The iPad, part 2

So the complaining about the iPad continues. Like I said before, this is nothing new, all new products from Apple receive huge amount of critique after they are launched. Everyone has totally overblown expectations regarding the device, and when they actually get something that does not fulfill every hare-brained fantasy, people complain.

This time I'm going to discuss the iPad from two (or three, depending on how you look at things) different perspectives, both of which have been repeatedly mentioned around the web.

"It's just an oversized iPod touch!"

No it isn't. Sure, if you looked at the specs alone (something I advised against) it might seem like that. But it's pretty obvious that it's a lot more. Just look at the apps it runs. You could not run iWork on your iPod. You couldn't really create content on your iPod (apart from tweets, short emails and Facebook-updates). With the iPad you can actually create presentations, spreadsheets, documents. And we haven't even seen what the third-party developers will think of!

It's obvious that the added screen-real-estate and performance enable things that are simply not available on the iPod. Only way someone could think of this as an "oversized iPod touch" is if they simply stared at the specs, without actually looking and thinking what and how you can do with the device.

It should be obvious to everyone that iPad is a lot more capable than iPod touch is. No question about that.

"Why not just get a laptop instead?"

That's another thing being thrown around. Well, why not get a laptop? After all, they have big screens as well, dedicated keyboards, even more power and storage-space... Well, the answer to that is multifaceted one. Let's start with the obvious.

Compared to iPad, laptops (I'll talk about netbooks in a moment) cost more, they are bigger and heavier and they get less battery-life (I just heard that the iPad has 140 hour battery-life when listening to music....). Those are the obvious, measurable differences between the two. But the answer goes deeper than that.

At this point people will say "but I can do more with a laptop!". Sure. You have an optical drive, which lets you watch DVD's, you can run "normal" apps (like Photoshop etc.), you have bigger screen, more performance etc.Tthose are all facts. Does that mean that iPad is therefore crap? Not at all.

The iPad might have less raw features, but the iPad also costs less. Second, the things it does, it does better. Just look at the user interface. On a laptop you manipulate a pointer, which you use to manipulate various UI-elements. On the iPad, you manipulate the UI directly. That alone is a huge difference. It makes using the device a lot more direct (dare I say, "intimate"?) experience.

I will here and now make the claim that browsing the web on the iPad will be a better experience than browsing it on a laptop, even without Flash. My iPod touch has already taken it's place as my main web-browsing device in my household. I rather browse the web with my iPod than with my laptop. And iPad will be order of magnitude better at web-browsing than iPod touch is.

Same will probably happen with email. I already use my iPod for email, but there the laptop still reigns supreme. I wouldn't be one bit surprised if iPad ended up being just as good, if not better at email than a laptop is. Looking at the demos, the email-client in the iPad is very powerful. Order of magnitude more powerful than the one in the iPod touch.

What about photos and movies? Again, it seems to me that iPad will be as good or better at those than a laptop is. iPad is more convenient at your lap than a laptop is, and it's easier to share the screen with others. Watching movies on a laptop is certainly doable, but far from ideal.

It seems to me that while laptop will always be more adaptable, the things that the iPad does, it does better than a laptop does. This isn't about doing more things, it's about doing less things, but better.

"Wait, what about netbooks?!"

Ah yes, the netbook... I mentioned that compared to the iPad, laptops are bigger and heavier, more expensive and get less battery-life. But that also applies to netbooks. Looking at those raw features, iPad and netbooks seem similar.

But the problem with netbooks is just as Steve Jobs said: "they aren't better than laptops in anything. They are just small and cheap laptops". The software they run is the same software running on the laptops. It's "jack-of-all-trades" software that is designed for large screen and small screens, instead of being tailor-made for the device. It's software designed for mouse and keyboard. The email-experience, web-experience, movie-experience etc. are not better than they would be in a laptop, they are worse. On the iPad, they are better. They are better because Apple designed the apps for the device, as opposed to shoehorning some existing apps to the device.

The benefits netbooks offer when compared to laptops is that they are small and cheap. But so is iPad. in fact, iPad is smaller than netbooks are. Sure, netbooks might offer adaptability not present in the iPad (USB-ports etc.), but everything else in them is crappier.

Bottom line

The usage-areas Apple focused on during the presentation (email, web, photos, movies, music, books) cover huge part of the things that people do with their computers. And iPad excels at all of them. It's an undisputed fact that it's more capable than iPod touch is. Anything touch can do, iPad can do a lot better. And it also seems that the things the iPad does, it does better than a laptop would do them. Then there's the content-creation, like word-processing. Laptops obviously excel at that, but iPad seems to very very capable in it as well, maybe even better than a laptop is some ways.

If those usage-areas cover the things that you look from a mobile computer, then the iPad is a no-brainer. It's smaller, cheaper and it's _better_. If you want to do something else, you might need a laptop, maybe even a netbook. But for huge numbers of people, iPad will be perfect, and when developers really get going, we will see some excellent apps on the device. Apps that do things that simply would not work on an iPod touch (or a netbook for that matter).

No comments: