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Why I Won’t Buy An iPad (Yet)…

Posted in Technology with tags , , , , , on March 31, 2010 by djvinceadams

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I definitely enjoy writing my blogs and I named it “Blogs In The Key of Life” to celebrate my various opinions, interests, etc. Many people don’t know that I have a Masters of Science degree from DePaul University in Computer Science-Information Systems. I’m a “tech guy” at heart and I can remember getting my first Technics portable CD player in 1988, my first floppy-disc Sony digital camera in 1999, my first iPod in 2001 (20MB for $500 and 20MB was HUGE in 2001), etc. I could go on and on about the things I’ve bought as an “early adopter” of new technology. So naturally it would seem that I would be one of the first people in line for this Spring’s sexiest new device – the Apple iPad arriving in stores this Saturday (April 3, 2010) at 9am. Well, I’m not and here’s why…

First off, for those who don’t know the iPad is a touch-only device dedicated to portable applications (i.e. email, Facebook, internet, e-book, iTunes, etc.) used as a convenient tool to compute “on the go.” Let me admittedly say that although I do use an Apple MacBook Pro, I do not use or own an iPhone which may be important to note. The following quick bullets will illustrate a few of the reasons that I am not getting this version of the iPad.

  • The iPad does not have a dedicated USB port – Although the iPad does have a connection that will allow you to transfer music from your computer’s iTunes to the iPad and an adapter that will allow many cameras to transfer pictures directly to the device, who wants MORE connectors? The purpose of portable computing is so that you don’t need another computer to access files. Many people today use portable USB drives to transfer files and to prepare email attachments. Waiting until you get back to your computer to attach the iPad to transfer songs or get back to a computer in order to send an email with an attachment defeats the purpose of being portable.Also, if you wanted to import tracks from a CD to your iTunes or watch a DVD on the unit there is no connection for an external drive.  You are limited to only watching content that you can squeeze into 16GB, 32GB or 64GB worth of storage.
    • Solution: The iPad needs a dedicated USB port.
  • The iPad does not multi-task – can you imagine checking your email on a $500 device and not being able to listen to your iTunes or Pandora (music program) while in your email? Can you imagine getting an email with a Facebook notification and you have to exit email to open Facebook in order to respond because you can’t open both applications simultaneously? These are common tasks that we can do on a blackberry (which I have owned 3) and many cell phones, yet this will not be possible on this edition of the iPad. In fact, it is my understanding that you can only open one internet browser at a time. In this day of “tabbed-web browsers” it’s very common to open several sites at one time while referring back to an email. Who wants to pay more for less functionality?
    • Solution: The iPad needs multi-tasking capabilities.
  • The iPad does not support “Flash” video – let me state that it is expected that Flash will not be needed as the html standard moves to HTML5. HOWEVER, today approximately 75% of the web’s video content is Flash-based. Can you imagine having your sexy $500 device that doesn’t show tv shows from Hulu.com or not being able to view basic video on many of the internets most common/popular websites? If I spend $500 for a device, I at least want it to do what I could do on an Android phone.
    • Solution – Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple) won’t adopt Flash, so it’s a dead issue.
  • The iBook/ebook feature of the iPad is color – many people may feel that color is a good thing for an ebook, but actually backlit/color devices are more harmful to your eyes than the e-ink technology found in e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader. Not only is the battery life much shorter while in use with the iPad than these devices, prolonged reading on a backlit screen can cause eye strain, reading in sunny areas will be difficult due to “screen glare” and other difficulties that are not nearly as prevalent on the e-ink devices.  Having read tens of books and owning 2 Amazon Kindles, I don’t think that Amazon has anything to worry about and neither do they (check the article below.)
    • Solution – it’s a personal choice, but I’ll take safe (Kindle) over sexy (iPad) in this case.
  • You have to pay MORE money to be totally wireless – the standard 16GB iPad is $499 and it is wifi only. You have to pay an additional $130 ($629 total) for the “capability” of being totally wireless.  I say capability because you will still have to pay AT&T an additional $29 a month to get a 3G data plan for the iPad. So, forget any ideas of taking your iPad to the park on a summer afternoon to check email unless you are willing to pay extra for full wireless functionality. In contrast, the Amazon Kindle offers wireless connectivity for FREE. With this knowledge, it could be done, but Apple decided not to.
    • Solution – $29 is steep for a monthly charge for only one device (as opposed to Sprint and Verizon broadband plans which can be used on multiple devices.) Again, it’s a personal choice.
  • For $500 you only get 16GB of storage space – it’s safe to say that the target market for this device has more than 10GB of music, video and photos. It doesn’t seem logical for a user to pay more money for a device that holds less memory, but supposedly does more than a standard 32GB iTouch mp3 player.
    • Solution – either the price needs to come down or Apple needs to allow for external storage (i.e. flash memory like digital cameras/cell phones, external hard drive attachment, etc.)

There are some people (actually there will be millions) that don’t care about the limitations of the iPad and that’s great, the device will perform singular tasks in a stylish and unique way. I could go on about its shortcomings (i.e. no camera/video on-board, movies don’t display in 16:9/widescreen, etc.), but the above 6 points illustrate why I’ll be waiting for Apple to “work the kinks out” before I grab one of these.

Although I’m a gadget guy, in order for me to justify spending that type of money, the gadget has to take me new places and functionally perform better than what I’m currently using.  For $350 a person can buy a netbook that has an 11” screen, 250GB of storage, allows them to multi-task, attach a usb drive/external CD/DVD/hard drive and provides the capability to get a data plan without paying more money (outside of their broadband payment.)  As I stated several times earlier, it’s a personal choice, but I thought it would be beneficial for some people to see the capabilities of the iPad (or lack thereof) in plain English and to be armed to make an informed decision.

The device is sexy, but sexy like a car that gets 9mpg. If you’ve got $500-$640 to blow for the entry-level iPad (as high as $829 for the 64GB model with 3G), knock yourself out. Of course it is expected that there will be many “Apple-vangelists” in line Saturday and that’s cool too.

If you’re a little more discretionary about your spending, I’m sure that the competing devices due later this year from other manufactures will make the iPad “2.0” the device more worth your hard earned money.

Hope this helps and much love, take care of one another and remember – “we all we got”…

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