So what is this new Apple iPad? It’s not everything it could have been.

28 01 2010

For those still having a hard time seeing the forest through the trees, Apple announced a new device yesterday. It’s called the “iPad” and is on sale now, although the first deliveries will not take place until the end of March or early April. Apple describes it as a product that fills the gap between the smartphone and laptop market.

Now, Steve Jobs clearly stated in his keynote that Apple thought his company would need product that would be easier to use and better to use for the following things:

  • Browsing
  • Email
  • Photos
  • Video
  • Music
  • Games
  • eBooks

And you know what? You can argue over one or two categories, but I think he is actually right for the biggest part of it.

Your iPhone is great to make calls and to give it a little extra you can do a lot of the things mentioned above. But is it comfortable to do those things on the iPhone? Perhaps. Showing your pictures to your grandparents on the iPhone? Yeah, it’s possible, but unless they brought their glasses they will probably have a harder time to see the full detail in pictures. So you get out your laptop and boot it and log on. Now you’ve got a big screen, but flicking through the pictures is not quite as easy as on the iphone. And just handing over the laptop to someone else is possible. It will keep their laps warm, that’s a sure thing.

Most of the people I heard commenting on the iPad were not that enthusiastic, and I can tell you why. “It’s not everything it could have been.”

Most of the people I talked to had some bigger or smaller problems with the device. One argument was that it will probably lack the option to synchronize to a Microsoft Exchange mailserver. And yes, that feature would have been great. But that would also mean that they would have needed to implement a whole lot of other features, encryption being an example. Or would you like to see your corporate e-mails accessible to people who might steal the device? And since you want to connect to your Exchange server, you might also want to add the option of setting up VPN connections since my mail server is on the corporate network. And how about that remote wipe feature for all the sensitive data on my new iPad? The list goes on and on.

In my opinion, this device is great for home users, and that is exactly where it is marketed at. It’s big enough to show those pictures to grandpa and grandma without them having big problems seeing what’s in front of them. It’s also portable enough when you compare it to a laptop. And easier to use than a laptop. The same can be said for most of the other core features that were listed above.

The problem will be the technically savvy people, because they will be exactly those people that will say “It’s not everything it could have been.”. I could have used it to take notes during meetings and sync those online. It would be great to have had a screen that had different proportions than that damn 4:3 aspect ratio. And perhaps they shouldn’t have used that IPS back-lit LED screen, and what about that missing “non glossy” option for the display! As I already said previously, the list goes on and on.

On the other hand, the technically savvy people are a group that just can’t be satisfied. Why? Because we know what new technologies are out there, and we have exact ideas on what those new technologies would have allowed us to do: “If they would have just added feature X, imagine how much easier and better the whole device would have been”. The problem there? The list just won’t stop because every one of those people will have different ideas on what would have made the product better.

As for myself? I’ll probably be picking one up, but I’m not sure yet. I had some personal thoughts on what would have made the iPad better for me, but I’m intent on trying the iPad and giving it a fair chance within the context that Steve outlined. Maybe I’ll be surprised, or maybe I’ll just wait for the next version that will have some of the features that I was thinking of. Until I actually held one myself I’ll just continue to read what it is, and even more on what it isn’t. It’s a fun pro/contra discussion either way.

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