Last summer I wrote a blog post in which I claimed that tablets, for lack of a better word, suck. Yet I actually woke up early today to confirm that I’d be able to get an iPad the day it came out. I wanted to take a moment to explain why I am actually excited about the iPad (image source = Scobleizer + my wannabe Photoshop skills).
First, my anti-tablet arguments, and how they do/don’t apply:
- Tablets suck at handwriting recognition.
Still true, hence Apple implementing an on-screen keyboard and building a physical keyboard to go along with it. I don’t consider this a particularly great solution, I’d actually prefer a “Palm Graffiti-like” option (yeah, not elegant, but once you knew it, you were fast).
- Tablets suck to carry around.
Still true, actually one of my biggest concerns about my personal use of the iPad.
- Tablets make you tired.
From using my Droid Eris I’ve already noticed slightly different types of strains on the muscles in my forearms, not sure if its from the typing or the swiping (or the general frustrations with Android). Curious to see how this plays out with the iPad.
- Tablets can’t share nicely with others.
In typical Apple fashion, rather than try to make all Office apps work they’ve created a new ecosystem for productivity apps. I feel this is an okay approach, but still not what I want. I am concerned that I’m going to want to sketch notes and markup docs and have no way to effectively do it – but I can’t really tell if this’ll work or not yet.
- Tablets suck at hiding smudges.
Any carrying case worth buying will have a little pouch to keep glass cleaner. It’s going to be smudgeriffic for sure.
- Tablets are bad Web browsers.
I think this is one area I’ll have to eat my words a bit – mobile browsing is better than it used to be, and it really seems that Apple has focused specifically on the Web experience.
- Tablets are priced poorly.
Well, it’s not cheap, but it’s not crazy either. For an early adopter product, I’d say its priced appropriately, though will need to eventually come down. Unless it’s actually a viable personal laptop replacement (more below), in which case the price point is awesome.
- Tablets suck at everything else.
Still true – unless the entire ecosystem is built off a custom app platform and instead of trying to run traditional computing applications (ahem, Windows), it’s running all new stuff… But it still might suck.
So what happened here? Am I just a rampant hypocrite? Have I been drinking too much Apple Kool-Aid? Do I just want to be the first kid on the block with some shiny new object (unlikely)? Or is it something different?
For the “haters” (basically all the crazy tablet fanatics who got offended that I don’t love their products as much as they do and am apparently not supposed to state said opinion), this will sound bizarre, but in a nutshell I don’t really consider the iPad a tablet. Yes, it’s a slate form factor. Yes, it has a touch screen. Yes, there are a ton of similarities to the tablet category. But it’s not a tablet.
I consider the iPad much closer to a “big iPod Touch” than any other category of product. While it has some aspects of productivity tools, the reality is the product is optimized for other types of usage. Let’s face it, that virtual keyboard is probably going to get annoying pretty fast. Further, with no USB there’s very few options for extensibility. Which means you can’t think of it like a “computer”, since it’s actually much less versatile than one. But as a product, it’s just as versatile as it needs to be.
From one perspective I guess I do drink a bit of the Kool-Aid, as I do believe the company has effectively built the “not a phone, not a laptop” product. I also think they’ve built something with tons of versatility and practical use. As we continue to march down the post-computing era of gadgets, I think the iPad will start transforming a lot of peoples’ mindsets on what exactly can be done with innovative technology.
And as I said in the original tablets suck post, “But if you do figure it out, I’m buying!”