Originally I wasn’t going to get one, citing the fact that most first generation electronics are so buggy that it pays to wait for improvements to come along. But the question kept nagging; could this be the item that would replace my bulky laptop?
Apple portrays the iPad as a “magical and revolutionary product,” that would forever change our lives as we knew it. That is a pretty bold statement, don’t you think? Well, in some ways, I can see what they meant. The iPad is cutting-edge and it is certainly a first in many categories, but it’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread, at least not yet.
Despite my reservations about first generation products, I finally gave in and purchased an 64 GB iPad 3G about a week ago and so far it has been worth every penny. The ability to carry the entire Internet (and a bookshelf) in tablet the size of a National Geographic magazine is simply amazing. With the addition of over 10,000 native iPad apps there is almost limitless potential to what this product can do, but again, it’s not perfect (and nobody should have expected it to be).
One of the downsides is that you can’t multitask or switch between applications on the fly as you can with a laptop. At first I thought that this would be a major drawback, but now i see it as a productivity tool in a sense. Think about it; the iPad keeps you focused on the task at hand and reduces the natural tendency to jump from window to window.
If you do take your iPad out in public, just get ready to constantly explain the features to every passerby who catches a glimpse of it. Usually the conversation goes something like this:
iPad Inquirer: Ooooh, is that an iPad? I’ve never seen one of those in public! So what does it do?
iPad Owner: Well, it’s basically a giant iPod Touch with Internet access. You can browse the web, listen to music, send emails, etc.
iPad Inquirer: So, what does that button do? Is it expensive?
iPad Owner: Uh, that launches an application to browse photos. The iPad retails at about $500 – $800. Now, if you’d excuse me, I must get going…
iPad Inquirer: Oh, what’s an app?
iPad Owner: That’s just an abbreviated way of saying “application.”
iPad Inquirer: Can I hold it? The keyboard looks kinda small. Is it hard to type on? I should try it out, don’t you think?
iPad Owner: I guess you should. Here, but I do have to leave in a minute…
[Continue for 20 minutes]
Well, hopefully you get the idea. Not that there is anything wrong with curiosity. The same thing happened when the first iPhone was released. Hopefully in another six months the iPad will be as common as the iPhone was in the first year and thus the amount of attention it attracts in public will significantly diminish.
As for the number of physical things the iPad can replace, you won’t be needing your address book, calendar, to-do list, memo pad, voice recorder or calculator anymore. All of these items exist in digital form on the iPad, either with the included features or as downloadable apps. Talk about traveling light; I cannot wait to put the iPad to the ultimate test when I get back to the university in the Fall.
Now, keep in mind, the iPad is more of a media consumption device than a media creation device. This means that it is excellent for reading email, browsing the web, looking up facts, checking out profiles, listening to music and more. However, when it comes to actually producing your own media, the iPad falls short. This is to be expected and will certainly improve over time with future versions, but if you main reason for getting one is to edit videos, photos or other web content, you probably will be disappointed.
In summary, I love this device. Ever since I got it, I haven’t let it out of my sight. While certainly not a “laptop killer” in all categories, the iPad is powerful enough to replace a laptop for casual internet surfers. I can see it being especially useful for students and business professionals as well.
All in all, was it worth the price? Yes, I have no regrets with this purchase. The best part is knowing that this is just the beginning. Think back to the original iPhone and compare it to the recently-announced iPhone 4. Imagine the same improvements being applied to the iPad in years to come. We are certainly in for some surprises and one day yes, this will probably replace laptops altogether, we just haven’t gotten there yet.