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iPad: Why I should get one

iPadWedge2Okay, so my reasons for not wanting an iPad boil down to lack of active pen input and me being a steadfast pen enthusiast. Obviously, I’m in the extreme minority on that (in the rest of the world, not on this site), but I worked hard to carve that niche, so I’m not about to abandon it.

At the same time, I must grudgingly admit that Apple has delivered on several elements I’ve repeatedly called for in Tablet PCs over the years. I called for those things. I should step up and see if they actually work. Furthermore, I’ve defended and promoted many of the things in it that others will surely criticize. Here’s what I’m talking about.

Tailored interface: I’ve said again and again and again, you can’t just slap an interface overlay on top of a desktop-based OS and expect a good user experience. For Tablet PCs, adding tablet functionality to the standard version of Windows wasn’t enough. For the iPad, if the interface was simply that of the standard iPhone only bigger, I would have called FAIL. But they didn’t go that route. The interface is quite similar to the iPhone since they share many of the same control elements, but it’s certainly not identical. Can’t say it’s perfect, but it is tailored to the device.

Application support: Once upon a time, I called on Microsoft to bankroll Tablet Enhancements for Outlook, InkGestures, and TipX, which I collectively called the “Office Ink Enablers” because they greatly enhanced tablet functionality in Microsoft Office Outlook, Word and Excel, respectively. These add-ons made Microsoft Office work on Tablet PCs. Flash forward to today, and we see Apple made iWork work for their tablet. It’s not as magnanimous as rewarding others for making your product useable, but the outcome of making apps tablet-friendly is the same.

Likewise, I and others have argued that lack of tablet-specific applications have held back the Tablet PC form factor. Well, now we get to see if that holds true. We’ll likely see more iPad apps in the next five months than we’ve seen for the Tablet PC in the past five years. If that doesn’t launch the device into users’ hands, then I guess we were all just wrong.

iWork/Office for tablets: On a similar note, I should point out that I have repeatedly defended the use of productivity software in tablet computing. Perhaps most unusually, I’ve made the case that there’s a lot that can be done in Excel using the pen. I found that the eraser of a Wacom pen clears cells in a spreadsheet on a Penabled Tablet PC. I’ve entered data using ritePen. My use of Excel on a tablet is one of my core arguments that tablets can be productivity machines. Thus, from my established standpoint, Numbers on the iPad is a great idea.

The void between Macbook and iPhone: It’s the same void that lies between notebooks and smartphones which everyone is now scrambling to fill. Pretty much every argument for the use of UMPCs, MIDs, netbooks, and tablets applies here, and I’ve made my share. Defending the price point goes along with that.

iPadWedgeThe wedge: No, the iPad does not sport a wedge design as I recently promoted, but look at it in its case. Yeah, the case folds around into a wedge, allowing it to stand upright or lay on a desk at an angle. That’s half the reason I promoted the wedge design, and here it is, enabled by Apple’s own case.

I don’t know, people. Even though I see little utility in the iPad for me, certainly not enough to pull me away from a Tablet PC, I am strongly compelled to get one just to experience the realization of those tablet improvements.

I do have a side path to do that without actually owning one: my wife. She’s interested in trying it out, and I think it would work for her… except she wants pen input. She’s not a tableteer like me, but she loves putting pen to paper. She likes the look of everything in the iPad, but she assumed with all the book-like screens, note-taking would be done by pen and was disappointed to learn the truth (Yes, I married the right woman). Now she’s excited only to try it, not necessarily buy it. I can only hope Apple does something about that with next version.

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13 Comments

  1. Zeuxidamas

    01/27/2010 at 6:13 pm

    On iWork…I am scrambling to get caught with all of the coverage I missed today, but the only things I have seen on the iPad are spreadsheets and presentations. They have not ported Pages, correct?

    Reply

  2. Sumocat

    01/27/2010 at 6:15 pm

  3. turn.self.off

    01/27/2010 at 6:25 pm

    that case may be the mst interesting part of the whole product, as its basically what i have described each time someone have mentioned gorilla arm or other arguments against touch screens.

    Reply

  4. Eric

    01/27/2010 at 9:21 pm

    In my opinion, everyone bashes the tablet experience on WinXP, Vista and 7 because it’s ‘built on top of’ those OS’s. But, I think MS has done a pretty good job considering, unlike Apple, they don’t have one and ONLY one hardware system to play with.

    Just think if MS actually got serious about only making their own hardware. Don’t you think losing all the options and crazy code that allow the current OS’s to work would really it sing?

    Tablet computing isn’t perfect yet, but I don’t blame the OS. I blame lack of imagination from hardware companies and I blame MS for not having the balls to really market the product.

    Now, if Apple sticks a pen on this thing and gives me a OneNote type program, I might bite (just for use as I teach my classes).

    Reply

  5. TexHorns03

    01/27/2010 at 10:34 pm

    I was hoping this would be perfect for hospital use during my rotations and residency; but there’s no way it has a use without a pen.

    Reply

  6. ken Hinckley

    01/27/2010 at 10:44 pm

    the executive case accessory for the OQO model 02 supported exactly the same way of angling that screen. Too bad they are defunct.

    Even had real pen support!

    Reply

  7. CLC

    01/27/2010 at 11:05 pm

    After watching the keynote video on the Apple site, I have to say that the touch implementation in the OS is among the best I have seen.
    I am a big fan of touch-centric UI’s. Interfaces based on touch, rather than pen or keyboard/mouse, are my favorite kind.
    However, the biggest drawbacks are the complete lack of pen support, the lack of multitasking, and the closed OS. (I do NOT enjoy fingerpainting all the time. Nor do I like writing with my fingers.)

    There are so many great free and shareware programs out there that just aren’t usable on this. Plus, what if I don’t want to buy books from iBooks or apps from the AppStore? Do I have a choice?

    Also, what if I want to pop in a DVD? I don’t see a disk drive. DVD is still very important.

    And why in the heck is there no SD card slot? It’s not like it would be that much of a marring interference on the side of the thing. A little slit? I do NOT want to use that accessory, period! Nor do I want to have to go through the computer all the time!!!

    Does this thing really run for 10 hours playing videos? Jobs insinuated as such when he announced the battery life then commented that one could watch videos the whole way on a long flight.

    Otherwise, I do like the touch-centric OS. That’s my favorite part. The rest I’m not too thrilled about… I would rather a convertible. I like clamshells.

    Reply

  8. CLC

    01/27/2010 at 11:08 pm

    How did they get that thing to run so fast, anyway? I also like the instant on feature. They got that part right, too.

    Reply

  9. CLC

    01/27/2010 at 11:17 pm

    Is there no RAM on this thing? I don’t see it listed anywhere:
    http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/

    Reply

  10. Kenrick

    01/28/2010 at 5:08 am

    Yeah, Apple doesn’t say how much RAM is on the thing. Without multitasking they don’t need so much… I would guess at least 1 gig though.

    Reply

  11. Kenrick

    01/28/2010 at 5:11 am

    Engadget is saying their custom A4 system-on-a-chip uses the dual core Cortex A9, the responsiveness does look really good.

    Reply

  12. Norman D. Robinson

    01/29/2010 at 10:01 am

    No…., your not in the extreme minority at all. I mean honestly…, who’s idea was it at “APPL” not to add an active pen for the “iPad”…!!!!

    For all the applications demonstrated a pen is…., how do I say this without getting yelled at…., “COMMON SENSE” for a device this size.

    Who at “APPL” made this mistake and how are they to feed themselves now..?? Clearly their no longer employed. This is a very unfortunate development.

    I’ll make my purchase once the active pen is added. “Steve.., I’m really surprised you didn’t ensure this was a required feature..!!!” Sad really…!!!

    Reply

  13. turn.self.off

    01/29/2010 at 10:19 am

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