I received an iPad as a gift. I'd like to say -especially after my scathing preview a few months back- that had I not gotten the tablet as a present I never would have owned one, but in all honesty I cannot. Likely I would have waited a year before I bought it, but the allure of tablet computing is difficult for a geek to resist, even those of us who recognize the platform's disadvantages ahead of time. Nonetheless, despite having nothing more invested in the product than appreciation towards the person who had gifted it to me, I endeavored to find utility for the device. For the past two weeks, it has gone almost everywhere I have gone, and where I might otherwise have used a computer or hand-held, I used the iPad. Surely somewhere in all those tasks the iPad would prove its worth.
|The iPad has a glossy screen|
But the sad fact is, the iPad is not the solution. It has the technical capability but its form factor is its greatest weakness. True, it can perform most tasks you might otherwise turn to a laptop or desktop computer, but its limitations quickly become evident. Similarly, it has the portability of a hand-held, but -four times larger- not the convenience. It is not the revolutionary new computing paradigm promised by Apple. It is a toy that, at best, has a few niche applications it might be ideal for but otherwise fails to better its competitors in any way.
|The on-screen keyboard|
|Safari lacks many features|
|iBook is pretty but not feature-rich|
Similarly, the iPad has limited success as a portable media device. It is terrible as a music player; although it has all the features of Apple's iPhone or iPod Touch music players, its form factor completely negates its usability in this area; you can't stick the iPad in your pocket and go out for a brisk jog. On the other hand, it plays videos fairly well and -despite initial worries- I only came across a handful of websites where I could not stream the video from the Internet (Hulu.Com is, of course, the most notable exception). Still, I have to wonder at the utility of this feature; whenever I was traveling, watching video was the last thing I wanted to do, and when I was at home the better option was always to watch the video on the HDTV or big-screen monitor.
|Zombieville USA on the iPad is a kick-ass game|
So what's the final verdict? Well, if you ask me, it's a cute toy, but even its most dedicated fans will have to admit that it just can't replace the computing platforms already available. For all its versatility, users will still want to keep a hand-held device and a dedicated computer around for their day-to-day work. The iPad is too big to replace the former, and too limited in functionality to replace the former. So why should anyone ever buy one?