Saturday, January 30, 2010

The iPad

Some folks have asked me what I think about the iPad.  I'm still thinking about it but here's a brief snapshot of what I've thought so far.

Is it the pad device, dare I say tablet?, that I've thought about for decades?  I'm not sure.  My Nexus One fills that niche really well:
  • It's portable
  • I can watch movies and TV.
  • I read nearly everything I read on it.  That can include books, news.  Twitter, email.  Even the dreaded Facebook.
  • I can play an occasional game.  I could even play chess if I was playing much at the moment.
  • My task list and all of my organizational information is on it.
  • It's a fairly decent still image and video camera.
  • I can use it to find the answer to just about any question I can think of and do this many times during the day.
  • It also does a pretty decent job of understanding what I'm saying.  I can type into any input field in any application (a property of the Android OS) by talking to it.
So with all of that, what do I need a pad for?  I think that's a critical question many folks are asking.

About the only thing my phone doesn't do is allow me to type quickly and see more than the small screen of information at one time.  My favorite device for that is the laptop, which has a keyboard, and my favorite laptop is the 13-in Macbook.  (So, Apple hasn't lost my business).

Here's one advantage of a laptop that I haven't heard anyone mention yet:  It holds the larger screen up for you at the most ideal viewing angle.  With this big (compared to a phone) iPad, you have to hold the thing up yourself.  That seems like it would be annoying to me.  I wonder if anyone will eventually complain about that.

It's shocking to me, but I do think the need for any more than caching storage on these devices is on the verge of evaporating.  By that I mean no disk drive and not even a CD or DVD slot.

So, with all of that, I supposed I should prefer something like the Macbook Air  or one of the netbooks.

There's no question about one thing:  Apple is clearly targeting the netbook market.

Here's another thing that I'm sure of.  The nature of using what we call computers has shifted in a major way.  Basically, if you have a working browser, you're pretty much done.  I think this will become more true and, in this sense, the iPad is more than you need.  

Netbooks do fill a niche.  

I think Chrome OS is going to be quite interesting to watch.

Finally, I've read an account or two where people say, yeah all of that seems true until you hold the thing in your hands.  Then, the experience is so amazing and so compelling, you realize that this is something completely new.  I'm not in a position to argue against that and I won't be surprised if its true.  If it is, then like the iPhone, the trail will have been blazed for a new class of device to be built and sold, and less expensive but functional versions will follow.  Even if they aren't quite as amazing.

One more thing:  Convergence.  That is the notion that everything we use, our phone, TV, computer, music player, etc., is evolving toward a single something that is one thing we all carry around.  I've often thought that was true and I haven't dismissed the idea.  It could be, though, that we end up with multiple devices, like we have now but different ones, that serve different purposes.

Regardless of where things are going, it's certainly interesting.  

There's one other aspect of the world that I live in.  The 21st century.  The current world has just about caught up with my imagination.  Granted, robots aren't too common, no one goes to the relatively small space station but astronauts, and there are no off-world colonies where people shuttle off to, work and live.  There aren't any flying cars to speak of.  But, the rest of it is pretty much there.  I'm just about out of expectations now.  I guess whatever happens next will be a surprise.