Now that the excitement and surprise has worn off, how “amazing” is the iPad really?

by Mike
Posted January 28th, 2010 at 7:29 am

Yesterday was the big exciting iPad unveiling. Everyone and their mother was tuned in to see what el Jobso’s “greatest work of all time” materialized to be. Make no mistake, yesterday I myself also fell into the hype, excitement, and overall fan-fare surrounding the iPad’s release. But this morning when I woke up, a funny thing happened. Reality set in…

How breathtaking and “revolutionary” is the iPad? If you ask some, it’s like the iPhone all over again — a completely new contender in the “netbook” sized market. Asking others however will net a very different response with some saying that it is merely a bigger iPod Touch/ iPhone without a camera, the same mind numbingly frustrating 3G favoring of AT&T, and of course, no background processing.

Let’s start with the 3G. In short: it sucks. Apple is in deed pushing the iPad as “unlocked” and in the technical sense, it is. The only problem is that the iPad only supports AT&T 3G. There isn’t any support for T-Mobile’s odd ball 1700MHz 3G frequency let alone any CDMA support. In the world of 2010, rolling back to EDGE as a scape goat to call the iPad “unlocked” is deceiving and downright ridiculous. And let us not forget that while Apple does tend to push the technological boundaries as to adopting certain pieces of new tech and pushing out older ones earlier than most, using newer micro-SIMs instead of the standard SIM is a minor annoyance as hardly anyone actually uses them.

Further complicating the 3G issue, you have to pay either $19.99/month for 250MB of data which, let’s face it, is worthless on a device like this. You’ll go through 250MB of data without so much as a blink of an eye. Instead, most users will have to pony up $29.99/month for “unlimited” data. We’ve all seen that word “unlimited” misused so many times before. Now is no different. What’s disturbing is that AT&T and Apple claim that AT&T is actually doing them a favor as normal mobile data plans often reach towards $60+/month. If you cut through the crap, no one is getting a favor. $60 or more per month for mobile data is ridiculously overpriced. Even at $30/month, now anyone whom already owns a smartphone (and fort he sake of examples) and home internet could now easily be paying a bare minimum of $90/month to get internet access on all 3 devices.

If AT&T really wanted to turn around their piss poor reputation and really “wow” us with the iPad and mobile internet, they would throw together some special deal for AT&T customers who use all three: Smartphone, iPad, and home internet via AT&T DSL. Cut this $90/month crap and instead offer a truly “unlimited” plan (both in data allotment and in the sense of number devices you can use it with) and give said customers a flat rate of $50/month for data on all three devices. Want more devices? Charge an extra $4.99/month. It sure seems a whole lot more reasonable than the current scheme does it not?

The 3G situation is but a second on the clock of time however when compared to the even bigger and more glaring omission: The lack of background processing. Time and time again I hear blind Apple fanboys that are so infatuated with their shiny little devices such as the iPhond and iPod Touch, that background processes aren’t needed blah blah blah. Bull shit. They are needed. In fact, they are desperately needed.

For example, without background processing, if I’m listening to a great song on Pandora or and want to reply to an email, send a text message, work on an iWork document on the wonderfully redesigned iWork suite for the iPad — I can’t. The OS Apple won’t allow me. Some how Apple managed to create this wonderful ecosystem built on the iPhone OS and leave out the simple ability to multi-task. A human being never does one task at a time. We are always juggling various different jobs, task, etc. So why should a “smartphone” and in this case a freaking netbook/mini computer not be able to multi-task? Remember when Microsoft was planning on releasing a gimped version of Windows 7 Basic that would allow at most, 3 simultaneous programs to be run? They got a media shit storm for it and look what happened — they backed off. Yet in the case of Apple, we again see how they can do no wrong.

Personally, I feel the reliance on a broken 3G network and lack of any real usefulness as a computing device do to the lack of background processes will keep me from ever purchasing an iPad. Don’t get me wrong, while these two are very important flaws with the iPad, there are several more including the use of a 4:3 aspect ratio, not having more games available for demo/at launch, the uncharacteristically and monstrously large bezel, lack of any rich media support (read: video/picture cameras), lack of ports to share content, and the increased difficulty to even use the few available ports (read: adapters galore) are key areas where Apple messed up this whole tablet thing….again.

Yes, the iPad is both a beauty in the night and a disaster in the light. She’ll wow you with her good looks and flashy UI but when it comes down to the meat of why we use computers and how we use them in our lives, the iPad falls short. Even still, it’s the best tablet computer yet. Is that saying something for Apple and their ability to constantly get people talking about their deivecs? Or is it telling of how tablet computers still aren’t very useful to a mass market?

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8 ResponsesLeave a comment
  • mPad
    February 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I think “joe” works for apple. want something to use at night, and your laptop is too… big? get a tablet, for half the price of an ipad, and 1000x the options, how is an ipad even a consideration.
    It’s the same thing as any apple computer, it’s fanboys see a shiney object and cream on it, oh well, waste your money

    • Mike
      February 17, 2010 at 9:11 pm

      I can *slightly* understand his argument. However, if I need anything bigger than a smartphone for web browsing, it’s going to be a laptop. As far as a mouse, depending on the couch and mouse, there are plenty of options. There’s always a track pad too! Regardless of size, no multi-tasking makes it’s useless.

      Even as a phone, the lack of multi-tasking is what drove me away. It may not seem like a big deal, but simple things like checking an email and listening to streaming radio, having a task scheduler run in the background, etc etc are two of many problems the lack of multi-tasking creates. I am like many, drawn to the iPad’s large screen — but that eye candy and puppy love quickly wear off when I realize it has the sophistication of a playskool toy.

  • joe
    February 17, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    ah, come on. When I (and likely 30 million others) sit on my couch at night, I have 2 choices: use my iphone for surfing/texting/email-checking (which is what I currently do), or use my laptop (no fricking way…heavy, annoying, can’t use a mouse on a couch). And with the iphone, the screen is small, so no reading, and all the email checking/texting/surfing is pretty tough (fine in the car, or on the street, but hey, I’m on the couch, or I’m on the back patio maybe, or I’m on the beach, or in a hotel lobby, etc…). I don’t mist multitasking or a webcam when I’m on the couch using my iphone, I miss something just a bit bigger. That is the iPad. Yes, it’s a niche, but Apple is going to make the niche a must-have with this device. Another plus, it syncs to the same thing as my iphone (so that, it’s itunes, doesn’t matter what it is, just that it syncs to the same thing)

    Obvious, really…

  • Deadred
    February 9, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I agree with James, as an E-book reader it is great. Since Kindle is unavailable here in New Zealand, it will pretty much be the only option as a reader, and for that reason alone I will get one. But other than that its pretty bloody useless. I cant see it replacing my laptop anytime soon!

    • Mike
      February 9, 2010 at 7:45 pm

      What other ereaders are available in New Zealand?

  • James Hutchinson
    January 28, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I think as an ebook reader it’s a compelling device. I see no reason to buy a Kindle DX at this point. Without multitasking it never should have been billed as a netbook competitor. When I saw it yesterday I thought it would be a great little device to chat and browse the web with. This morning I’m listing to a podcast, catting on AIM, and reading tech news. Thats pretty standard for me. If I can’t do all of that on the iPad, it’s going to be a pass for me. I think we’ll see multitasking with the next OS update. I’ll wait and see what happens.

    • Mike
      January 28, 2010 at 9:12 am

      Basically: No multi-tasking = no usefulness.

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