Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Apple iPad 2 Tablet (16GB, Wifi,)
Apple iPad 2 Tablet (16GB, Wifi,)
I have had my iPad for about a month and read a fair number of reviews before I purchased, spent some time using one at the store, and thought about what I might use one for, in contrast to my laptop with which I am well satisfied. People too often think of computers in terms of hardware, the specs and looks, instead of the software and the functionality. You should ask yourself, "What will I use this for that solves a problem I would like to have solved?" Software is always more important than hardware, even though it is the hardware that makes an impression.
The iPad is not a laptop and is not principally a production computer, that is, a computer on which you are going to develop web pages, do serious graphics editing, or write a book. You could use your new Taurus to tow a trailer, but that is not what it is designed to do well. These things can increasingly be done on an iPad, but I don't believe they will ever be what it is best at. It is a portable media machine with an inviting touch interface that requires a somewhat different set of skills, which take a modest amount of time to learn. Surfing the web, checking email, watching movies, playing games, looking at new cars, reading the Economist magazine, all work better on an iPad than a laptop. It does these things very well indeed. There are now 80,000 apps for a wide variety of activities--given its design intent. The apps are either free or reasonably priced, so you can get a bunch from the "app store" for little investment. As with Amazon, you can see what other people think of an app before getting one.
This would be a splendid acquisition for small children, for teens deep into social networking, for an adult wanting to drop into the love seat for a quick look at what is happening in the world, for a senior citizen who wants a simple, inviting system with few hassles, to stay in touch with grandchildren. The iPad is not a light laptop; it is instead a different way to use computing to do a wide variety of consumption and communication--not principally production.
In my experience, its wi-fi is adroit from one environment to another. It "knows" where it is geographically, scans its environment for wi-fi, and accesses wi-fi seamlessly. At this point in time, we should expect no less. I cannot address the 3G communications since I have a wi-fi only (I am not convinced of the value of the 3G and I can use my phone as a hotspot). I have never had it crash, though I have had to back myself out of apps that seemed to have no logical next step. This was the result either of my ignorance or the fact that there is less of a standard user interface from app to app than there is in classical GUIs such as OS X and Windows.
For the laptop lugging road-warrior, it should be noted, this is not going to be a full replacement. I now take my laptop and my iPad when I go into the college. But much of the time there, I use my iPad because it is so light, convenient and useable. I use it to teach my classes and often reference traditional texts from the iPad instead of lugging them along to class. I develop my own web pages on my 27" desktop which is the right environment for such development; I wouldn't expect to do that on an iPad. In education (and evidently in medicine), it is proving to be a real boon. The enterprise situations where portable information access and transmission are critical will find this a compelling solution. The heavy Photoshop user or music track editor will still need a conventional computer, either laptop or desktop.
I purchased the 64GB version, which may be more storage than I need. But since it will drive my 50" screen downstairs I figured I would begin to load lots of pictures and favored music, so it may prove a wise choice in the long run. It can swallow up entire evenings with the music-augmented slide shows it can do. In fact, you may begin to wonder if you need cable TV. Conventional content providers should be worried about the iPad since it provides yet another way for the user to determine viewing experience. But if you are still drawn to cable, it makes a fine remote control.
Before people evaluate this new kind of computing, they need to spend a month or so with it to identify what it does well and what would be better left to other kinds of computing solutions. I fear some of the evaluations here (both glowing and critical) are not well informed and so do not serve the readers well. So read these reviews with a critical eye.
I continue to find my iPad remarkably productive and productive in ways I would not have anticipated. It does indeed redefine how we can use computing so that it does the work we want to do with minimal impediments. I now leave my laptop at school and take my iPad back and forth since 80 or 90% of the time the iPad does all I need to do. I use it 3 or 4 hours a day.
I just ordered my wife an 11" MacBook Air with the larger RAM and storage, which might seem to contradict what I said in my review. I don't believe it does for the following reasons. She needs to do serious editing of Word documents for the volunteer work she does for the college and still wants the joys of a 2-pound piece of elegant hardware. She is an excellent typist and likes the feel of the Air's keyboard. A keyboard can be added to an iPad, but it's a kludgy add-on that compromises the point of the iPad: an ultra-light slim, touch-interface device that does most of what traditional computing does without the impediments of mouse and keyboard and weight. The 11" Air is a gem of engineering with many of the advantages of the iPad but it is more capable of the production I spoke of in my review since it is a full OS X Lion machine--so it is fully capable of running traditional production software such as Word or Photoshop or, for that matter, Windows.