iPad Thoughts – Will I Be Buying One?

I’ve just watched the Apple iPad announcement and Steve Jobs does seem particularly proud of the iPad. He made a good case that there is a gap in the market for another mobile device that’s bigger than a smartphone and more user-friendly and portable than a traditional laptop.

Steve went on to explain that a netbook is just a small cheap laptop which doesn’t fill the gap and I believe he’s spot on – I’ve never bought a netbook for that reason.

The iPad is essentially a big iPhone, it can be totally touch controlled or, via a dock, using a real-keyboard for anyone who needs some serious text input. The big advantage virtual keyboards have is the ability to present context-sensitive input options, for example, a number pad would appear when entering numeric spreadsheet data and so on.

Although I find my iPhone intuitive and easy to use I don’t use it to its full potential mainly because it’s small so it seems likely I would make better use of an iPad and, as Steve Jobs pointed out, along with 75 million other people, I already know how to use the iPad out of the box.

I can envisage leaving iPads lying around the house, perhaps on the kitchen worktop where I’ll use it to follow recipes, or perhaps on living room coffee tables to settle arguments and look stuff up on Wikipedia. The iPad could breathe new life into traditional board games and I’m excited by all those possibilities.

A docked iPad with a real keyboard is going to be all most people ever need and traditional laptops and desktop computers may well become the preserve of geeks in darkened rooms once again. Consider how quickly the iPod and iPhone changed the way we listen to music and how we use mobile phones and it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see the way we use the world wide web is about to change – in three years, just as Apple announce the iPad V3 we’re all using tablets, you read it here first!

I can’t be certain until I’ve had some hands on experience whether I will take my iPad around the house or have several lying around but it seems likely we’ll have one each because future iPads are bound to interact with each other and our iPhones like virtual pets forming a House-Wide-Web and will change the way we interact with each other, our friends and the wider online world and my daughter won’t need to ring the house phone to get her dippy egg in bed!

There’s a pretty good chance technophobes, like my wife and my mum, will get carried along with the iPad wave. My wife already has an iPhone, admittedly turning it on/off is still a challenge but we’re getting there and my mum loves sitting beside me while I drive my computer for her touring Picasa and Facebook photo albums and buying her shopping online – she certainly knows how to point her finger and she’s good at gestures so she’s halfway there so I should be careful what I wish for or we’ll all be reaching for the blue pill!

Meanwhile, back in the real world, a friend of mine (Hi Antonious!) said “NOT ME MATEY” along with this list of reasons he won’t be buying one – but of course he WILL cave. Quite a few of the items on the list relate to lack of ports on the iPad which can all be made available via Apple or third party iPad docks and another accessory industry is born. I’ve appended my specific comments after each list item:

• Unspecified widescreen aspect ratio for video playback (so what?)
• 1024 x 768 aspect ratio not widescreen video friendly
(so like most TVs they’ll be a black bit top and bottom)

• No integrated USB ports (via dock)
• No card reader (via dock)
• Non-removable battery (would be better if it was)
• Non-expandable memory
(would be better if it was, but will buy the biggest anyway)

• No GPS in the WiFi only model (durr)
• Unlocked iPad not great when network’s don’t use the micro SIM
(any network which gets the contract surely will?)
• Mono audio speakers (via dock)
• Prolonged typing on glass? (use a keyboard via a dock)
• No integrated camera (Gotta love Apple keeping something back for iPad 2)
• No HDMI/Displayport (via dock)
• No Ethernet Port (via dock)
• Still no Adobe Flash support
(It’s bound to be Adobe dragging its heels, would prefer an alternative to emerge)
• Limited codec support i.e. AAC, MP3 and H.264 (can be supported via software update)
• Proprietary iBook eBook format
(Steve Jobs said it WAS an open format and I think all publishers will jump on this bandwagon or risk being left out in the cold)

• No breakdown of ‘up to’ 10 hours battery life
(Steve said he could watch video on a flight from LA to Tokyo and that lying around not being used and iPad would still have power after a month)
• No mains power cable included (via dock)

So yes, I will definitely be buying a WiFi iPad and, if I like what I see, probably more than one. Am I alone or will you be buying one? If so why? If not why?