Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why the iPad Failed to Impress [Me]

Unless you have been living under a technological rock (and it is actually okay if you have), you are well aware of Apple's latest product - The iPad. Originally dubbed by the rumor mill "The i Tablet" it was joked to be the most important tablet to come around since Moses descended from Mt. Sinai. With a pre-billing like that, it was almost inevitable that it was being set up to disappoint. Don't get me wrong, it is visually stunning and can be extremely practical. But alas, here is where it failed me and what I needed to stay interested [disclaimer; I'm not a tech wiz so forgive the absence of the jargon. I just know what I like and what I don't]:

1. The operating system - The iPad has a very similar operating system to that of the iPhone and iPod Touch. The movements are the same. The display is mostly the same. Thus, the uses are practically the same. Think big screen iPod Touch with some minor modifications.
To win me over, this really needed to be a touch screen version of Leopard. If you are already using Leopard, imagine ripping the keyboard off your laptop and being able just use the screen with an added touch screen keyboard. I would have been in the store yesterday for that.

2. It's noticeably absent of flash capabilities. Even as Steve Jobs demoed the iPad, he made the mistake (as I see it) of visiting a web site that typically contained Flash. Instead there existed an icon for the missing plug-in. For those of who are unaware of why flash is important, borrow your friend's iPhone and visit half of the sites you normally do and see how they display. I know a lot of the ones I visit use flash in some capacity and it is no fun to visit them only to see white boxes where a video or flash displayed picture would normally be. I do not understand why it has taken so long to make flash available on Apple's mobile devices. If you wanted to "wow" me today, announce that upgrade.

3. The price point - it is actually not that bad at $499 until you look a little bit closer at what that means. $499 is for Wifi capable only with no 3G and for 16 GB. If I am not storing my music on the iPad, that is not terrible but if I am going to store my music, watch downloaded movies , play games and use it to work on documents, I am going to need at least a 32 GB and more likely a 64 GB. At this point I am now looking at $699. Still not terrible until you consider it is missing that stupid 3G which makes the iPad uber portable. So tack on another $130 to make it $829. Now I have to consider if I need this, my iPhone and a laptop.

4. Still tied to AT&T - I will spare you the percentage of my bi-weekly pay check that goes towards paying off the bane of the telecom world, AT&T. The iPad has two data plans which are both run though AT&T. Ranging from $14.99 to $29.99 you are paying another monthly bill on top of the definite half grand you already dropped on the iPad. And forget getting it subsidized, this is contract free. Not that there is anywhere else to take it right now.

5. No Camera - If I am going to use this as a portable work device (which I assume I would since it is capable of installing iWorks), then it should have some sort of mobile camera for video conferencing. This would also be beneficial for using Skype.

6. No CD or DVD drive. Again, if I am making this my go-to portable device, it would be useful to have a CD drive to load up any software, CDs, or to make a CD version of a presentation. I've been working on. Also, if it is made to withstand a 10-hour flight to Tokyo, I may want to bring a DVD I already own rather than downloading a new one off iTunes.

So while the iPad has definitely revolutionized that particular niche and made the Kindle seem like parchment paper comparatively, I do not believe it offers enough for me to run out and buy version 1.0. Keep trying Apple. I know you have it in you.

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