• iPad, You Pad, We All Pad For iPad

    The name’s pretty awful. But besides that, I kind of like this new device.

    Kicking about the house, I like to go on the Internet to read RSS feeds, watch YouTube, play a game, etc. while cooking or half-watching a TV show. A laptop is too clumsy and fragile for these tasks (I’m always scared to spill liquids on the keyboard when reading recipes off the web). So, I’ve been doing these things a lot recently on my iPhone. But the iPhone’s a bit small and the battery dies pretty fast under intense use. So the iPad’s a perfect replacement for around-the-house computing.

    When we travel, there’s a few things for which I like to bring a laptop along: music, movies, occasional Internet use (to find a hotel, restaurant, attraction, or map to somewhere), and to offload photos and video from the digital camera/camcorder. But taking a laptop on a trip along with its case and charger is a pain in the ass, and then you have to either have an air card for Internet access, find a wireless hotspot, or pay for in-hotel service. Sure, the iPhone can get the job done for most of these needs – but it’s not ideal. So if you gave me a big iPhone and threw in a nice e-reader, a mobile bookstore, and a reasonable data plan, then I’d say the travel computer problem is solved. And compared to my 7-lb laptop, it’s a lot less to carry if I want to take it with me.

    I spend a fair amount of time presenting stuff at work to execs/peers/users, running to meetings to take notes, and checking email/surfing the web between these activities. Unplugging my laptop from my workstation and running around with it is painful; especially between office suites since I don’t want to shut the lid and put it to sleep, but I can’t sling it under my arm if the lid’s open. So once again, the iPhone has been doing double-duty as a note taker and email browser. But again, it’s a bit small – especially for taking notes and presenting diagrams and Keynote presentations. So there’s another fit for the iPad: a secondary device on my work desktop, acting as a digital picture frame and music player until I’m ready to whip it up of its dock to take around the office for some brief mobile chore.

    There’s a few things I don’t like about the iPad. It doesn’t appear to have the ability to annotate documents (at least not yet). Like the iPhone, it seems to be similarly crippled in to having no arbitrary local storage. A camera on the front would have been nice for video conferencing or sending video postcards. A smart media card slot would make a lot of sense. Charging $130 extra for 3G seems like a bit much.

    But then I have to put things in perspective. Most of the things I’d store on the iPad have apps that do the storage for me. I almost never video-conference on the other three computers that I own, all of which have video cameras. And is it really that pricey in the big scheme of things? The entry-level iPad with 3G service is $629, which is about $30 more than an out-of-contract iPhone 3GS – and you get a lot more computer for $30 than you do with an iPhone.

    So pretty much the only thing it’s lacking is document annotation, which is a software thing. I’d really like to see Apple add this, and if not, there’s an app that does it for me. And if Apple fulfills some rumors out there to store my iTunes library in the cloud for me, then the small amount of flash storage in the entry-level model becomes no problem at all.

    So while I won’t be rushing out to buy an iPad, I can definitely see one somewhere in my future.

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