Monday, February 1, 2010

My Thoughts on the Jesus Tablet

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 27:  (EDITORS NOTE: Re...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Every other blogger under the sun has given his opinions about the new iPad announced by Apple a couple of days ago. I'm no technology expert.  But, I thought I might as well join in also.  

I was just reading an article about "confirmation bias" which is basically we'll look at something from the point of view that confirms what we already believe. Apple lovers will love pretty much anything they announce.  Likewise they'll often hate anything Microsoft.  I'm not immune to this.  I know it exists for me.  But, since so many people were saying this would be a Kindle killer, I have confirmation bias on both sides.  I just became a Kindle owner a month ago after waiting for a couple of years for the right time.   I'm both an Amazon freak and an Apple freak.  I buy tons and tons of stuff from Amazon.  I have 2 iMacs, a MacBook, an iPhone, an iPod Touch and about 8 iPods in the house. I was nervous because I heard Apple would be announcing their tablet and knew I'd want one.  I think I made the right decision though. 

1.) The iPad is not an ereader- the Kindle 2 is just about the perfect form factor for reading.  It weighs in at just under half the weight of the iPad.  It uses eink technology which, while not really great on contrast, is much easier on the eyes for long reading sessions.  It includes "Whispernet" technology so I can buy and download a book in less than 60 seconds.  It includes this over 3G for life, for free.  The cost is $259 now.  It does not include WiFi (and I couldn't care less).  It has a lousy browser (but I have an iPhone).  It doesn't have much storage.  But Amazon's model allows me to keep my books on their servers and I doubt I'll be reading 1,500 books on my Kindle before I replace it anyway.  

2.) I already have a MacBook- the iPad is a great device for people who want to couch surf the internet.  But, at 16 GB of RAM on the base model I couldn't even fit my entire music and picture libraries on it (forget about video).  If I didn't have the MacBook, I'd probably spring for one of these instead because, for me, the laptop is something I only use when I travel or if I get tired of the little screen on my iPhone.  Add 3G and a decent amount of memory to this thing and it's really close to laptop prices where you can get a real hard drive or even Netbooks that have a reasonable amount of storage. 

3.) No camera-  what??!!!  Every cellphone in existence has a camera now and Apple didn't put a camera on this?

4.) No great new input technology- it was rumored it would have a keyboard you could touch type on or voice recognition or even handwriting recognition (like the Newton did years ago).  Nope.  Zilch, zip, nada.  Just an oversized keyboard similar to what's on the iPhone. I wonder if people will be able to type any faster on it than they can thumb-type on the iPhone.

5.) Price- I'm torn on the pricing issue.  The $499 entry sounds very attractive.  But, with no camera, no 3G and only 16 GB of RAM, you're going to be upgrading probably within two years.  In my family that doesn't mean it would be disposable.  But, it would probably get handed down.  Pretty expensive considering I bought my MacBook about four years ago and it's still going strong.  I don't think I'd invest in the $830 model because even it's going to be "obsolete" relatively soon as machines with more memory inevitably become available.  Heck, I have 32 GB on my iPhone.  Another problem with the pricing of this is everyone who buys one already has a cell phone (many of us iPhones on AT&T).  And you want another $30/month for unlimited data for the iPad?  I think not.  I'll just use it where WiFi is available, thank you.

Now, what does the iPad do well?
1.) Web surfing- I think it's the perfect web surfing device.  Pages would come up full screen. It's a PAIN surfing the web on a 3.5" iPhone screen.  Multitouch surfing of the web is so cool, kind of like the computers in Minority Report.  Swish, swipe, pinch.  I love it.

2.) E-mail- the email interface looks really nice. 

3.) Address book and calendar- looks like Apple finally got this right.  Hope they bring those to the desktop.

4.) Games- I don't game much on my iPhone or my laptop.  But, this would be cool for games.

5.) Pictures- great way to show some pictures.

6.) eReader- I wouldn't buy it as an eReader. But, if I had the choice of reading on this, my laptop or my iPhone, I'd choose the iPad.

7.) Doesn't multitask-  I can see why multitasking was left off of the iPhone and I like the fact it was.  It would slow performance as people leave multiple apps running in the background and it would suck battery life.  My iPhone can barely make it through a day without multitasking. These are meant to be limited use devices, not desktop replacements.  I don't need to multitask on my tablet.  Good move, Apple.  Don't screw it up by offering multitasking on iPhone OS 4.

Bottom line, the iPad is not the second coming the hype said it would be.  It's a very large iPod Touch. I wouldn't even compare it to the iPhone since it doesn't have a camera, can't make calls and you have to pay more than $100 to get the capability to connect 3G (and you still won't be able to text on the thing, presumably since it won't have a phone number).  It's certainly no "Kindle killer".   It's a cool toy and yes I want one.  But, I'll probably have to "accidentally" drop my MacBook before I can get one.
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Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

With netbooks rumored in the $100 range they are much more attractive to me. Even now you can easily get one for under $200.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

And now I can't seem to find any sub $200 netbooks anymore. Last I looked there were several. Maybe their popularity drove the price up or maybe I was seeing black Friday deals.

Brian said...

It'll be interesting to see how the iPad does. It's way, way more expensive than a netbook, as you point out Mike. And, you can't even get enough disk space on it to make it a primary machine. OTOH, Apple freaks will buy 'em by the bunches and I think people who want to look really cool will. They'll also make great computing devices for people like doctors for medical charting (although they'd be a lot better with handwriting recognition and/or voice recognition. But, there is a voice recognition app already for the iPhone).

All-in-all, a pretty good device. But, not a game changer at this point.