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Is the iPad Really iBad?

If you have seen the movie “Avatar”, and by all accounts it would seem most of us have, then you might remember some of the humans in their operational base on the planet Pandora were carrying functional digital slates or portable flat displays to collaborate with others in the lab. While the devices were science fiction, the form factor resembles the new iPad from Apple.

 


Even though it is now thought of as one of Apple’s worst kept secrets, the expected new tablet was masterfully shrouded in mystery with subtle, tasty hints along the way of what might be coming. In addition, there was no shortage of community-generated hype. Now that the device has been revealed, the twittosphere, blogosphere and most other spheres, have chimed in with a collective “That’s it?” and varied levels of disappointment.

 


The iPad name itself has become an ongoing joke as millions online simultaneously chimed that the name sounds like a feminine hygiene product. It went downhill from there. Apple has a handheld device with a touchscreen called the iPod Touch. The iPad appears to be a larger version of the Touch with no groundbreaking functionality at all, which is odd given that Steve Jobs called it the most important thing he has ever done in his life.

 


We have had some time to digest the potential of the device and the wealth of criticism surrounding its announcement. Even if the tablet form is befitting your requirements, there are some deficiencies of the Apple iPad that have to be considered.


  1. It’s an Apple. To some, this may be its best feature, but to others it means reduced flexibility and a digital anchor to everything preceded with a lowercase “i” (the iCloud?). Applications must come from the Apple App Store.

  2. No USB port. Are you kidding? As it stands, the lack of USB, a ubiquitous standard for peripheral connectivity, severely limits supporting hardware. Well, without a special adapter. You will have to get adapters for external devices that require USB.

  3. No multitasking? This means one application running at a time? I almost can’t fathom this. I don’t remember the last time I used a netbook or laptop with only one application running.

  4. No built-in web cam? Or camera? Or projector? Smartphones and laptops alike have incorporated a camera of some form for quite some time. The lack of such a device seems like a lost opportunity. A built-in projector would just have been icing on the cake.

  5. No microphone? This would complement a web cam, of course, but also enable soft phone usage without an external headset or even recording quick voice notes.

  6. No HDMI out port? No Widescreen? If you wanted to view HD video externally on a TV, you won’t be able to. In addition, the screen today is limited to the old ratio – there is no widescreen capability for the iPad.

  7. No SD card slot? How do I transfer my camera photos to the iPad? USB? (Oops. See #2) Well, it does use the rather uncommon MicroSIMs.

  8. No Flash or Silverlight support? Adobe is still up in arms that Apple has neglected their Flash plugin, right when Adobe is about to release the Flash plugin for smartphones.

  9. Backlit Display? This is expected. But there is talk of the iPad, with the yet to be released iBook store, replacing the Kindle. The Kindle’s value comes with the black on white display. Readers will have more trouble with their eyes trying to read books on the iPad with its backlit display. This is no Kindle killer.




There are numerous other things that could be listed here. Most are really product decisions versus deficiencies. For example, the touch keyboard is not everyone’s favorite, but it is a functional alternative to an external keyboard.

 


The iPad’s success must be derived from its form factor. People need to find a tablet device so useful that it is valuable in spite of itself. I find the whole form factor to be awkward, even inconvenient, but I don't work in a futuristic lab like the humans in Avatar. Maybe if I was forced to work with one over time I would adapt and find it the best device ever. I just don’t see that happening. I don’t foresee pit bosses monitoring dealers with a uni-tasking flat device like this. If only it was a little smaller, had a separate keyboard and folded to protect the screen – an Apple Netbook – that would be cool.

 

Comments

  • Howard Steiner 4 years ago

    Agreed. It'll be interesting to see whether there are enough Apple acolytes to support the product in it's current form.