What I think about the iPad at the moment

I’ve been reading everything about the iPad that I can get my eyeballs on ever since the announcement. I absolutely can’t understand all the vitriol and consternation being spouted about a product that isn’t even available yet. A shining example of why I pretty much never listen to the “pundits” or “experts”.

I don’t even really want to say much about it until I’ve actually seen and touched one myself, but I can’t resist at least mentioning a few impressions I have. FYI, I’m definitely in the “It’s going to change computing for the better” camp.

Exciting Things

I first watched the marketing video and thought, “this is a marketing video”. Lots of gushing, lots of superlatives. The device sure is pretty, though. Then I watched the keynote video and was truly impressed by seeing the iPad in action. I was generally excited, but the thing that nailed it for me was iWorks. The ability to use this for real work is the most compelling draw. Another exciting thing: since it runs iPhone apps, it will run Bento 3—and I’ll bet dollars-to-donuts that FileMaker will have an iPad-specific version of it at launch. Real work. All with multi-touch. In a package the same X and Y dimensions of the Franklin planner I carry every day, only thinner, lighter and more powerful.

The other biggest plus for me is—believe it or not—it means I can get rid of my iPhone. Yes, that’s what I said. My biggest beef about the iPhone is that I’m paying $29.00+ every month for the cheapest AT&T phone plan and I have thousands of unused rollover minutes that disappear at the end of each and every one of those months. I use the iPhone for email, web, data and doing things, not for yakking on the phone. I can count on one hand the number of actual voice calls I make in a month. With an iPad, I’ll use Skype. Savings: $29.00+ a month…

Disappointments

Again, I can’t really say for sure until I touch one myself. Software wise, I couldn’t care less about lack of Flash support (good on Apple—get the world to help wean web developers off that great pox on the internet). Multitasking? Who really “multitasks”? You can still only do one thing at a time, and with well-crafted iPhone/iPad apps, they remain persistent—you may “close” them, but they’re right in the same place when you open them again. Besides, there’s much to be said for not multitasking and actually concentrating on doing things without being distracted by all the “necessary” distractions (I’m talking to you, Twitter junkies).

So that’s my take on the biggest software complaints. My two disappointments so far are hardware-related:

  1. I wish it had a built-in SD Card slot, mostly so that I can simply slap my camera’s card into it to transfer photos and videos. I can get over this one, though, because at least they’ll be offering the camera connection kit with a “dongle” (what a quaint notion) that will let me do that when I need to. A little less elegant, but I can live with it.
  2. My biggest single problem is that according to the specs, it will only have an audio out headphone jack. Not a combined In/Out jack like on the iPhone and even my Macbook Pro. There’s a built-in microphone, but how will that help me with Skype calling? Is this a conscious plot to not lose iPhone market share? Certainly it cannot be that complicated to wire in the “In” part of that jack so I could use my iPhone headphones. I mean, what in the world is Apple thinking? This would seem a no-brainer.

So there you go. I can’t wait to get my hands on one and will be assiduously saving my spare change so I can purchase the top-of-the-line model this summer.

PS…

Even though this will be a great device for people who aren’t “tech savvy” or who are downright “computer-phobic”—the reviews have been full of references to this being perfect for grandma—there’s one concern I have. Remember, the iPad is meant to be a companion device and not necessarily a standalone one. You still need to connect it to a computer through iTunes for loading music & video, not to mention backing up and for software updates. However, that hasn’t seemed to limit adoption of the iPod which has the same requirement. But as it is now, the iPad really isn’t a device you can use in a vacuum.

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