Apple iPad – The Pros and Cons of the Magic Tablet

Nomen omen is a Latin phrase which can be translated as “the fate is in the name”. The iPad reflects perfectly this logic because it seems like iPod and not like iPhone. In fact it is an Apple media player only bigger. It is not a big mobile phone format.

Although this is the most used metaphor, the specifications show that it is more like an iPod touch than a mobile phone. It is not enough that the more expensive iPad models have UMTS / HSDPA standard mobile connectivity: this only serves to browse the Web. There is no support for voice, while the iPhone is designed primarily to be a mobile handyman. The new Apple “magical” device is dedicated to multimedia content. If there was an integrated webcam, you could make video calls via Skype, so it seems to be a maimed object.

Even more so if you think that it doesn’t have the long-awaited multi-tasking feature: the question is, why not? IPhone has the functionality that is essential to keep multiple applications running simultaneously but it is disabled for processor workload and power consumption reasons. That is not true for the iPad, which has the powerful hardware and the interaction modes that support multitasking. The iPhone is already able to support multitasking with a process that forces the Apple operating system and has the same platform available for iPad: a compact version of OS X but not the Macbook’s version. Even for this option you can find a reason, but it is not enough to close the question.

The Cupertino company has chosen to give importance to a package composed by App Store, iTunes Store and the new iBook Store instead of using the existing standard applications for Mac. It will be possible to adapt them, like for example, for iWork applications. But the virtual stores are the true soul of the Apple mobile devices (iPhone and iPod touch) and the iPad is born with many applications already ready to be downloaded and installed. This is not a technological choice but a way to increase the lifetime of an object that was announced as a “revolutionary” product but maybe it is not. Apple started to think and develop the iPad over the last ten years, but only now the technology is mature enough for production. This means that the iPad is an invention of 2002: that was the date of the first tablet PC and Mid. The “full screen” device is an exceptional heir of these experiments and not so far as features from netbooks.

Netbooks, once again, have been harshly criticized by Steve Jobs that defined them not up to expectations.

The iPad could be seen as a luxury and an innovative Netbook-like device. Let’s continue with the provocation: apart from the touch screen display, the differences with mini laptop are very limited. On the contrary it has anything less. For example, it doesn’t support Flash, does not have USB ports to connect external accessories; it requires Sim phone card with a different format in respect to the actual ones and it seems awkward to use. A good thing of the mini PC is that it’s possible to use them like notebooks, while the iPad is mainly held in the hand.

The display, however it is beautiful, has a limited resolution (1024×768 pixels) and probably it is not suitable for reading e-books. The digital ink of e-reader is not aggressive for the eyes even for prolonged periods. An OLED display must demonstrate that it is not tired. It covers a flaw of the digital book readers that is they have limited functions and could be seen like a parent of the future electronic publishing. But the newest Apple iPad has many talents and it gives a reasonable starting point for new developments to the market, as has already happened for the iPhone. And then there’s the icing on the cake: it is the first Mac product with a small price.

Finally, the iPad has a beautiful appearance, it will be definitely fun and rewarding to use and it is designed to be used for Internet connections (besides all the other features).

In short, iPad is a simplified surrogate of a computer that will be loved by anyone who doesn’t want a computer. This is a great idea and Steve Jobs has certainly taken this into account. For now we are waiting to see what will be the iPad lifetime. Past the initial falling in love, how long will we look at it? Here again the comparison with the iPhone is out of place: you always return home to get your phone if you forget it at home or office. What about the iPad?

Fabio Rizzo

Have a comment? Type it below!