If you’re getting an iPad …

… just wait until they release the next version, because it’ll have at least half the stuff it’s missing now.

This is what aPple always does: releases a first-gen iToy which is beautiful but missing crucial, even obvious features and which gets snapped up by the usual “early adopters”. They then wait until sales are up and release the next version which is slightly more useful and a different shape, rinse, repeat. Apple are experts at this – hell, they practically invented modelspamming (well, if not them, Nokia). How many different versions of the iPod are there now? Remember how the first iPhones only had a shitty 2MP no-flash camera and no MMS? Think that was an “oversight”? Think they “forgot”? Anyway, back to the provisional review.
Good things first – it’s very pretty to look at and the touch-sensitive UI looks like Star Trek or something.

OK, not-so-good things:

No multitasking – Yes, that’s right, this little “revolution” in portable computing, this “netbook killer” can only run one app at a time. So if you want to browse the web (on Safari – no external software permitted!) while you chat to someone, you can’t. Why is this? Because the iPad is running a slightly beefed-up iPhone OS and not a Mac OSX like a normal Apple laptop. I can’t remember the last time I used a computer which couldn’t multitask – oh, yes I can. It was my Commodore 64, in 1986, when I was ten.

iPhone OS – yeah, it behaves like an iPhone but doesn’t make phone calls. Sure, it’s way too big to be a practical phone anyway … so why, exactly, make it use the OS from a phone and not from a proper computer? Maybe the jokes are true – it’s starting to sound like a big iPod Touch.

No Flash – if you want to browse the web, you can – on Safari only. But you can’t visit any site that uses Flash. Like Youtube. And half of the internet.

No widescreen – the screen’s a 4:3 ratio, just like an old telly. Any widescreen stuff you watch will be letterboxed.

Software enforcement – only Apple store apps & Apple software allowed! Sorry, but a netbook which won’t allow you to download and install whatever software you like isn’t a netbook.

No integrated webcam – in the days where every netbook has a webcam and you can video chat on your phone, this is a curious omission. Isn’t the iPad meant to be a little multimedia godsend or something?

Touchscreen keyboard – for those of us who touch-type (or even semi touch type), not great. But I could get used to it.

No foldage – typing on this thing looks like an ergonomic nightmare. If you prop it up to see the screen, you’re typing at a painful wrist angle and can’t use your thumbs. If you lay it down on your lap or on a table to type properly, you can’t see the screen unless you hunch over it. If you can lean back and look at the screen while you type, so can anyone standing near you.

It seems very much like this thing is for casual computer users. I mean, really frickin casual. I class myself as casual as buggery in fact, but when I turn on my PC or laptop, I like to be able to: run more than one program at a time, visit sites that use Flash, use the laptop’s webcam, watch widescreen things in widescreen, type comfortably and see the screen at the same time and download & install whatever software I want.

People may verrily complain about Windows PCs & big evil Microsoft but hey, you can more or less do whatever you want with a Windows PC (including upgrade hardware components & change batteries yourself). And don’t think for a second that Apple aren’t also an enormous multibillion dollar conglomerate whose focus is becoming ever more so. Don’t think Apple don’t have a brilliant marketing department, modelspamming, overhyping and drip-feeding features to force people into spending on new models. With the Pad, Apple are making it clear they’re quite happy to force users to conform to Apple or Apple-approved software only. Weren’t Microsoft doing something similar ten years ago?

Full disclosure: I haven’t used the Pad. This device might be so fucking awesome it’ll blow my mind out my ear, but when I think about what I want in a portable computer, the Pad has practically none of it. Even if I was a die-hard Applist I’d be unimpressed with it. If you already have a smartphone or iPhone and some kind of laptop, I’m really not sure why you’d want the Pad.

OK, review over. Largely negative, yes, but I’m coming from a practicality and marketing point of view. I hold no Apple-hatred and I’m not one of these “either/or” fundamentalists. I just don’t like Apple’s marketing or modelling scheme and I especially dislike the ridiculous hype engine (which includes salivating tech-journos who give Apple more fawning publicity for free than they could ever pay for). And I don’t like this Pad because, as I said, it’s got next to nothing I want on it – in fact, it seems to have next to nothing any netbook user would want on it, including the freedom to choose their own software.

I will close with an excerpt from a chat I had on this topic last night:

m: … you can’t angle the screen toward yourself and chat to someone while you watch your pr0n
m: … how’s anyone meant to cyber with this fucking toy?
m: … ooooooooooooooooooooh now I get it
m: … it’s for CHILDREN

 

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