Chris Alexander

On Engineering

What The iPad Is Not

28th January, 2010

So it’s the morning after another massive Apple announcement. The dust has settled, the fanboys have washed their underwear, and the public are taking their first look through the misty sunrise at the fabled Apple Tablet.

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First impressions of the blogosphere and Twitter, however, were generally negative. #iTampon is still a (mocking) Trending Topic in the UK.

The cause of most of this negativity seems to be that the iPad is not doing things people wanted it to do, or suitably replacing other devices they wanted it to.

But as Steve Jobs said yesterday, the iPad is not about replacing your existing devices; it’s an entirely new paradigm in computing.

Here’s why people who expect the iPad to replace various devices in their lives have got entirely the wrong idea.

The iPad is not an iPhone

Or any mobile phone, to be honest. Mobile phones can do calls, and are meant to be companions to help you keep in touch on the go.

I would not want to use something like this as a phone - it would be completely impractical and you would simply look funny.

The iPad offers something much more than an iPhone; as well as a giant touch screen and brilliant display, the user experience will be considerably improved.

The iPad is not a Macbook

If you want something portable that you can run Photoshop on and write a million word essay on the train, buy a Macbook Pro 13″ and stop moaning about the iPad.

Where the Macbook is less useful is that impulse requirement to search for something online, pick up a couple of tweets, craft a quick response to an important e-mail or throw a couple of pictures on to a slide deck for that demo in 10 minutes. That’s where the iPad comes in.

The iPad is not an E-Reader

If you want a hardcore e-reader for the beach, with clear text in any weather conditions, then go buy a Kindle.

However, Kindle can’t do e-mail, update me on my RSS feeds, and drop me a few tweets. For me, the iBookstore is not only a terrible name but also just a side-thought on the iPad. I don’t read enough to open the app more than once. Does look quite nice, though.

The iPad is not a camera

If you want something to snap a few pics on the go, take your iPhone. If you want to get some serious pictures, get a Samsung compact or a Canon DSLR. If you want a convenient way to quickly review your pictures on a huge screen on the way home, pick up your iPad and stick your photos on it.

To be honest, a camera is one thing that the iPad is missing. I have a feeling Apple only included it on the iPhone because it was at the time that you could not get away with releasing a new phone without a camera on it. A front-facing camera would be so epic for video calls though.

The iPad is not a computer

If you want OS X, get a Macbook. For Windows 7, go grab one of those really thin Dell XPS notebooks.

If you want something that will allow you to do simple tasks quicky and effectively, then the iPad is for you.