iPad SchmiPad I’m Slate’d


It sure is pretty, but does it do enough?

Yea, so it’s here. It’s cool and all, but it doesn’t cure cancer or bring world peace. It won’t solve the problems with the Red Sox blowing leads late in games nor will it help the Cubs win a World Series. Now I’m not an Apple H8T3r, nor am I an Apple fanboy salivating at every utterance and release from Cupertino. That being said, I wouldn’t refuse an iPad if someone chose to give me one.

You know all the cool stuff – you’ve seen the videos and fondled the device longingly in the Apple store, but once you get past the excellent hardware design, I think that Apple’s purposeful crippling of the iPad by excluding built-in: USB ports, printing, video camera and support for 3rd party keyboard/mice will prevent this device from reaching it’s full potential, much the way that previous tablets reliance on stylus input prevented them being being adopted outside the corporate world. This lack of basic functionality will doom the device to be primarily a consumption only device used by consumers for personal use and therefore not a replacement for a trusty laptop. That’s not to say sales won’t be atmospheric, they will be. Apple may have missed the chance to hit a home run and truly change how people work and play. But hitting doubles still generates huge profits.

If you stop and think about the iPad it’s not exactly revolutionary or even evolutionary. It’s just an obvious product extension and not a revolutionary design epiphany. It uses the same OS as it’s smaller siblings, the iPod Touch/iPhone. Sure it’s bigger and all, but any breathing, sentient being could have figured out that: “hey, people like the iPod touch/iPhone, why don’t we make a bigger one so it’ll be even easier to browse websites, watch videos and read books?”

Now don’t get me wrong Apple got many things right in this version 1.0 device, or Version 1.5 if you count the iPhone/ iPod Touches as versions 1.0. And version 2.0 will be better and so on. Hopefully by then Apple will have added the cameras and possibly even printing functionality. Otherwise it just seems like a lot of money for a device that doesn’t fit in your pocket, but which can’t do all that much.

Of course nothing develops in a vacuum, HP’s Slate  is just around the corner and I think that will become my personal tablet of choice because it runs Windows 7 Home Premium. And because it runs Win7, it will support Windows 7 compatible 3rd party peripherals like keyboard, mice, headsets, speakers, and whatever else you throw at it. This device could be the laptop replacement for many people that the iPad was hoped to be. Since it runs Windows 7, I can install Office 2010 and get real work done. And once work is over, I can browse to any website whether or not it runs Adobe Flash, or watch videos or play games. Plus I can use the built-in USB port to easily move documents, photos, videos and other data.

Apple’s continued decision to exclude Flash has nothing to do with buggy software and everything to do with hubris and desire to control everything. If the device is successful enough, and widely adopted enough though, web site developers will be forced to migrate more quickly to HTML5 leaving Flash in the dustbin of previously essential computer software and thereby depriving Adobe of a profitable revenue stream. Of course not having Flash is more than an inconvenience. Flash does more than drive games and videos – it’s used for data presentation and many other things.

The HP Slate might be the first Windows-Based Tablet to achieve widespread consumer adoption.

Back to the Slate. The Slate will most likey single-handedly run havoc over the nascent netbook market because it’s lighter than most netbooks with a multi-touch screen supporting both finger and digitizer input running a Windows OS. This means that it will find its way into the hearts of consumers and corporations alike. Not to mention it looks pretty cool with the stronger horizontal form factor (or more vertical depending on how you hold it) being perfect for displaying true 1080p HD video. Now the processor won’t be discovering new prime numbers any time soon, but it will be more than sufficient for what I need. Critics will point to the smaller screen as a weak point, but I think it’ll be easier to manage than the iPad’s bigger form factor.

In fact if you notice all the iPad commercials and videos seem to feature people sitting down with their feet propped up holding the iPad with one hand and using the other to move around the device.  Which at first seems really cool, it’s easy to imagine using the device on the couch or relaxing in a hotel room, but after some thought I realized the device is big enough that you have to hold it or prop it up to maintain the proper viewing angle. This of course is something endemic to all tablet type devices – except the those tablet/laptop convertibles. I’ve used the Lenovo x-series tablet convertibles and they were fine machines, but I found myself using them in laptop mode most often limiting the benefit of the tablet functionality. Maybe now with a multi-touch screen that would be different. Who knows, all I know is that I’m really enjoying my Lenovo x301 which isn’t a tablet at all, but is a super light laptop with a keyboard, long battery life, built-in DVD burner and runs Office 2010.  For me both the Slate and the iPad would function as accessories to my laptop and not a replacement.

So what are your thoughts on the iPad? Greatest thing since the wheel was invented or merely another device? Are you interested in the Slate? Are you a tablet veteran? Or are you a tablet newbie enchanted by the fruit logo? Whichever category you fall into let me know what you think about the iPad as well as all of the other next generation tablets coming out.

Disclaimer: Just to be clear – everything published here on my site is my solely my own personal work, opinions and mistakes included.

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  1. #1 by Sink on 2010/04/11 - 12:25

    Thom,
    ej’s reading consultant islooking at the Ipad for her kurzweil and dragon speak naturally (assistive technology). I’m going to suggest the slate to her.
    Well done. Clearly explained. Thanks.
    Sink

    • #2 by Thom on 2010/04/11 - 14:13

      Sink, thanks for reading. Don’t get me wrong the iPad is a perfect device for some people (okay at least 500,000 people) and some uses. I like my iPod Touch just fine, but it’s 1/3 of the price of decently configured tablet. For $600 I want a functional device that can do as much as a laptop – especially since $600 will get you a laptop nowadays. I’ve used the Dragon Software on the iPod and it works quite well although it has some limitations. If she can hold off until the Slate comes out, it would be worth checking to see which device will meet her specific needs better. The iPad’s battery life is superior (by a lot) to the Slate’s but then the Slate can do more things. Hope you are well and thanks again for checking out the blog.

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