders around the picture that might work nicely. The screen is supposed to have a perfect view so I guess that might work, but you will have to decide what you wan’t to be able to see on the road as the storage sizes aren’t that big and the greater sizes are also a bit more expensive and you might to recode your videos to be able to watch them on the iPad (just like iPhone/iPod touch), or you buy them on iTunes.
Playing games: It is said that every software that runs on the iPhone/iPod touch will also run on the iPad. That also include a load of games. Now remember the size again and the fact that you only can control your games through the touchscreen. Can you imagine holding such a monster as a gaming console in your hand and play? I can’t. Imagine it laying flat on the table and you control with both hands on the touchscreen? Watching straight down all the time? There is no integrated stand, so if you want a more convenient position for the iPad you’d need to buy a extra stand. I’m not quite sure how configurable that would be, but it would be an in house solution only, so not very „portable“. So gaming might work at home, but not on the road.
Surfing the net: That would run nicely I guess. The screen is adequately big, the touchscreen will be comparable to the iPhone which is excellent, so surfing and working on web pages will work OK. Future will tell if writing on this thing will be comfortable as you probably need to use both hands so there is the stand problem again.
Office use: There will be iWork for the iPad. I don’t know what you use for writing, but I just can’t get to terms with Pages. So I can only talk about Keynote which I really like. Now what is the use of a tablet for work, especially with a presentation tool, if I can’t natively attach it to something I can present the presentation with. The iPad has only ONE connector to connect ANY device to it. It is a proprietary connector, so you’ll have to buy way overpriced adapters to connect anything to the iPad. Additionally as far as I know in the near future there will be no adapter to connect any display device to the iPad. So no presentations with the use of the iPad. DUH! So work is better suited with a real computer, so better go for a laptop here.
So much for the basic usage that is talked about elsewhere. What about extended usage?
Developing iPad Apps: So you might want to develop for the iPad. There are a few restrictions for doing this.
1. You can’t develop on the device it self. You only can develop on a real computer.
2. You can’t develop on windows although you can USE the iPad with Windows through iTunes for Windows. You can ONLY and EXCLUSIVELY develop for the iPad on Mac OS X just like developing for the iPhone/iPod Touch.
3. You can’t just put your newly developed App into the world by setting it for Download on your private or companies Website. You absolutely need to use the iTunes Store, where Apple dictates which Apps it will allow to be sold or distributed for free and which not. So even if you put a lot of effort into developing a nice App that may be useful or just funny you have no chance of knowing if your App will ever make it out into the public. There are many sides to view here, and most of them have been discussed already. There will be another post sometime later where I discuss my personal feelings regarding developing and distributing the apple way so thats it on this mater for the moment.
Developing other things on the iPad: While the size and the controls itself seem nice for developing i.e. web pages or web apps on the fly when beeing on the road or visiting a customer I just don’t see it happening. Firstly there would be needed a software todo so. Secondly I don’t see uploading changed code on the road. As I understand it you would be required to sync the changed files through iTunes to a computer and upload it from there. So whatever you do, you absolutely still need a computer to develop for the Web. For everything else: well you won’t be able to run the writen code on the iPad, so you can’t test what you did.
Result: Developing is a NO GO!
Now I ask what is left? Absolutely only surfing the net (and may be listening to music while you do that). The only thing really usable about the iPad is webbrowser. So this thing is a portable webbrowser for >=500$. Is that really worth it? It seems that many people think so as I’ve read reports that preorders go into hundrets of thousands already. And I still don’t get it 🙁
I won’t tell you if you should buy it or not, but do me and yourself a favor: Before you jump and preorder PLEASE wait until that thing is out in the open and look out for reviews of people that really use it. If you have the opportunity go into an apple store and try it out. Don’t buy it just because it is an apple device and the commercials look so nice! Take a look at alternatives before you buy as Apple is really not the first to release a tablet! My personal preference lies with the archos product line at the moment (take a look at the Archos 9 PC-Tablet or the Archos 7).
Regarding the „surfing“ there is also the huge setback: the iPad does not and for the near future will not support flash! So no streaming video!