So you’ve no doubt read many glowing reviews about the iPad, how wonderful it is and how it will clearly bring world peace, cure all disease and feed and house the planet. While there are many things I like about the iPad there are also many things wrong with it or that will clearly be better in the future. In short it’s an Apple 1.0 product – a great start full of possibilities. So what’s wrong with it?
It’s heavy. Heavier than you think. You really need to hold it with two hands and after an extended time of holding it the 1.5lbs starts to weigh on you. The biggest single issue on the hardware side is there is no stand of any kind built into it. Unlike a laptop or netbook which has a built-in stand so to speak (the keyboard) the slate that is the iPad becomes unruly when you want to read something or watch video for more than a few minutes. It badly, very badly, needs some sort of built in kick-stand so that it could act like a true photo frame. Each time I’ve used it since the moment I picked it up I’ve missed this very simple feature that I’m sure someone will fix with a crappy stick-on stand. Apple could have nailed this (like the HTC EVO will have) but they didn’t.
There are several other shortcomings in the hardware. No front facing camera? This thing is supposed to replace a netbook/laptop virtually all of which have front facing cameras (including the entire Macbook line). Why they left this out is crazy to me, it could have been the perfect Skype device. Also missing is an SD card reader – again something that is almost universally standard on all netbooks. That, coupled with the fact that like all Apple products there is no removable memory and you’ll find getting your pictures onto the device becomes a challenge to say the least – right now the only way is to use my laptop, the very laptop that I’m trying to replace with the iPad.
Next up is the screen. While it is nice and crisp the glare from the glossy screen is amazing – in normal light it is practically a mirror. And I’ve never seen a device that picks up and shows fingerprints like the iPad. When it’s turned off lying on the couch it looks awful as it’s just coated in fingerprints. I’m sure that matte screen covers will come soon I just don’t understand why Apple is so fascinated with these ultra shiny displays. The other issue is the resolution – it’s 4:3 like your old TV set was. Didn’t we switch to widescreen back in 2006? Oh wait, 2005? No, actually before then even. I’m not sure what a widescreen version would feel like in the hand, I’m guessing that’s why they went this route. Every time I watch video on it I’m reminded that it’s 2000 all over again, black letterbox bars everywhere. Ugh.
If you’ve ever used an iPhone you’ll be right at home – in fact if you are human you’ll be able to use the iPad with ease. There are however a number of issues on the software side that are huge deal breakers for me, in so much as this will not replace a laptop. First, and the biggest is no Flash support. Why Apple can’t just suck it up and let Adobe do Flash for this and iPhone is beyond me. While HTML5 promises to bring streaming video without Flash it won’t be able to handle all the other things that are, right now, built in flash. All the games and video sites on the net are useless on this device, again designed to take on netbooks that virtually all support Flash. Yes there is a Netflix and ABC application (both very nice) but what about the thousands of sites out there that could have brought extremely rich content to the iPad on day one. Nope, nada. This is a much bigger deal than Apple would like us to believe.
No tabbed browser support – again are you kidding? Every browser on virtually every platform has a tabbed interface. Hell the browser on my Android phone does this. How can Apple say this is the best browsing experience when you don’t have tabs on top of Flash? For anyone used to tabs it really makes surfing the web for anything other than a casual search a painful experience. It is not the best browsing experience at all, in fact it’s very very far from it.
No multitasking? Are you fucking kidding me? It’s 2010, right? Every other OS on the planet has had multitasking for over a decade. This becomes a real issue if this were to be your only device. I’m watching something on ABC.com and hear a ding for an email. I hit home, check my email, then go back to home, then back to ABC.com – only to find that I have to start over, find my show, then try to fast forward to where I left off. What, seriously? I know the rumors say it’s coming in 4.0 of the OS but for now this is a huge limitation.
Microsoft Office Support. I’ve tried hard since I got the iPad not to touch my laptop (other than this post). For my daily workouts I have a spreadsheet to track all my weights and reps. So I bought the Numbers application from the App Store and emailed myself my spreadsheet (pretty inelegant way to get something on it). After Numbers opened the document it went through a conversion process and I had my spreadsheet open. Editing fields was pretty easy, it felt more like an image app than a spreadsheet. I put in all my data and when done went to save the document. Well there is no “save” as there is no local, user storage. All you can do is send the document to yourself via email or iWork – but only in Numbers or PDF format. So that’s a no go – I need this spreadsheet in Excel thanks. While I haven’t tried word processing I’d assume the same issue will apply.
The iPad is an amazing toy. It is extremely responsive (impressively so), feels great in your hand (for short times), is very elegant and looks fantastic (until covered in fingerprints). The battery life is amazing, estimated at 10 hours (which I’d believe). It is a fantastic start. But it is flawed in many ways and isn’t something I could recommend to anyone, unless you’re not the one paying for it. What I’m excited for is version 3.0 of it, or the first round of Android tablets that are sure to follow soon. Something with removable memory, front facing camera, matte screen, widescreen, SD card reader, USB port, and a kick stand. All running Android where I have much more flexibility with what and how I work. That will be the device to replace my laptop and I think many others. The iPad – well it’s a great and fun toy that like all Apple products will make you suffer while you use it. And use it you will because, well, it’s shiny and it’s from Apple.