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Why I Don’t See the Point of an iPad

Posted on 17 June 2010

I have a Fujitsu T-Series Lifebook Tablet PCthat stopped working properly for its original owner, and so was given to us a few years back, so I understand the beauty of using a tablet, even one with a shot hard drive and lack of a touch screen (save for the stylus). It’s great for taking notes in a natural way (especially in a meeting– everyone can see you’re taking notes and not browsing Facebook). It’s nice for sitting back and doing heavy reading– and this is without eInk, just the virtue of it being a tablet that you can fold down and hole lengthwise. So I understand the theory behind an iPad– good for on-the-go use, good for media consumption. But when I finally played with one this past weekend, I just didn’t see the point. Yes, it looks nice, yes, it performs smoothly, yes, the touchscreen is incredibly intuitive. But there’s two things that really got me. The first was this: 

 

Now, this came as no surprise, but what really drove it home for me was how often I would run into this during my regular computer use– and especially what I would like to use a tablet for. To start, I’m in Canada and I don’t have television, so I use the internet to get my World Cup fix. Fortunately, CBC is livestreaming every game(as well as offering on-demand replays). But if I wanted to use my hypothetical, brand-new $500+ iPad to enjoy this service, this is what I get: 

 

I’m presented with the same situation if I try to visit the Hype Machine or CBC Radio 3, my two streaming audio destinations of choice, and exactly the sort of services I would want available to me in an on-the-go, internet-enabled media device since they’re the only places I keep my music in the cloud. Otherwise, I have my 160GB iPod full of all my purchased music. The iPad isn’t offering me any extra value there. 

The second point is one that I’m surprised more people haven’t been up in arms about– the lack of USB or SD slots. I guess it’s because there’s a workaround, but I agree wholesale with the point made in this review from Crunchgear

“Don’t you worry about the iPad lacking an SD card slot and USB port. Apple has you covered with adapters! How nice of Lord Jobs. Instead of building in two industry standards, users are forced to buy extra items with their new iPad. It’s not like the these standards are large and would take away from the oh-so-important design.But it really is ridiculous that the iPad doesn’t have an SD card slot built-in. USB port, fine. Apple is sticking with its massive dock connector, but an SD card slot — or microSD card slot — would actually open the iPad to some niche markets.

Just think about photographers. The SD card slot would allow them to quickly and efficiently preview their shots on a large screen. The USB port would even allow them to control some DSLRs directly from the iPad with the right app. But nope, can’t do it without an adapter. Even then, they would only be able to use one at a time because of the single dock connector.

So it seems that the iPad is designed to milk every last penny out of buyers. You see, having a flush-mounted SD card slot would allow consumers to get away with buying the 16GB model and increasing the storage themselves. That’s clearly not in Apple’s financial favor, but it’s not like anyone expected Apple to look out for the buyer anyway. This is a dealbreaker for me.”

If I were to think about situations where I would want to use an iPad instead of a regular computer, it’s on-the-go and traveling. It’s a nice, lightweight alternative to the laptop– except the reason I would want a laptop is, partly, so I can upload photos that I’m taking on my travels (I’m thinking particularly here of long periods on the road or even backpacking– markets that the iPad seems deliberately designed to appeal to). But without the add-ons, your left with an oversized iTouch– a cliche, I know, but one that I agree with even more now that I’ve had a chance to use one.

 

What really drove it home for me is when I saw beside the iPad display some new netbooks. Windows 7, Flash-compatible, USB and SD-port having netbooks. Yes, they lack a touchscreen, yes, they aren’t tablet-sized, but they play nice with the internet AS IT IS, not as they want it to be (I really don’t think everyone should have to give up on Flash just to give iPad users a full experience) and guess what? They were less than half the price. I’ll take the lack of shiny design and tablet capabilities over the lack of being able to use some of my favourite sites and upload photos any day, especially when it saves me $300.

Filed under: reviews, technology

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