%HTMLlat1; %HTMLsymbol; %HTMLspecial; ]> Apple iPad
Roland van Ipen­burg
To be stolen or blogged

Ap­ple iPad

Fri­day 29 Jan­uary 2010 06:32

To avoid fill­ing up my twit­ter time­line with ran­dom rants about Ap­ple's iPad I'll try to be more con­cise in this full blown blog post.

I have an Ap­ple iBook G4. I've nev­er been such a big fan of Ap­ple that I want­ed an Ap­ple in the first place, but about five years ago there weren't any net­books around and what I want­ed was a small lap­top and the only op­tions less than 15" at the time were very ex­pen­sive Sony Vaios and less ex­pen­sive iBooks. So that is how I got to own a Mac. For about EUR 1000 a portable 12" that is re­al­ly nice when you don't need to do on it what should be done on a work­sta­tion with a 30" cin­e­ma dis­play. A bit of brows­ing, mail, a cou­ple of xterms with SSH ses­sions, watch­ing movies, web pro­gram­ming and play­ing around with OS X all works very nice. In a pinch it can also do Of­fice and Adobe CS things and movie edit­ing and work with a sec­ond mon­i­tor, but then we en­ter the non-stan­dard use. I re­placed the orig­i­nal 40GB disk with a 250GB disk, ex­pand­ed the RAM to 1.5GB, hacked the graph­ics so it isn't lim­it­ed to mir­ror­ing on the sec­ond screen and I heav­i­ly use Desk­top Man­ag­er. Which makes it all still very us­able, so I've about five years ex­pe­ri­ence with a 12" Ap­ple de­vice that runs a 1024x768 res­o­lu­tion.

No way in hell that the iPad con­vinces me it is bet­ter than my iBook G4, and I doubt any net­book user will see the lack of a key­board as an im­prove­ment. It's not the typ­ing on the key­board that's es­sen­tial, it's the way you can rest the base on your lap and have the screen stand up at a flex­i­ble an­gle. With a cup of tea in one hand and the re­mote of the TV in the oth­er you can still read some text or watch a video on your lap­top. Or if you need some more free­dom put it next to you on the couch and the screen is still point­ing in the right di­rec­tion. The iPad re­quires you to hold it to point it at your face all the time and I don't see how you would be able to hold it, type and look at the screen at the same time. And even while just watch­ing it, are you ex­pect­ed to hold it for about 20 min­utes while watch­ing an episode or some­thing? All the com­par­isons that should make the iPad look good is com­pared to the iPhone, not a net­book. The touch­pad on the iBook is al­ready great, but the key to com­fort­ably use a de­vice with­out a real mouse is learn­ing the key­board short­cuts. But if the de­vice also doesn't have a real key­board that is a prob­lem. And how in­tu­itive is a touch screen in­ter­face when you watch a movie full-screen?

The oth­er thing I don't get is the use case of the iPad. I can only imag­ine it as an e-read­er or a dig­i­tal pho­to frame (which you can't place in land­scape mode). It's not a de­vice you quick­ly whip out while rid­ing your bike or set up on a desk to use as a work­sta­tion. While it's a portable de­vice it's not mo­bile in the way a phone is. It seems to be aimed at us­ing it while sit­ting down at a place where you can also put it away on a ta­ble. And when you go out you leave it there and only take your phone and maybe your lap­top with you. The iPad can stay where the re­mote con­trol stays. It doesn't need 3G be­cause you won't use it on the road.

Even com­pa­nies that have no prob­lem pro­vid­ing all their staff with an iPhone and a MacBook Pro would have a hard time try­ing to come up with a rea­son why they would need an iPad for any­one. And even if they would, will it be worth it to car­ry all three around, or de­cid­ing which of the three to pick in what sit­u­a­tion? So there will prob­a­bly be no mas­sive sales to pro­vide every em­ploy­ee with one, but at $499 it would be a nice gad­get to have a cou­ple of them ly­ing around the re­cep­tion area so vis­i­tors can browse com­pa­ny info while wait­ing for their ap­point­ment. The place where there is cur­rent­ly prob­a­bly a 50" screen show­ing the same stuff. Any tablet could do that, but Ap­ple still man­ages to cre­ate the de­vice in a way that peo­ple will pick it up and try it, which is es­sen­tial in that sit­u­a­tion. But who needs apps in such a dig­i­tal mag­a­zine sit­u­a­tion? It will just run the com­pa­nies in­tranet in some kiosk mode on the com­pa­ny's WiFi. That's what the $499 thing is for.

On the con­sumer side you'd have to be a fan­boi with $500 to throw away to pick the iPad over a more ver­sa­tile gener­ic net­book. And if you can throw away $500 you'll prob­a­bly also have an iPod video and a MacBook al­ready, and I don't see at what point you would switch to the iPad to ac­tu­al­ly use it. For mu­sic and video Ap­ple has bet­ter de­vices, so the only use would be to take ad­van­tage of the ob­long screen and use it as an e-read­er. But there is more to an e-read­er than just the ob­long screen, and the iPad lacks those fea­tures the e-read­er pow­er users need. And if you're not a pow­er user, you prob­a­bly won't get se­ri­ous­ly an­noyed any time you'd have to read some­thing on the 16:9 screen of a MacBook Pro, so why use the iPad?

As a reg­u­lar de­vice it could be OK, and the price is not redicu­lous­ly high. But com­ing from Ap­ple in the way they choose to present it it's to­tal­ly crap. They present it like they have just now in­vent­ed the portable 1024x768 col­or screen and the web brows­er, and that makes the whole thing redicu­lous and any­one buy­ing that ar­ro­gant crap from Ap­ple is a re­tard, or has nev­er used a net­book. Steve should have apol­o­gized for not hav­ing some­thing Ap­ple wor­thy to present this year and saved the fan­bois from hu­mil­i­at­ing them­selves by try­ing to de­fend this fail­ure.

But if the iPad gets pop­u­lar any­way, that would mean I can just keep us­ing the web with my 1024x768 iBook G4 with Flash dis­abled as I have been do­ing for years.


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