The iPad

28 01 2010

With so much hype around Apple’s latest event, I woke up this morning thinking that I was going to be disappointed.  My experience with Tablet PC’s have been less than stellar.  My first exposure to one was seeing the IBM X61 tablet which was a great design.  The user had the ability to use the device exactly like a normal laptop, but swivel the screen around and write on it like a notebook.  The problem was not the design, but rather the performance.  As soon as you used the tablet functionality, the computer would slow down dramatically and all of the elements on windows would not function properly.  I always wanted a tablet PC but I could never find one that was powerful and fast enough to truly be effective.

I came to the realization recently that I use my personal computer for very limited things.  Essentially most of the things I do on my MacBook revolves around the browser.  Here are the applications I currently have loaded:

  • Google Chrome (Gmail, Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, NYTimes, Grooveshark)
  • Tweetdeck
  • ITunes

I use my work laptop for more traditional clients like Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc.  I can count, however, the number of times I’ve truly used those applications on my personal laptop.  In today’s world, we browse the internet when we want to get information.  The computer has essentially turned into the browser and as more and more people begin to understand this concept, the traditional guardrails that we think about in purchasing a computer go down.  Speed of the computer is now measured on the bandwidth in connectivity versus the speed of the processor.

The iPad, however is not a personal computer.  It’s a media device that focuses on allowing you to surf the internet in a completely new way.  There is a reason why Apple did not align the product to the Mac line.  It’s not meant to be a low end computer and the consumers that focus on using it as an alternative will be truly disappointed.  Our dependance on connectivity has allowed us to browse the internet in a number of different ways.  For me, I use my smartphone to get most of my news updates (and I don’t even have an iPhone).  As I take the train every morning, I tether my blackberry to gain connectivity to my laptop and browse the web to check mail, read news, etc.

For me, the iPad makes a ton of sense.  It’s a device that allows you to perform the same function in a completely new browsing experience.  A coworker of mine asked, “what is so great about the device if it’s the same thing as a netbook”.  My response is pretty much nothing.  It does the same thing (arguably less) than a netbook/kindle does.  When the iPhone first came out, however, there were plenty of other phones in the market and in comparison it was amazing.

I’ve been looking for an e-reader and was thinking very closely about buying a Kindle (even though I’m not a fan of Amazon).  When I compare the iPad to the Kindle, the sheer platform that Apple has created gravitates me towards buying the iPad.  I can only imaging in 4-5 months the number of incredible apps that will come on this device.

To be perfectly honest – I was disappointed in the lack of webcam, SD slot and USB.  But I had very low expectations on what Apple would provide.

Will I buy the device?  I’m not 100% sure.  When I look at $499, it’s enticing but it’s not a personal computer…it’s essentially a media device on steroids.  Time will tell if I need it to my already heavy arsenal.

$0.02..

-SD

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