The iPad was announced on January 27, 2010, and arrived in Apple stores on April 3. Instantly, floods of people came clamoring for the latest Apple gadget, and the web is abuzz with "success stories" of new iPad users.. But is the iPad really as amazing as everyone claims it is? Or is it just a big iPod touch?
Just to clear things up a bit: I am not an Apple hater, nor am I an Apple fanboy. I prefer Windows, but I do own a "HackBook Pro" and an iPod touch. And I do not own an iPad at the moment, nor do I plan on getting one anytime soon. Why? You'll see in this article.
iPad: A nice device, per se
Ignoring its bang-for-the-buck factor, expected functionality, and comparison in functionality with similar devices... it is, in fact, a nice device. Per se, that is. It has an intuitive, smooth user interface that iPhone users have grown to love. The iPad is the iPhone/iPod touch's "bigger brother"... it takes the iPhone experience and elevates it to a whole new level.
But is that a good thing? The iPhone is a great smartphone, but it already is missing fairly basic functionality of other smartphones such as multitasking, expandable storage... need I go on? And more than half the people who own iPads say that it is NOT a big iPod touch but is something considerably better.
Not a standalone device
Yes, you read that right: the iPad is not a stand-alone device in that it requires you to use a computer to establish a sync partnership with iTunes. And yes, you are stuck with iTunes. If this thing even dreams of competing with netbooks, it will need to stop ACTING like a big iPod touch. Does a Macbook Air, or an Asus Eee PC, NEED to be synced with iTunes (or a similar application)? Nope.
Netbook killer? I don't think so.
Lack of "obvious" features
One thing that annoys me about the iPad is its lack of fairly standard features of tablet PCs or even smartphones. For one, it does not allow expansion of storage, at all. 16GB is not very much storage at all; if you fill up your 16GB iPad, you can't just add an SD card or even upgrade the internal storage: you need to buy a whole new iPad. And being a "tablet computer" – it's not a big iPod touch, remember? – why doesn't it have a single USB port? Why can't I plug my camera into it and download photos that way? Why doesn't it play Flash movies? The 624MHz CPU in my Samsung Epix smartphone is capable of playing Flash, and many websites use it... there isn't much of an excuse for the iPad not playing Flash with its 1GHz CPU. And what's wrong with a removable battery? I like carrying spares with me.
Tablet computer, smartphone OS
There's no denying it: the iPhone OS is designed for smartphones. Thus, if you install the iPhone OS – the operating system used by iPhone and iPod touch – on a bigger device, then obviously people will say "it's just a big iPod touch".
The main issue I have with the iPhone OS isn't its user interface – that works fairly well actually. My issue is in the internals. The iPad will never be able to run "real" desktop applications... it will only be able to run "desktop-like" apps written for the iPad, and the many iPhone apps already available. Big iPod touch? Sounds more and more like it.
Where does it fit in space and time?
We needed to do our work out of the office/home, so the laptop computer was introduced. We needed to manage our schedules and appointments, and check our email, from any location, and the smartphone was born. Our laptops felt a bit bulky, so netbooks hit the shelves. But what do we really NEED an iPad-like device for? It's not powerful enough to replace our laptops (or even netbooks), yet it isn't compact enough to replace our smartphones or PDAs. Thus, it is a niche product: something that nobody needs but thinks they need.
Yes, I agree, it is an awesome device per se. If I had an iPad, I would surely find a use for it. But look into the future: in a few years, will be fondly looking at our iPads much like we look at our venerable Pentium II laptops and black-and-white cell phones. It's cool at the moment, but the fad will fade away and the now-hyped iPad be forgotten.
Will it be a hit?
It seems like it at the moment. There are so many people clamoring for an iPad that Apple is sure to make a lot of sales. You gotta give kudos to Apple for their marketing though: they did an excellent job of making people want an iPad.
For $300, I can buy myself a nice netbook. For $500, I can buy myself a decent laptop, or I could choose to spend it on an unlocked smartphone. For $830, I can buy myself a fairly nice desktop workstation. So is it worth it considering that you can pick up a 32GB iPod touch for under $300 if you look in the right places? Considering its functionality, and how much you'd use it... I think not.
While the iPad may be more than just a big iPod touch, it shares many qualities – both good and bad – with this ubiquitous Apple device. Thus, I will not be spending my money on an iPad any time soon. What do you think of the iPad? Please leave a comment!