On the 27th of January the whole tech world had it’s eyes on what Apple was about to release. It had been hyped ad nauseum, and everyone expected something as revolutionary as the iPhone. It would single-handedly kill the netbook and the Kindle (and other e-readers, for that matter), and be the next step in how we interact with computers.
As soon as Steve Jobs gave birth to the iPad, the Internet went crazy with all the reviews/opinions about this new device. Everyone was in awe because of its slickness and beautiful design. And the ease of use of the multitouch, and the lightness and thinness of it. It looked perfect.
While more details kept being revealed, the first doubts started to appear, and by the end of the keynote the fight started. On one side the die-hard fans of Apple defended it as something magical. On the other the Apple-haters that automatically discard every Apple product without even looking at it. And somewhere in between the ones that looked at it with a critical eye, trying to make sense of this new thing.
I’ve avoided commenting on it earlier because I wanted to know what I’m talking about before giving my opinion. Now that I’ve read way too many stuff about the iPad (the only thing missing is the experience of holding one), I’m ready to share my opinion about it.
And to put it short and simple: the iPad is a useless device. Allow me to elaborate:
It’s not the best way to browse the web
One of the things I heard more than once during the iPad promotional video was “the iPad is the best web surfing experience”. Well I’ll have to disagree with that. It can be argued that it’s the best way to browse the web in a mobile device, but then again, calling the iPad a mobile device is debatable (it’s small, but not small enough for my pocket, unless I get the iPants…).
The big problem: no support for Flash! Which means that you won’t be able to use that gorgeous screen on all those video sites on the web. Not to mention all the games and other apps.
While there are some arguments for Apple’s choice to not enable it, how can a device be considered “the best way to browse the web” if one of the most ubiquitous web technologies is not present? Start getting used to the blue legos…
No multitasking or file management system
Because it uses some variant of the iPhone OS, there’s no multitasking in the iPad. This means you can’t listen to Spotify and browse the web at the same time. No working in Pages while making a VoIP call. And the list goes on…
And because of the closed nature of all things Apple, there’s no simple way to transfer files to and from the iPad. Why is this relevant? Well, it means all the media files will have to be synced through iTunes, which always involves conversions to the mad Apple formats. There’s no way to just drag and drop them over WiFi or using a USB Mass Storage Device.
Not to mention all the documents produced with iWork (which even deserved to be ported to the iPad). Where will those go? And while we’re in this department, how can a device coined as a “great productivity tool” lack the support for non-Apple office software (Microsoft and Openoffice).
It’s not the best way to watch movies
Again, the iPad video… (that thing is so over the top… it’s ridiculous). Full HD is not supported, 720p will be the maximum. Also, the display is not widescreen. So any widescreen movie will be framed inside yet more black space (in addition to the bevel, which is not that small).
These are not huge problems, but the “best movie watching experience” should take care of them.
It’s not as affordable as it might look
The base price for the iPad is $499 (and apparently will be €499 in Europe, because Apple fails to acknowledge that 1€ > $1). For that you’ll get 16GB of storage and WiFi. Want 3G? Prepare to spend $130 more. Want more storage? That’ll be $100 extra for the 32GB version, and another $100 for the 64GB. You might be able to use an external disk for storage (again, not sure about the syncing), but for that you need to buy some kind of adapter since the iPad doesn’t have a USB port. Same for SD cards, so go on and buy the adapter to be able to transfer photos from your camera to the iPad.
How much does it cost now?
One may think that the most obvious buyers are the Apple clients. But I think that even those won’t find a use for it. They already have an iPhone and a MacBook. The iPad can’t make calls or take pics like the iPhone. And it’s also way bigger and not that portable. It can’t be used for video conferencing like the MacBook, and the lack of multitasking make it useless for any kind of serious work.
It makes even less sense for the non-Apple crowd. With half the money you can buy a pretty decent netbook that will do everything the iPad does and more. It will be a bit heavier and it won’t have touchscreen, but at least it will have more functionality than a digital coffee table book.
Stan Schroeder, of Mashable, makes a good point by asking when do you plan to use the iPad:
It’s going to be very hard to find enough time to use the iPad. When you’re at home or at work, you’re going to use your computer. When you’re on the go, you have your smartphone. If you’re on a train or a plane and need to do some work, you can use a laptop. When you’re doing something else, such as running, well, then your attention is focused on that. When, exactly, are you going to use the iPad?
Waiting for the next version
Now, with all that said I’m still waiting to see if this will end up becoming the next big thing. If I remember correctly, the iPod also faced some resistance when it was first announced, and even the first version of the iPhone was quite poor compared to the current one.
We might as well be looking at the New World of computing and not even know it. All the negative reactions to the iPad could be just “Future Shock”. Only time will tell.
But as it is now, the iPad is virtually useless.