Re-thinking the iPad

I have blogged on numerous occasions about how I dislike Apple’s closed approach to iOS/iTunes.  However, I have also blogged about my search for a PDA for my wife and she chose an iPhone because she preferred its ease of use.  It is in the context of these contrasting perspectives that I have begun to ponder whether to acquire an iPad.

I am in the process of changing jobs (blog post here) and during the transition, am without a laptop.  Surprisingly, I am really missing the portable computer.  I used it frequently to surf the Internet during commercial breaks on TV or watch football on Slingbox while my kids viewed movies.  Additionally, I often found that the best time for blogging is in the evening on the living room coach after everyone has gone to bed.  Unfortunately, none of these activities are possible now since I only have a desktop computer.  Mynew job will provide a laptop, but I think that I need my own hardware.

My goals in purchasing a new system are to minimize expense and to choose a solution that best meets my requirements.  As I see it, I have three options.

1.) Cheap Windows laptop/netbook

This is the simplest approach.  It would not need to be particularly high-powered or even have much disk storage because it would primarily be used for basic word processing and web browsing.  The benefit is that it would provide a complete browsing experience including Flash, ActiveX and whatever application and/or plugins I might need.  It would also support traditional word processing applications include Microsoft Live Writer for blogging.  The other benefit is that it will come with a full keyboard although it might be cramped.

2.) iPad

This is another interesting option.  It provides a larger screen with access to all the iPad apps and since I will be using it at home, I could go with a WiFi-only version.  The battery life would be nice too although I anticipate using it plugged in most of the time.  The downside is that it does not offer flash-based browsing, access to Windows programs and its virtual keyboard is lousy compared to a physical one.

3.) Other tablets

This is a bold alternative since I am not sure if there are any credible competitors to the iPad yet.  We have heard about some Android-based tablets on the way and also the RIM Playbook, but who knows when/if these will be available and how the resulting products will compare to the iPad.  The simple fact is that all are unproven while the iPad is proven.  I have no doubt that the competition will eventually have credible products, but I worry about the first generation of anything.

In summary, I am looking for a thin and small laptop replacement for use around the house.  After writing this, it seems like my choice is between a cheap Windows laptop/netbook or an iPad.  Which do you think I should go with and why?  Is there an alternative that I am missing?  Other perspectives are appreciated.

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4 thoughts on “Re-thinking the iPad”

  1. Hi Jay,

    I used to work with professional tablet computers (Fujitsu) many years ago. I would recommend a tablet only to someone who needs to work or use it whilst standing up. Otherwise, I consider a small laptop superior in all respects, especially if there is a lot of writing to be done.

    I understand that the iPad has the flash graphic and apps, but if writing blogs is your primary interest, then….:)

    cheers,

    Marin

    1. Marin,

      Thank you for your comment. Your perspective is exactly the reason I am pondering. The iPad clearly has the glitz and fun factor, but it is not clear how useful it would be in my situation. However, I am certain that there are others who will take the opposite perspective.

      JL

  2. I find my iPad is terrific for taking notes, fine with an add-on keyboard for intensive note taking and editing stories – which I do a lot. Family members use it rather than laptops because its quicker to fire up and they can use it in kitchen, living room or wherever. It has to sync to iTunes on a Mac or PC and your notes go up to the host PC. It doesn’t have a USB port which sucks. It overlaps a notebook computer and complements a desktop. It has a reasonable screen size, especially compared to a netbook.

    Good luck with your choice … CHris.

    1. Chris,

      Thank you for your comment; you make excellent points and it sounds like your use model is similar to mine. Of course the annoyance of having to buy an expensive accessory (keyboard) to get the desired functionality is bothersome. Still, it certainly brings new functionality that would not come with a traditional NetBook. Thank you for your perspectives. It also made a nice counterpoint to Marin’s comment.

      JL

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