iPad-ing the Job


Or is it? I’m going to go against the tide of rabid gadget fans here with an emphatic ‘No’. It certainly looks pretty, as all Apple gizmos tend to, and the inclusion of solid-state memory (which is more resistant to many of the problems to which a regular hard disk falls victim) is a step in the right direction. The prices are unexpectedly low, too –499$ (357€) will see you walking away with the 16-gigabyte version, while the top-end 64-gigabyte model will set you back 699$ (500€).
It weighs in at around 730 grams (if you include the cellular 3G option), has dimensions of 242.8mm x 189.7mm and is 13.4mm thick. Running a version of the iPhone software, it’ a joy to look at, with a touch screen and a resolution of 1024×768 pixels. It does Wi-Fi and Bluetooth out of the box, and is compatible with all existing iPhone/iPod applications, either in standard mode or a special enlarged mode to fit the iPad screen. Top all this off with a built-in compass, GPS and the option to attach a regular keyboard, and it should be a winner.
So, what’s the problem? It depends how you look at it, really. Unlike the iPhone, you’ll need to shell out 130$ (93€) for the cellular phone upgrade. If you want a machine that can surf at high speed when not Wi-Fi connected, you can’t just plug it in to a network port. It requires an account with the iTunes app store, so you are locked in to Apple’s system of buying and installing applications. Some don’t mind this, but as a die-hard geek, I like to hack and mess around with my toys.
Even if you do buy the cellular upgrade, it won’t do voice. You’ll still need to get your iPhone out. Taken from a business perspective, the lack of multi-tasking is a major drawback. There will be no flipping out of your spreadsheet to consult a web page or make a note in a text editor. It’s not a business machine – a huge part of the portable computing market – and it’s not really anything more (in this jaded geek’s eyes) than an over-sized iPhone.
Until the lack of GSM voice, multi-tasking, and even the inability of the Safari browser to show Adobe Flash files are taken in hand, business won’t like it. That said, the thing will fly off the shelves. Apple could bring out an iGuillotine, and suddenly beheading aristocrats would be the new big thing. It doesn’t make it right, but they know how to sell. For me, it’s style over substance.