Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Extended thoughts on the iPad

May 23, 2010 by · 6 Comments 

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I’ve had a chance to play with an iPad for a week now and I must say I’m still confused about this device.

What’s funny is that every time that I say “I’m confused” about it, someone else that has it starts telling me what it’s great for.. and I agree with them wholeheartedly, but I’m still left with the question of ‘do I really need it?’

I’m an Apple fan because they make good stuff… not because I like Apple, period. If tomorrow someone else makes good stuff, I’ll switch to that.. but as we’ve seen over the past few years, very few have come even close to matching the products and ecosystem Apple has created.

The iPhone was, for me, one of these excellent products. Its integration with my Macbook, and syncing with MobileMe made it VERY useful. I am highly unlikely to switch away from the iPhone because of how well it does what I need it to do… SMS, audiobooks/music, apps, calendar, addressbook, and mail on the go.

When I saw the iPad, I was wondering, would it replace my laptop when I’m at home or traveling, or would it replace my iPhone for day to day tasks at home or on the go?

First, let me start by saying that the device itself is beautiful… a bit ‘heavy’ (perhaps to hold for extended periods of time reading), but with a beautiful screen, and the battery life is good. The speaker sound quality is nice and loud (for what it is). Apps for the iPhone scale up and work fine, and iPad specific apps work really well in their resolution, but are priced at a premium (oh well).

That said, I decided to see which one of my two devices the iPad could potentially replace, either my phone or my laptop (both at home and on the go).

To test the replace my laptop on the go theory, I thought about all the things I would need to do when I’m away traveling, including the purchasing of items over the web, web banking, product research and taking notes of calls and organizing them. The lack of flash and a file system made it very hard for me to replace my laptop with the iPad. I realize that I may perhaps be an odd man out with my requirements, so I loaned it to a friend who wanted to look around for some home linens, and then she gave up when the site only had images in Flash. Fail.

So, unless I’m going to watch a movie or TV show on the go… the iPad is not a good replacement for my laptop. At home, yes, I could pick it up instead of my laptop to browse the web, but again.. the Flash issue rears its ugly head.

How about the apps? Surely they’re better? Yes.. particularly games, but many of the apps I use are dependent on my moving around. Being out and about.. and I don’t think I’d like to carry the iPad with my everywhere I DO take my iphone with me.

So can the iPad replace the iPhone? No. A Clear no.

As a music player… I use my iPhone to listen to music and audiobooks. Whilst the iPad can do the exact same thing, I like using my iPhone because when someone calls me or texts me, I don’t miss it. The iPhone will interrup the music to let me know of the incoming call or message. This is a KEY thing about having the music player in the phone: so you don’t miss communication requests.

As an addressbook/calendar… If I’m at home, again, I’m more likely to use my laptop as I can research things about a location better on a laptop browser than switching around between mail, safari, and calendar on the iPad. However, the key thing here is mobility… when do I use my addressbook? When I receive a call from an unknown number that I then want to add to my addressbook, or when I want to make a call and/orĀ  want to route to a friends address or restaurant. All of these things can only be done on the iPhone (since you can’t make calls on the iPad; you can do the routing though). When I add stuff to my calendar on my iPhone, again, it’s because I’m not at my desk or at home and am ‘on the go’ and most likely wouldn’t have something as large as the iPad in my possession anyway. Think about when you add stuff.. at a BBQ, social event, night club, bar, etc… you’re not likely to add stuff from the iPad you’re not carrying.

As an email platform… ok, for this, it may be a tie.. since I think your ability to compose better emails will be better on the iPad, but again, I use my phone to check emails when on the go, and then choose to reply in a ‘more elaborate’ fashion to those emails that are important when back home as my touch typing speed is far faster than that of a virtual keypad. However, I could see myself enjoying the iPad more as an email management tool when on holiday over the iPhone.

As a reader… ok.. in this one it wins hands down. If you like to read.. magazines, news, or books, this device is good for all of that. Period. Beats the laptop hands down. I’m undecided if it beats the Kindle in terms of hardware for reading though, because I can see myself getting distracted with the iPad, but being that the iPad includes the Kindle store (via an App), it wins by the sheer number of books. Keep in mind that reading in the sun with the iPad’s screen would be challenging.

So do I not like the iPad then?

No, that would be incorrect. I do like it, but I do think its use case is a bit limited to either media consumption (viewing videos/TV shows), playing games (does very well), and email management with light web browsing while on the go. I think OS 4.0 will bring a lot to the iPad, but I think that it won’t be for everyone. The iPad lacks Flash which ultimately kills it for me as a replacement for my laptop… but I could see myself using it more for reading than anything else.

For someone that has light trips frequently within one country (no roaming fees), the 3G model would be great. For someone who has kids and wants to have a pretty awesome entertainment tool, it’s a no-brainer. For someone that wants to have it as a secondary computer for friends or family to use when visiting, it’s ok. For someone that likes playing games.. again, pretty cool. For someone that wants to read eBook, very good. However, if you don’t have a specific use case that you want from the device to tote it around, you may find your toy may go unused after the initial novelty wears off.

One thing that I forgot to add is that I’m increasingly hearing about niche uses for the iPad.. such as a dedicated in-flight entertainment option for the airlines to give out to passengers… Ok.. I can see that.. I can also see the iPad, because of its dimensions and capabilities end up being used for other business type applications such as package tracking (arrivals), asset management, medical record tracking, updating and lookups, car/airplane maintenance assistance etc… Music creation for example.. is an offshoot of the original set of apps that Apple has put the iPad out there for. In other words, the iPad will probably become a platform for many new and interesting things to come, but buying one right now for its core apps is what I’m discussing in this post. In the future if everyone is using an iPad because of some cool-new-yet-to-be-coded-app, it will be because you buy it for that app because you see the value of that app at the time.. since it doesn’t exist right now other than the current ecosystem, you’re buying it for the apps that exist right now, which I’ve summarized above. Sorry if that sounds confusing… it’s a time loop.

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