Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ipad Mania

No, I have not bought one and I have no intention of doing so.

Yes, the Ipad is exceedingly cool. Its a great toy. But is it really useful?

For getting to the answer to this question, it is useful to compare the Ipad to the Ipod Touch. The Ipad and Ipod touch do the same things. Media, email, internet, entertainment. The Ipod Touch fits in your pocket or purse, the Ipad does not. They also share what they do not do, or at least, do not do well. They cannot do serious productivity work, such as using office. I know that there is an office application for both devices. But it would be a joke to think that you could seriously sit on this device and type a long document. Yes, you can attach a keyboard. But then, a notebook computer already has one. Also, file management is seriously crippled on the Ipad: only through Itunes or email, if Wi-fi or 3G is available. No USB port. No personal folders. So it cannot replace a conventional notebook computer in its current form.

There are a lot of reports of how ackward it is to hold the Ipad for more than 5-10 minutes. It may seem cool to sit on the sofa with your legs up and the Ipad resting on them, (like in Apple's promotional video) but seriously, how often/long can you work that way? If you put the Ipad flat on a table in front of you, the viewing angle is wrong. The Ipod Touch is much easier to use while sitting, reclining or even lying in bed propped up by a pillow.

It seems to me that the Ipad's main use is as a household toy/entertainment device. If household members want to watch a quick youtube video or play a game, they can go to their Ipad. Maybe it would also be a good home calendar/rolodex substitute. But if I need computing away from home, I'll take my laptop. If I want portable media, I'll take my Ipod.

The Ipad seems to be a device looking for a use. Steve Jobs is famous for his reality distortion field (RDF), in which he persuades his followers that any development is a "revolution" and that a toy is really an invaluable productivity tool. Rather than being a productivity tool, the Ipad is more likely to be a big time waster.